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Album Reviews : The Dillinger Escape Plan – Option Paralysis

By on June 20, 2010

I was more than a little skeptical about reviewing this album; I had previously only seen a few live clips from the renowned masters of wacked out whatever you call this metal and, despite impresive stage presence the music itself did little to grab me. I thought it would be worthwhile, however, giving this respected troupe a proper chance and I am very glad that I did.

The Dillinger Escape Plan do not follow any conventional formulae and right from the get-go Option Paralysis is a refreshing blend of lilting melodies and unalderated chaos. I don’t know the name for this genre but, whatever it is, I like it. Unlike the majority of clean vocals in hardcore type bands, the cleans of Dillinger actually sound really nice in their own right, the guy can actually sing. This is most evident in the haunting ‘Parasitic Twins’ which is entirely clean vox, a definite highlight of this album for me.

The gutterals would not sound out of place in any other band that utilise that vocal style and they are quite versatile ranging from powerful growls to punk screams. Guitars change from simple to complex riffs, all very fast, within the space of a few bars, typical of Dillinger by the looks of it. However, this album is much more than technical skill and the ability to write a song that appeals to others: highly cliché as it is to say it, Dillinger really have made an album with real emotion and passion, both of which cab be heard particularly clearly in my favourite track; ‘Widower’.

‘Widower’ is essentially a pop-rock number and it isn’t difficult to imagine 12 year old girls screaming for this song to be played; indeed, it could be on the new Twilight soundtrack. There is one little scream-y section, probably all that stops this song slotting into the charts between ‘Bad Romance’ and the latest single from Glee. By turns, it is quiet and spooky and raucous and passionate. Yes, this is far too many words to spend on one song but it really is a killer track and it’s exemplary of the extraordinary diversity this band possesses and which is definitely their strongest suit, at least on Option Paralysis.

I don’t really have anything bad to say about this album. The production is very nice, Steve Evetts who has done work for the likes of Sepultura and The Used is obviously on good form. According to Wikipedia, Ben Weinman (lead guitar) describes Option Paralysis as their “most metal record yet.” and, albeit with my limited experience of their back catalogue, I would venture to say that’s very much the case although it’s still pretty far out and unusual. I guess the artwork leaves a little bit to be desired but it’s not totally hideous like so many albums and even the packaging is quite attractive.

If you’re already a fan of The Dillinger Escape Plan then, obviously, I can’t recommend this album enough. However, it will not be for everybody. Despite the aforementioned occasional populist sensibilities the music of Option Paralysis is intense, diabolical, and complex so if you’re not into that then this probably won’t be your cup of tea. At least give it a whirl on Youtube before you rush out and buy it. That said, this is a damn good album and one of my favourites of the year so far, so definitely check it out. 9/10

Band: The Dillinger Escape Plan
Option Paralysis
: Mathcore
New Jersey (USA)
Season of Mist/Riot


1. Farewell, Mona Lisa
2.  Good Neighbour
3. Gold Teeth On A Bum
4. Crystal Morning
5. Endless Endings
6. Widower <- Reviewers choice
7. Room Full of Eyes
8.  Chinese Whispers <- Reviewers choice
9. I Wouldn’t If You Didn’t
10. Parasitic Twins

Reviewed by Tris


The Dillinger Escape Plan’s rise to success is quite remarkable, considering the pure anti-commercialism of their music. Sure, they’re not selling out stadiums or amassing millions of album sales like Metallica, but their previous album, Ire Works, debuted in the Billboard 200 – an impressive feat for a so-called “Math/Noise Core” band. While Option Paralysis is bound to continue their success in the charts, the band aren’t ones to rest on their laurels, as they serve up a new album full of challenging and experimental music.

It’s obvious that The Dillinger Escape Plan are all about breaking the rules; their songs are made of rabid guitar parts that border on free-form jazz, combined with punk-rock style chord thrashing and avant-garde rhythms. It’s obvious that they’re not going out of their way to become a mainstream act, and it’s a testament to the band’s creativity that they’ve stuck to their guns on this record.

Opening with first single Farewell, Mona Lisa, the band plays like their lives depended on it, with frenetic drums and dissonant guitars barrelling along before moving into various time-signature defying sections. The song takes a breather in the middle, which gives space to show off frontman Greg Pucaito’s growing vocal talents, as well as  new sticksman Billy Rymer’s dynamic playing.

The strangely titled Gold Teeth on a Bum moves with a mid-tempo, off-time groove which somewhat un-expectedly turns into a catchy chorus section, while Widower is a delicate, yet dark, piano based tune, which combines Faith No More style alt-rock with jazz and lounge.

The three shorter songs on Option Paralysis (Good Neighbor, Crystal Morning and Endless Endings) requires the full attention of the listener, and while they do provide bursts of un-bridled fury, it’s the lengthier, more melodic songs that shows off the band’s talent of un-conventional, yet catchy, song-writing ability. The album’s production is fantastic, with a wide range of effects used giving the album a dense, yet experimental, sound through-out.

If you’re a fan of DEP’s previous albums you won’t be disappointed, and the catchier side of some of the new numbers also have the possibility of attracting a wider fan-base. Despite this however, the album is still complex and challenging in many parts, with multiple listens required to un-cover it’s true quality. 8/10

Band: The Dillinger Escape Plan
Album: Option Paralysis
Year: 2010
Genre: Mathcore
Origin: New Jersey, USA
Label: Season of Mist/Riot!

Track listing:
1. Farewell, Mona Lisa (Reviewers Choice)
2. Good Neighbor
3. Gold Teeth on a Bum
4. Crystal Morning
5. Endless Endings
6. Widower <- Reviewers Choice
7. Room Full of Eyes
8. Chinese Whispers
9. I Wouldn’t If You Didn’t
10. Parasitic Twins

Reviewed by Andrew Kapper


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.