Album Review: The Dillinger Escape Plan – Option Paralysis

Life, death, suicide, disease, divorce… The heavier the events in life, the more you look for something or someone to relate to. The connection found helps to provide comfort; comfort in knowing that someone else is dealing with the same problems allows for a large sigh of relief. Well, three albums, two singers, two bassists, two drummers and four guitarists later, Dillinger Escape Plan has created the perfect record to confide in.

That album, Option Paralysis, is one of true emotion. It’s filled with anger and fear and violence, yet an odd sense of beauty is found underneath it all. Having taken the talent from past albums and expanding it in almost every way, Ben Weinman and his bandmates have created material of near perfection. It’s quite apparent that the band has a major message to portray, and that the translated product is one of the most unique experiences in music today.

“Farewell, Mona Lisa”, the disc’s first single, opens the album with an onslaught reminiscent of 2004’s “Sunshine the Werewolf”. It seems that the song was placed at the forefront because it leads to an open impression. It almost asks where the band is going with all of this. It becomes apparent quite quickly, though, that the band doesn’t even begin to think of retracing old steps. Instead, what follows is a brand new experience, one that places the band at the pinnacle of their career.

The rest of the album is pure, unpredictable insanity. The short two-minute tracks like “Good Neighbor” and “Crystal Morning” seem to be short interludes that lead listeners to whats waiting around the corner. Don’t get me wrong, the songs are good. Screeching guitars and screams that tell of suicide fill the ears but provide a type of relief in between the major chunks of songs. “Endless Endings” is one such filler that consists of skillful, proggy breakdowns that even Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart of Rush would be proud of.

“Widower” is the one song that will truly surprise new and old fans alike. Its one of the most unique songs the band has crafted so far, which is no small feat. It begins with a wash of beautiful piano that engulfs and surrounds and leaves no room for escape. Rolling drums soon kick in and begin a slow ascent of pain rarely seen. The band may leave you thinking they have gone soft, but two minutes before it’s over the entire song explodes with an all-out mind-numbing assault on the ears. The track finally comes full circle and ends with the same beautiful, contemporary Jazz piano that opened it, all proving that true progression is present within the music.

The second half of Option Paralysis contains, in my opinion, some of the best material the band has ever produced (next to Irony is a Dead Scene, of course). “Room Full of Eyes” gets groovy at certain points, and finally ends with a grungy drone in the same vein as old Alice In Chains. “Chinese Whispers”, one of the album’s strongest tracks, is almost psychedelic in its atmosphere. Screams of chemical weapons made out of broken dreams and the prog-fueled guitar riff truly impress by the end of it all. “I Wouldn’t If You Didn’t” is the last storm before the calm. “Parasitic Twins” closes out the record with eerie synths, cellos, and violins. The vocals and harmonizations reverberate off of time and space creating an atmosphere that seems to almost pay homage to Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. Mechanical drumbeats and space-induced soundscapes offer up the perfect way to end an oddly beautiful album.

The atmosphere and tone on this album are unmatched. Option Paralysis never strays from what it truly is: a progressive-hardcore masterpiece. With perfectly executed time changes and strange auditory oddities, this is the one album of the year that will leave you with jaw agape, listen after listen. While expanding on the best from Calculating Infinity and Ire Works, the boys of Dillinger Escape Plan have created their most unique and versatile record to date. Refusing to give into trends and mainstream ideals seem to play into the outcome of Option Paralysis, and it really shows (maybe starting their own “record label”, Party Smasher Inc., had something to do with it?). The album is one of pain, sorrow and brutality, but it is composed in a very elegant fashion. It sounds as if the album was created for the band members, and for themselves only. The listeners are just passengers on this schizophrenic adventure, forced to go where the music takes them. And, well, in the music world, that will never be a bad thing.

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