The Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis
Season Of Mist
Experimental Post-Hardcore/Metal
10 songs (41:28)
Release year: 2010
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat
Album of the month

It's been increasingly hard to guess the direction which The Dillinger Escape Plan would take themselves. Increasing pop influences on Miss Machine and Ire Works hinted at something, but what? The band already had that trendy-journalist appeal which gave them their existing mainstream presence, and despite a better critical and commercial response than ever before to Ire Works they always seemed dissatisfied in interviews - something which came to a head when they completed their contract with Relapse Records and made the intriguing choice of starting their own imprint under the Season Of Mist umbrella. It's a move back towards the underground, without a doubt - Season Of Mist are rightfully highly regarded by Metalheads everywhere for a roster which includes Black Metal godfathers Mayhem, austere Greek classicists Rotting Christ, and Prog giants Cynic, and with the recent signing of Morbid Angel especially prove that they have become a vital element of the world Metal scene. Yet by creating their own, presumably fairly independent label, the band are looking forwards as well, a stance sure to repay them in these harsh economic times.

So, what does credit crunch Dillinger sound like? Brilliant, in a word! Option Paralysis is an interesting, complex listen, as you'd expect, dropping much of the proggy interludes and standalone experimentation of Ire Works in favour of a more blunt, song-based approach. The experimental is still a very integral part of the band's sound, but it's incorporated better, and as a result the songs feel more rounded and complex but also take longer to appreciate. Opening track Farewell, Mona Lisa is as promisingly meaningful as its namesake, mixing the freakout jazzcore of Calculating Infinity with the sickening melodies of the Irony Is A Dead Scene EP, complete with melodic breakdown and prog metal riffage. It's at once a good overview of their career to date and an eye looking towards the future, as oddly catchy in its way as Milk Lizard yet clearly several times heavier, and sure to put all but the most dedicated off with its status as a single and video track. Following stomper Good Neighbour is as tight and technical as we'd come to expect from the band, a kind of Panasonic Youth with added metallic widdly riffing - the band fully deserve that 'metal' tag I've given them above.

Yep, The Dillinger Escape Plan have finally crossed the barricades to metal land, and are more or less fully guitar-driven, Ben Weinman and Jeff Tuttle capably backed by new drummer Billy Rymer - a combination that works wonders throughout the album, tracks like Endless Endings impressively technical and never less than listenable. Not to forget Greg Puciato - his clean singing is the best it's ever been, especially my favourite, the wonderfully yearning and wistful Widower, a six-minute ballad featuring guest piano from Mike Garson (who has also worked with David Bowie amongst others). The Dillinger Escape Plan doing a ballad?! Yes, and a damn good one, too, spasmodic drumming and a wall of riffage mixing perfectly with the piano, not avoiding harsh vocals or the band's typical brutality but harnessing them to make one of the best tracks of the album. The band have to return to real violence for the following Room Full Of Eyes, of course, hitting new heights in heaviness as their stop-start assault wages intermittent war eternal, whilst the energetic Alt-Rock of Chinese Whispers and the epic discord of I Wouldn't If You Didn't are as vital and enjoyable as any other song present. Closing track Parasitic Twins, meanwhile, is like an overloaded Nine Inch Nails, complex orchestral and percussive tapestries backing a melodramatic lead vocal performance that finishes the album on a very high note.

Looking back over the tracklisting, it's hard to pick a single track that is out of place or doesn't work, let alone filler - the band have become so capable that they can write an album full of jagged Avant-Gardening like this and make it sound fantastically smooth and flowing. It's also increasingly difficult if not impossible to point to the parts which have been directly influenced by Mike Patton - his influence is a great thing, but it's even better that Dillinger are moving on. Picking future paths for a band so dedicated to their own is a typical music journo preoccupation, yet as ever there is very little point; The Dillinger Escape Plan make a fine art of their inscrutability, and would we really want it any other way? Option Paralysis may not get the band to the top of the Billboard, but neither is it the creative slump that cynics may have expected. Ultimately, it's one step sideways, one step forwards on a career that promises many more albums as passionate and committed as this, which may be their best yet - I'll get back to you at the end of the year. In the meantime, a highly impressive band has made another highly impressive record, one that I recommend to all.

Killing Songs :
Farewell, Mona Lisa, Good Neighbour, Widower, Room Full Of Eyes, Chinese Whispers, Parasitic Twins
Goat quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by The Dillinger Escape Plan that we have reviewed:
The Dillinger Escape Plan - One of Us Is the Killer reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Calculating Infinity reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Miss Machine reviewed by Nathanael and quoted 92 / 100
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