Picture © Adrien Chabal / Achablive (Flickr)
Option Paralysis: the tendency, when given unlimited choices, to make none. Ironic, given that the question of whether or not to buy this record contradicts this dilemma completely. For me, this is the musical event of the year. The upcoming Devil Sold His Soul, Deftones and Protest the Hero offerings can all go suck a fat one – relatively speaking.
I doubt many of you reading this will be unaware of this incredible band; they transcend and skullfuck just about every boundary in extreme music we have. Defying categorization, they are inarguably aggressive, intelligent and groundbreaking in equal measure.
Opening track Farewell, Mona Lisa has been floating around the internet for a good while now. The video was premiered at the beginning of March, but its quality hasn’t diminished despite its now-tremendous familiarity. Chinese Whispers also reared its head fairly recently to a rapturous internet reception, and is (if my interpretation reads correctly) a well-deserved middle finger to the Calculating Infinity-era purists.
There is something here for every Dillinger fan, however. Good Neighbor, a perfectly formed burst of syncopated time signatures and staccato strumming, harks back to their early sound, whilst epic jazz-lounge (not even kidding) tour de force Widower wouldn’t be out of place on Ire Works.
In no way is this amalgamation an effort to please everyone though – more the logical progression of what’s come before.
I’d perhaps like to have seen a little more variation on the patented Dillinger ‘all-at-once’ formula. Whilst the combined force of immediate and simultaneous guitars, drums and vocals is a potent weapon, it is not one to be abused. But I guess it’s a moot point when the tracks still sound utterly amazing.
The album as a whole seems to be a running commentary on the overwhelming influence of internet culture on society today. Mona Lisa, the quintessential beauty, has become a speck in the distance on the metaphorical superhighway of information, buried under an avalanche of memes and social networking sites. In a recent interview with Issue Oriented, Guitarist Ben Weinman lamented the consequences of this age of computers and smartphones, in which so much information is at our fingertips that it is difficult to discern what is important any more. He said “all these things are supposed to be used as tools to achieve new things as opposed to a filter that deadens everything and makes everything less exciting and less inspiring”. Even as I write this review, I find myself wondering how it will stand up against its contemporaries; whether or not it sustains a professional tone or conforms to the journalistic paradigm. I’m also pretty sure that videos of cats are neither inspiring nor important, so why do they distract me so?
If I had any solid gripes with the album it would be some of Greg Puciato’s rhymes, which in a couple of places feel lazy – but even these (and you’ll know what I mean when you hear Gold Teeth on a Bum) are excusable thanks to the unrelenting quality of the musicianship. New drummer Billy Rymer has slotted right in, which is no mean feat considering his first experience of them live was behind the kit at his debut show; in fact he’d never even played a blast beat before joining the band.
The rest of the ensemble are on fine form, too. Rhythm guitarist Jeff Tuttle was brought in as a live replacement for injured Brian Benoit, but has made Option Paralysis his home, contributing both backing and lead vocals on more than one occasion. Greg still dominates in this field however: his screams still grab you by the throat, but it’s his singing that really sets Dillinger apart. He rivals Mike Patton at times, and I could count on one hand how many bands can meld the two disciplines as naturally.
Option Paralysis deserves to rise above the mire of internet banality that Weinman feels is burying artistic spirit and individuality, but as it is I don’t think they have anything to worry about. They have once again struck out on their own, creating something new rather than following a formula. Although this may lose them a few fans, I applaud them for maintaining their artistic integrity. It’s a fantastic record, and a shining example of modern progressive music.
- Farewell, Mona Lisa
- Good Neighbor
- Gold Teeth on a Bum
- Crystal Morning
- Endless Endings
- Room Full of Eyes
- Chinese Whispers
- I Wouldn’t If You Didn’t
- Parasitic Twins
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Option Paralysis gets