Sound — 9
The Dillinger Escape Plan has captivated me since their 2007 release, "Ire Works," when I first discovered them. I came a little late to the party, as The Dillinger Escape Plan formed in 1997. Their first album, "Calculating Infinity," was released in 1999 now almost 15 years ago. During that time there has been some pretty serious lineup changes, and now today the only founding member remaining is Ben Weinman (lead guitarist). In their defense, Liam Wilson (bass guitar) and Greg Puciato (vocals) have both been with the band for over a decade. Billy Rymer is on drums and has been for the past 4 years or so. A more recent change, James Love is on rhythm guitar since 2012 (having previously worked with the band from 2004 through 2006. The lineup seems to be pretty tight on the album, as well as a few of the more recent live shows I found on YouTube. "One Of Us Is The Killer" is the 5th studio album released by The Dillinger Escape Plan. There are 11 tracks on the album and the runtime is approximately 40 minutes. They released the track "Prancer" as the first single from the album on March 12th. They released a music video for the track "When I Lost My Bet" on April 23rd.
The album opens with "Prancer," which immediately has Greg Puciato screeching out the opening lines and Ben Weinman going into his signature frenetic guitar-work. Liam Wilson and James Love provide strong support on bass and rhythm guitar, respectively. This is the sophomore release for Billy Rymer on drums with DEP and he is proving himself nicely. The next track "When I Lost My Bet" starts out with some serious aggression and reminds us why their genre has the word "core" in it. The track goes into a section of almost laid back creepy ambulance only to end with pummeling aggression. The third track, and also the title track, is the most "pop" song on the album (or as "pop" as DEP is going to get), with predominantly clean and almost falsetto vocals (I'm guessing these vocals are provided by Ben Weinman) and then Greg comes in with fairly clean vocals for the choruses. Of course, immediately after this short departure they go into "Hero Of The Soviet Union" which has some of my favorite drum parts from the album in it. The next track, "Nothing's Funny," once again has cleaner vocals but paired with a slower tempo and some truly interesting riffing. From there the album only gets more interesting.
Lyrics — 9
Greg Puciato has been with DEP since around 2001 when he got the job during open auditions after Dimitri Minakakis left the band. Since that time his voice has become as much a part of DEP's sound as Ben's crazy guitar work. Where Greg shines as he can really scream bloody murder and still be understandable and his voice seems to be invincible. The backup vocals, I'm assuming, are mostly provided by Ben Weinman but unfortunately I'm reviewing a digital copy of the album and don't have the benefit of liner notes. Either way, the backup vocals are strong throughout the entire album. There seems to be much more variety in the vocals than on previous releases. There is more frequency and creativity of the use of clean vocals than on their previous releases.
A lot of the lyrics off the album come across as what I would expect from Edgar Allen Poe's stream of consciousness in modern times. A good example are some of the lyrics from their first single, "Prancer": "How could it all be/ we've never been dead/ but never awake from this dream/ how could it all be/ we'll never be dead/ just mirrors running scared/ slicing wrists while we look for our own mortality/ all the lights went out cold/ shadow covers the soul/ essence of the world made ceremonial/ now we all wait for the demise/ what was the question/ why do you need an answer."
Overall Impression — 9
As a confession, while I've always liked DEP, they were always kind of a second string band in my mind because their songs seemed to run together. "One Of Us Is The Killer" transcends this and I'm not sure exactly why, but the songs don't begin to run together in the first listen, the second or even the tenth. There are enough shifts in mood in the songs to really let them each have their own character. There are passages of clean vocals, there are moments where the music lessens the intensity of the chaos for a moment and lets the songs breathe. Don't take this to mean there is less aggression and intensity in the music because this album maintains a high level of both throughout. My favorite tracks on the album are the title track, "Nothing's Funny" and "The Threat Posed By Nuclear Weapons," but I don't expect a lot of agreement on those songs being the best. Personal tastes and all that jazz. The bottom line is that "One Of Us Is The Killer" is a very solid release, and one of my favorites from DEP. It stacks up well against their back catalog and shows that they aren't sleeping on the job, but instead staying true to their "artistic vision" while continuing to stretch their legs a little bit.