The Dillinger Escape Plan: One of Us Is the Killer
Influenced by old punk and hardcore albums and devoid of full-blown sonic excursions, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s fifth full-length album is, if there is such a thing, a “straightforward” affair. Raging, intricate blasts of metalcore mayhem still rule One of Us is the Killer, but with only one “radio-friendly” track, no epic piano jams, and most songs under four minutes, it’s pure adrenaline — and still adventurous as all get out.
Featuring the same recording lineup, the band now benefits from better chemistry between guitarist/songwriter Ben Weinman and drummer Billy Rymer, not to mention an even wider range from vocalist Greg Puciato, who works from eruptive anger to cooing, crooning, chanting, and even spoken (and shouted) word. Sonically, it’s still über-diverse, with bits of glockenspiel, piano, horns, “choir” effects, and keyboard squiggles, plus a “dark bossa nova” interlude, an instrumental synth jam, and an organic drum-and-bass intro.
When it’s said and done, One of Us is the Killer — with Dillinger as mind-blowing as ever — will be one of the best albums of 2013.
-- Scott Morrow
Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City
Pitchfork poster-child Vampire Weekend is back, and once again it has created some of the most culturally nuanced rock around.
The cover art, smog descending on a black-and-white New York cityscape, codifies the direction here. Keys still joyfully dance around Ezra Koenig’s voice, but there are poignant moments, more harpsichord than synth; “Ya Hey” discusses mistakes and reaches over them, with toddler-esque chants making for clap-along introspection. Rostam Batmanglij’s compositions enfold the brain-twisting lyrics in layers of divergent and classically infused sound.
The band still has its liveliness, however, as songs like “Unbelievers” and “Finger Back” reinforce the its love of high-energy high concepts. Wrapping up its trilogy of albums, Vampire Weekend has evolved; dismiss it as twee at your own risk.
-- Lincoln Eddy
Cultura Tres: Rezando al Miedo
"Es Mi Sangre"
Bearing at least a passing resemblance to the crushing sludge of Sepultura and its brethren, Venezuela’s Cultura Tres works from the root of a proven musical commodity. But with harmonized high-string riffs, a few wailing psych-rock leads, and an ability to go quiet and eerie or soft and atmospheric, the “doom suramericano” quartet is very much its own band.
Rezando al Miedo is the band’s third full-length album, and though it doesn’t rewrite the playbook, it delivers songs that are more tightly constructed and well balanced between melody and dissonance, mood and attack. Guitarist/singer Alejandro Londoño Montoya leads the writhing, down-tempo assault with sociopolitical and culture- and history-based lyrics, alternately screamed and moaned in Spanish and English, that are “dragged deep into Latin America’s world of oppression, slavery, and religious madness.” All together, it’s a band hitting its stride — and finally garnering recognition in Europe and beyond.
-- Scott Morrow
(Thrill Jockey, 5/14/13)
"Tragedy of the Mind"
Guitarist/vocalist Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is best known for his role in the “transcendental black metal” outfit Liturgy, but he has played with his bandmates in Survival for more than a decade — and that chemistry reveals itself on this self-titled debut of off-kilter arpeggios and hypnotic rock riffs.
From start to finish, Survival offers all sorts of twisting and aggressive riffs alongside meditative drones, with Hunt-Hendrix chanting in mantras over the cacophony. The overdriven riffing fills nearly every corner of the record, and before long, it’s impossible not to be lulled into a trance by such rhythmically interwoven, masterful repetition.
-- Brandon Goei
Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood: Black Pudding
Singer-songwriter Mark Lanegan, formerly of Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age, is an avid and intrepid collaborator. His latest project finds him working with UK-based multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood, who reprises his role as a contributor on the Mark Lanegan Band’s latest album, Blues Funeral.
Their first album as a dedicated duo, Black Pudding largely spotlights the soulful, finger-picked guitar work for which Garwood is known, but it pairs them with Lanegan’s grizzled vocals. And despite the high caliber of their technique, Lanegan and Garwood’s adaptability is what makes this a strong, re-visitable album. The tracklist is peppered with subtle diversities, spanning from the introspective title track to the funky, Rhodes piano-tinged pulse of “Cold Molly.” Other highlights like “Death Rides a White Horse” thrive on a folksy sorrow, playing like morose swan songs written by an incredibly talented town drunk.
-- Brandon Goei
Bibio: Silver Wilkinson (Warp)
Eluvium: Nightmare Ending (Temporary Residence)
Jaga Jazzist: Live with Britten Sinfonia (Ninja Tune)
Peals: Walking Field (Thrill Jockey)
Titles: Modern Sounds in Science Fiction (Safety Meeting)
Wampire: Curiosity (Polyvinyl)