Thrash is an Available Option, Too
The Dillinger Escape Plan’s fourth album, Option Paralysis, is a stunner for sure. Most metalheads have been raving about this record as not only their best yet but an effective blend of the successful sounds and techniques from previous records, namely 1999’s Calculating Infinity and 2007’s Ire Works. While the band has seen countless lineup changes, original guitarist Ben Weimann is the glue holding together this mathcore metal band from Morris Plains, N.J. Hardcore metal worshipers will rejoice with DEP’s newest and longest opus of stylish, progged-out screamo.
The best part about Paralysis is its diversity. Greg Puciato is one of the driving forces behind this album; his voice has reached a strong, virtuoso range. He can scream and scream until his eyes are about to pop, then turn on a dime to a soft, melodic croon. The opener and first single, “Farewell, Mona Lisa,” is an alarming wake-up call. This is not a record to meditate to; this is for fans of Coheed & Cambria’s heaviest or Megadeth. Weimann and Jeff Tuttle’s guitar work is actually quite nuanced; their tinny scales climb and descend at breakneck speed behind the powerful drum kit of Billy Rymer. Then suddenly, two minutes deep, you catch a breather with a slowed-down tempo and a tender vocal. There’s no such relief in the following song, “Good Neighbors.” It’s two and a half minutes of total head-banging.
Standouts and strong candidates for converting non-metal freaks to the dark side of heavy rock are “Gold Teeth on a Bum” and the shockingly beautiful “Widower.” “Gold Teeth” gives the record a sense of depth not only in sound but in songwriting and emotion as the band mine some of their strongest lyrics for this polemic. Meanwhile, “Widower” is a tinkly, delicate piano ballad clocking in at over six minutes with not a hint of metal until minute four.
While “Chinese Whispers” and two-minute punk thrasher “Crystal Morning” will undoubtedly appeal to Warped Tour followers, Alternative Press readers, and devotees of Anthrax or Faith No More, they’re no indication of what a listen to this record is really like. It’s almost a tough one to enjoy for those unaccustomed to a serious scream and a relentless headbanging pace, but once you sink your teeth in you realize there are plenty of calmer, peaceful moments to let you appreciate the artistry and musicianship at work here. For a metal record, this one will get longhairs whipping around and office punks bobbing their knees and tapping their pen in time.