The 2011 Arsies: January 10, 2011

January 10, 2011

The second week of the Arsies, and we haven't advanced very far through the alphabet; so much for the halcyon days of metal bands beginning with the letter M! But I digress.
The Dillinger Escape Plan won the coin toss today, so we start with their latest album, "Option Paralysis." After a demented proggy opening that you'd come to expect from DEP, the album's palette widens dramatically. Listen to unpredictable tracks like "Widower" and "Parasitic Twins" and you'll likely be thinking about Voivod, The Mars Volta, or Mr. Bungle while you get pummeled without warning. It's a fun album that goes by surprisingly quickly, given how dense it is.
And then there's Deftones. The bald truth here is that "Diamond Eyes" is the best thing the band have done since "White Pony." What a welcome departure from their last two limp-wristed albums. And, at the risk of being uncouth, the tragedy of Chi Cheng (and the subsequent special-guest-star addition of Quicksand's Sergio Vega as bassist) may have saved the band from an almost certain Sepultura-style irrelevance. The album does occasionally veer away from metal territory, though; while that's laudable from other bands, it just slows these guys down and distracts them (and us) from their core destructive competency... even if they do it tuned down to a low G.
For all its strengths, "Option Paralysis" challenges you to come back to it. "Diamond Eyes" lures you back effortlessly. And so, Deftones' listenability almost wins this round for them (which is shocking, considering how ready I was to write off the band altogether two years ago). But ultimately, there's simply more meat on the bone with the Dillinger Escape Plan, so they get the nod. Congrats!
Tomorrow: Dimmu Borgir vs. Enslaved.

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