Careful, Kids: Remember Not To Break Your Neck While Moshing.
Yo, this be Reuben. I’ve been listening to a lot of metal recently, but that’s been mostly Korn, so I’m not quite used to this. Well, when I say that, don’t assume that means this is the first time I’m listening to this – I wouldn’t be mad enough to review an album at first listen. Anyway! I thought it might be a good idea to write a review of one of this band’s albums because they’re breaking up, and it would be nice to write something about them before that happens; but, well, the main reason I’m reviewing it is that I didn’t know what to write but I wanted to write something, and I was listening to this.
To give you some background, The Dillinger Escape Plan are a New Jersey based metal band who’ve pioneered the “mathcore” genre, by using some pretty mental time signatures and a generally insane energy in their music since their formation. I’d say they’ve got even more energy than Every Time I Die, and the weird side of their music can be likened to Meshuggah, so that’s a pretty good mixture. Based on One of Us Is the Killer, I’d go as far to say they seem like the most energetic band I’ve ever heard, as their explosive speed and heaviness jumps around and moshes like a crazed beast.
At the centerpiece of all this madness is one of my favourite frontmen in general, Greg Pucatio, who is actually the band’s second singer – and has also starred in Killer Be Killed. Well, I say singer, but really I mean drunken madman, because this guy’s been spotted hanging from ceilings and smothering himself in turd while he’s supposed to be singing in live gigs. The guy hasn’t got the most incredible vocal range, but it’s got a heap of personality and a good few ounces of aggression, with a powerful and no-hinges vocal output. He’s also got a pretty good clean singing voice at his disposal that he can use to create some melodic sections to build upon the barrage of breakdowns and bridge sections that the album shoots you with.
Ben Weinman’s also pretty awesome as the band’s main guitarist. I gave him a li’l vote for Loudwire’s guitarist of the year, but admittedly that was mostly down to what I’d heard of him on this album. He’s got great talent to just shred power chords, subtle guitar solos and winding accompaniment tracks, which all come together on One of Us Is the Killer to give your ears an accomplished, math-y (as they say in da hood) collection of guitar bits and pieces.
I mean, the drums are pretty amazing too, some mad beats from Billy Rymer, and the bassist (Liam Wilson) is pretty impressive with his seemingly pick-less skills. Although Weinman’s guitar playage is probably a stand-out here, it works with every other bit of heaviness to make one awe-inspiringly hard-hitting and cool sound, which seems to meld together a load of unrelated notes and drum beats into a sound that works, at least to get you moshing. There is a great variety, heaviness, and a dark atmosphere to One of Us Is the Killer.
However, the randomness of it all is One of Us Is the Killer’s downfall, if it has any. It can be hard to keep up with it all, because it’s constantly changing. I mean, some of my favourite albums are like this, like The Bedlam in Goliath, but when you take it too far, you can get a bit of a mishmash. That’s not to take away from the greatness of the overall music, though, and it’s not to say there aren’t a lot of memorable moments. But it is saying that it can be a bit daunting to listen to, unless you are absolutely in love with it. Unfortunately, I can’t say I am ‘absolutely in love with it’, although I’m certainly a big fan. The lack of order does compliment the mad feel to the album, but it can go too far at points, and it can trail off sometimes (like with CH 375 268 277 ARS – what a name – and Understanding Decay, at least at points); I think if the band had worked with the record a little more and simplified it a little, cut a few sections out, the album would be less rough around the edges. There’s a line for experimentation in metal, and I think they tip-toed over it every now and then in this record.
Despite it being pushed a little too far, though, the variety on show in One of Us Is the Killer is fantastic. There is a collection of unfathomable breakdowns, speed sections, melodic choruses and the like throughout. It’s brutal, cool, and catchy at times. For breakdowns, there is no place better than here – listen to Hero of the Soviet Union and prove me wrong, why don’t you.
In conclusion, One of Us Is the Killer delivers a humbling vocal output from Greg Pucatio, mind-numbing guitar and drum work, the best breakdowns you’ll ever hear alongside a load of other tings to make it arguably one of the best metal albums of the decade, although it does force you to brave some pretty scary sections and could do with some more editing, resulting in an album that can be pretty intimidating to start listening to – it requires a certain mood, folks:
If you are in the mood to mosh, listen to this now and you will be impressed. Otherwise, maybe wait until you are.
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