With their new self-released album Option Paralysis, the Dillinger Escape Plan continues to refine their mathcore style, resulting in an album that might appeal to more people while still being heavy as all dang heck. Oh sure, tunes like “Good Neighbor” get down with the technical hardcore sound fans expect. But the group also slows things down, like on opener “Farewell, Mona Lisa,” and even toys with more ambient music, to great success.
Option Paralysis also marks yet another line-up shift, as drummer Billy Rhymer finally makes his recorded debut since joining the group last year. He’s a good fit for the band’s music, which switches styles often. Jeff Tuttle (guitar, although he’s only credited with additional vocals here), Benjamin Weinman (guitar/piano) and Liam Wilson (bass) all return. Vocalist Greg Puciato still sounds awesome, adjusting his delivery to the music’s intensity, Mike Patton-like. It’s the quieter moments on the album that make me respect him more as a hardcore/metal singer.
Given that the members have always revealed musical tastes that extend beyond hardcore, be it through their covers or their tour mates, it’s hard to judge how much pianist Mike Garson influenced the group’s sonic shift on “Widower” and “I Wouldn’t If You Didn’t.” Dude’s played with David Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt and Nine Inch Nails. Without him, Aladdin Sane wouldn’t exist. His playing on “Widower,” which accommodates the shifts from rock to mathcore to jazz without warning, is similarly important.
But then, shifting dynamics have always been DEP’s style. They’re just expanding their horizons. Option Paralysis draws in a number of unlikely sources and somehow makes them hardcore. This isn’t smooth jazz; DEP shapes their influences according to their desires. So when I say “Chinese Whispers” has electronic flourishes, there’s no need to fret. The song shreds.
Of course, there are also plenty of tunes that straight up obliterate. Short, aggressive numbers like “Crystal Morning” and “Endless Endings” should go over well in the pit. So while some might be put off by the group’s reach, there are enough “conservative” cuts on Option Paralysis to make it still a worthy purchase for the puritanical. Like Miss Machine and Ire Works before it, Option Paralysis reveals how far technical metal can go.