Versus: The Dillinger Escape Plan – ‘Miss Machine’ VS ‘Option Paralysis’

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With the amount of member rotation similar to that of a college sex party, The Dillinger Escape Plan have managed to achieve the same level of consistency throughout each of their releases since the band first formed, with Ben Weinman being the only constant and thus pimp at said sex party.

With 4 full lengths under their belt, the band have progressed from the mathcore/jazz fusion days of ‘Calculating Infinity’ before Greg Puciato took a reign on the vocals as ‘Miss Machine’ found vocally singable choruses and actual song structures that you could repeat back to yourself. A dip into the electronic production in ‘Ire Works’ led the band into 2010s ‘Option Paralysis’ which was a culmination of all of the bands efforts thus far. The band’s next offering ‘One Of Us Is The Killer’ is set to be released by Sumerian Records on the 14th May and will be performed live with new guitarist James Love after Jeff Tuttle’s departure! Will those boys ever learn? (Maybe the secret to success is to constantly change members?) Anyway, new song ‘Prancer’ can be heard here, but make sure you’ve got a spare pair of socks at the ready.

Both Ollie Connors and Mikey Brown are big fans of the band and argue respectively that ‘Miss Machine’ and ‘Option Paraysis’ are the band’s best work. What do you think? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Miss Machine (by Ollie Connors)
How do you even begin to describe the music of 
The Dillinger Escape Plan? The NJ quintet encompass such a miasma of styles, from the flat-track brutality of mathcore to the enigmatic world of jazz fusion, this band can go from accumulating intensity, speed and momentum like X-Men’s Juggernaut (bitch!) to blindsiding us with a progressive and experimental side many have emulated but never bettered. 1999 saw the release of ‘Calculating Infinity’, a dazzling display of technicality, which provided the framework for what would become their magnum opus, 2004’s ‘Miss Machine’. In the time span between these full-length releases, the band lost original vocalist Dmitri Minakakis, record ‘Irony Is A Dead Scene’ with icon Mike Patton, and finally land on permanent (to this day) vocalist Greg Puciato. It was the addition of Puciato that allowed the band to push on and create an album like this; his vocal talents are utterly sublime throughout this record, and the way in which he can switch between a guttural, wounded buffalo roar, shrill screams and, something completely unexpected of this band to this point, a fantastic singing voice.

‘Calculating Infinity’ gave TDEP a fantastic blueprint to work from, but for all its mind-melting dynamics and blistering riffs, it lacks the dimension this record brings. This record is where Dillinger hit a creative zenith, where they honed their artistic skills to perfection, where they actually learned to write SONGS. A song like ‘Highway Robbery’, with a chorus you can ACTUALLY SING THE WORDS TO, was unprecedented in the ’…Infinity’ days, and ‘Miss Machine’ benefits greatly from this change in tack. There are still moments where the band resort to pure brute force; see ‘Van Damsel’ and ‘We Are The Storm’ for reference, but Miss Machine proves time and time again that there is so much more to The Dillinger Escape Plan just under the surface.

The album begins with one of the all-time great one-two combo hits as ‘Panasonic Youth’ and ‘Sunshine The Werewolf’ announce the arrival of this record with all the subtlety of a tonne of bricks to the face. This was the last record drummer Chris Pennie made with the band, and you can see what a vital component he was to this band’s rhythm section, as he and guitarist Ben Weinman are the driving force behind the manic, colossal release of energy that is ‘Panasonic Youth’. Not a note is wasted as the band crash into ‘Sunshine The Werewolf’, which breaks down halfway through into one of the greatest moments music has provided on a personal level; Puciato’s almighty bellow of “DEEEEEESTROYYYYYAAAAAAAA” begins a segment which leaves you feeling like Godzilla crushing little villages; very little makes me feel the way I do when Puciato shrieks over a wonderfully employed string sample.

Perhaps this album’s greatest strength is the influences they allowed in – previous efforts felt a little like a wildly flailing ADHD kid, doing what they wanted their own way, but here they’ve taken a measured, considered approach, and let the art of others seep in just a little. ‘Phone Home’, for instance, sounds like the best thing Nine Inch Nails never wrote, and ‘Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants’ sounds like a hangover from the Mike Patton era – it could’ve easily found its way onto Tomahawk’s Mit Gas. Admittedly, my first exposure to Dillinger was through ‘Baby’s First Coffin’, the first original song they wrote with Puciato, which I discovered through the soundtrack to vamp flick “Underworld” (yeah, I not only watched that movie but bought its OST, fight me); if I had heard ’…Infinity’ first I may feel differently about this record – it was incredibly divisive amongst their fanbase at time of release, but I land very firmly in the Double-M camp.

As the album closes out just as strongly as it starts, with a tag-team hit ‘Unretrofied’ (a ballad. A BALLAD FOR CHRISSAKES. How many other mathcore bands do you see with the balls to write ballads?!) and ‘The Perfect Design’ ending with a wonderful flourish, from first note to last this is something truly special. The band have continued in this rich vein of form since, and I look forward with baited breath to new record ‘One Of Us Is The Killer’, their fifth full-length. However, nothing can quite replace the first exposure to a group this rich in talent and quality – this blows my tiny little mind in 2013 every bit as much as it did in 2004. The rewards are endless in Miss Machine – the sound of a band fully grasping their potential and creating the record that confirmed their place as the undisputed kings of technical metal.

Option Paralysis (by Mikey Brown)
The Dillinger Escape Plan make me realise that I need a larger vocabulary. Back in 2009 I was exposed to
‘Milk Lizard’ and I fell in love. It was just a grope and a taste on my tongue that kept me lusting for me. So, of course, ‘Ire Works’ was purchased and it was then that I realised that ‘Milk Lizard’ was nothing compared to what lied beneath; a deep, passionate and rough as fuck love that would leave me exposed, tied up and spanked till my butt cheeks were red raw. The Dillinger Escape Plan dominated me. Delving into their history and seeing their past lovers brought myself to ‘Miss Machine’ which I could also argue that it’s their best album. However, I love an underdog; a challenge. But this isn’t really a challenge. ‘Option Paralysis’, TDEP’s 4th full length is easily as good as the other chaotic abominations that they’ve spawned, and all for good reason.

My “rival” Ollie is right that Greg Puciato’s arrival in time for ‘Miss Machine’ allowed TDEP to actually write real, songs. You know, with a structure that you can follow and comprehend as having a verse/chorus/repeat format, displayed brillian Popular song structures like this are accessible and create for easier listening and this is one of the areas where ‘Option Paralysis’ really takes hold. The climax on ‘Gold Teeth On A Bum’ brilliantly displays Greg’s vocal chords and parades him as the great singer he actually is, despite the juxtaposition of ferocious roars and growling on following song ‘Crystal Morning’. You can even hear the harsh and twisted chords from ‘Calculating Infinity’ rattle through on ‘Good Neighbor’, 

Previous album saw ‘Ire Works’ saw a progression into the electronic side of mathcore with an auditory tourette’s syndrome, demonstrated through grooves, glithces and crackles in ‘When Acting As A Wave’ alongside the driving guitars and hard hit drums of usual TDEP depth. Another example being the bed given for the “poppier” style, let’s say, of ‘Black Bubblegum’. I’m resorting to explaining previous songs and examples as like with the popular song structures found in ‘Miss Machine’ and utilised in ‘Option Paralysis’, ‘Ire Works’ experimented with electronics and flourishes in ‘Endless Endings’, jamming alongisde the insane/godly guitar work of only founding member left Ben Weinman.

But don’t hold back now Dillinger, keep on blowing our minds. Ben seduces the black and white ivory out of a piano with Greg’s sultry timbres on ‘Widower’. You wanted a ballad? Here it is, in plain sight. And what was that? Yeah, a mothertruckin’ timpani. It’s an unusual start for a song by the almighty Dillinger Escape Plan but builds into something so much more. And it’s catchy. Yeah, catchy. Imagine that! The melodies provided by Puciato are those that grind their way into your head with only a lobotomy ordeal being able remove them. 

I think ‘Option Paralysis’ is The Dillinger Escape Plan’s best effort because it demonstrates who they are. It demonstrates every aspect of their music that they’ve uncovered and it’s paved the way for where they are and who they are now. I love every album for different reasons and they’re all bundled together in the maturer offering that is ‘Option Paralysis’. I’m sure their next album ‘One Of Us Is The Killer’ will demonstrate an even bigger array of experimentation, perfectly executed and perfectly chaotic. And even if I have gained a bigger vocabulary by then I’ll probably be blown away and at a loss for words. Again.

What is your favourite album from The Dillinger Escape Plan? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

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