It's easy to write THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN off as one of the numerous tech-metal bands who only set out to beguile the average punter but to do so would be to completely miss the point. On their fifth album, they remain as divisive as ever but their sound has much more depth than just the breakneck riffing and time signatures which makes their music so unpredictable. "One Of Us Is The Killer" brings together everything that's made the quintet's previous output so electrifying; the edge-of-the-seat intensity of "Calculating Infinity", the pop flirtations of "Miss Machine", the electronics flirtations of "Ire Works" and the jazz flirtations of "Option Paralysis" while adding in subtle horns in the most unexpected places just when you think you've got them figured out. With a BLACK FLAG-esque stance on line-up, only guitarist and lead songwriter Ben Weinman remains of the band that brought out their debut self-titled EP back in 1997 but the quality of their music has not wavered one bit and while they'll always have their detractors unwilling to give thir post-Dimitri Minakakis output a chance, they're the only ones who are missing out on one of modern metal's greatest innovators.
Opener, "Prancer" is the most straight-forward track here but it still charges out of the gate with THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN's signature jarring riffs and hardcore bluster before "When I Lost My Bet" shows a seeming aversion to repeating sections running the gamut from jazz drumming to "Irony Is A Dead Scene" informed vocal delivery. The title track calms things right down and is perhaps the most surprising track here with subtle horn sections rubbing shoulders with more straight-up rock with Dillinger's trademark bag of spanners thrown into the mix. Next, "Hero Of The Soviet Union" sees the band channeled through DANNY ELFMAN while "Nothing's Funny" bears a passing resemblance to "Good Neighbor" (of "Option Paralysis") with more of an industrial vibe. The intro riff to "Understanding Decay" could have been written by AT THE DRIVE-IN but after this it veers off into more Mike Patton-era territory before "Paranoia Shields" provides another massive risk for the band with almost no screaming and a jazzy breakdownbut it pays off spectacularly as an album highlight. The cryptically titled "CH 375 268 277 ARS" is an instrumental apart from an indecipherable vocal sample and boldly mixes electronics with orchestral embelishments. The next two tracks, "Magic That I Held You Prisoner" and "Crossburner" sees the band back in more familiar mathcore territory before the album's conclusion, "The Threat Held By Nuclear Weapons" simultaneously channels both CAR BOMB and DEFTONES into one final 'what the fuck did I just hear?' moment. Needless to say, if you weren't already a fan of THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, "One Of Us Is The Killer" probably won't change your opinion on them. However if you were already in thrall to the undisputred kings of mathcore then you'll revel in the opportunity to hear new music from them. While the band haven't quite raised their very high game this time round, they still leave the numerous pretenders to their throne coughing in their dust. (8/10)
"One Of Us Is The Killer" is out now through Party Smasher Inc/ BMG