When I was 15 I had to do some naff work experience week for school. I had asked to be put at a recording studio in Windsor, but they soon closed down. The work experience co-ordinator was confident we could find a solution: “We’ve found you the next best thing!” they assured me. Where did I end up? The stock room of Slough’s HMV store as it turned out. Needless to say, it was one of the most tedious things that I have ever done. However, one good thing came out of it – the guy who I was working with for most of the week was a raving fan of The Dillinger Escape Plan. I’d just started going through a rebellious phase and was getting into punk and hardcore (unfortunately, my parents are pretty opened minded and couldn’t give two shits about my out-there statement of listening to ‘noise’, so that backfired), but when this dude put on their 2007 release, Ire Works, it blew my mind; I felt like I’d landed in a different dimension. Since then, I have pounced on every release, watched them literally tear apart the main stage at Hevy Fest, and lost all hope of ever being able to really play an instrument.
And so, six years later, they present One of Us is the Killer. Now, as often happens with most wacky and confusing bands, Dillinger’s earliest records are hailed as ‘the best’, arguably because they are the most unhinged and therefore the least mainstream – see also Every Time I Die’s Last Night In Town compared with New Junk Aesthetic. As everyone knows, if more than 100 people like a band, it’s time to stop liking that band and start calling people ‘posers’. In a way, I can kind of understand with Dillinger, because their very essence was a fucked-up, mind-bending, but inexplicably polished chaos. However, because that is what they do, even their most ‘mainstream’ records are not ‘mainstream’ at all – I wouldn’t catch my dad sneaking a bit of Ire Works in while he cooks dinner. The reason I make this distinction is because, relatively speaking, OOUITK is one of the band’s easier-going releases, but it is still a genre-wrecking-ball of mammoth choruses, riffs that you couldn’t imagine creating even if you were on every sort of drug ever, at the same time, and drum beats that ordinarily would require at least seven drummers to play.
The main driving forces behind Dillinger – vocalist Greg Puciato, and guitarist Ben Weinman – are unmistakeable, all the way from ear-battering opener Prancer to the maniacal album closer The Threat Posed By Nuclear Weapons. The title track, while being the most ‘normal’, is the perfect example of the intense dynamic that the pair share: Greg switches between piercing screeches and eerie crooning, while Ben goes from bizarrely-placed but well-fit jazzy noodling to dissonant, apocalyptic riffs in the blink of an eye. Their remarkable ability to not only write but play songs that fluctuate so violently in a way that is so seamless is what makes the band. And despite the band’s revolving-door-line-up, Greg and Ben aside, it still sounds like the same band. At the same time, despite the band’s inherent scrambled sound, they still managed to create a record that is different. Admittedly, it’s far more Ire Works than it is Miss Machine, but it is undoubtedly worth a listen for existing fans. For people who don’t already know Dillinger, I couldn’t tell you if it’s worth your time; regardless of the album, they are definitely a band that you either get or you don’t.