The Dillinger Escape Plan are a band of dizzying possibilities, one of which is morphing into a pile of musical gibberish. With their heady fusion of metal and hardcore punk, the New Jersey group consistently set a high bar for technical accomplishment and merciless anger.
Dillinger's signature sound is not as distinctive as the beautiful death metal of Cynic or the lurching, bendy riffs of Coalesce. That's beside the point, though. The five-piece have been on a math-inspired mission, reflected in album titles like 1999's Calculating Infinity and 2010's Option Paralysis. But if there is a way to act like a thinking man's metal act, Dillinger's members don't bother. While Cynic leader Paul Masvidal comes off a bit New Agey, with his yoga and headless guitars, Dillinger vocalist Greg Puciato has been known to run atop the heads of the crowd like an inconsiderate would-be Jesus.
With blistering speed and complexity as the starting point, pushing into new territory is a momentous challenge Dillinger seem to savor. They awe and innovate at the same time, as demonstrated on 2007's Ire Works. Even its heavier tracks feel thrillingly lean. The guitar leads on the short "82588" have a rippling fluidity that's really impressive, and "Milk Lizard" would be a straightforward good-time noise-rock song if not for the dissonant piano and melodic vocals. "Black Bubblegum" builds to an eerie chorus with grace.
The band's new One of Us Is the Killer induces no such fascination. Too often, Puciato seems to channel the half-melodic, half-bizarro vocal style of Mike Patton, who joined the band on the 2002 EP Irony Is a Dead Scene. But Killer offers a great deal of brilliantly executed pummeling, climaxing on "Magic That I Held You Prisoner." Much of this track is predictable, except for the sinister twinkle of a glockenspiel, but it's hard not to admire Dillinger's balanced pairing of dexterity and sensory overload.