By Todd Hamm / Special to The Seattle Times
The breakneck brand of metal that New Jersey’s the Dillinger Escape Plan helped pioneer a decade-and-a-half ago still strikes a chord around these parts. Maybe it’s because we love the electric shock that comes with the genre, but it could also be pegged to the fact that bands like Tacoma’s Botch were digging into the same mathcore tool kit around the same time.
If Botch hadn’t broken up, perhaps they’d be on this bill, or even headlining it. But things have changed, and while Botch’s members have moved on to bigger things, DEP have simply shifted their focus to keep pace with changing trends.
They bring that retooled sound to El Corazón Saturday.
Save for founding guitarist Benjamin Weinman, DEP’s lineup has completely turned over (a bonus four times in the rhythm guitarist department) since the release of their game changing 1999 debut Calculating Infinity. That phenomenal album forcefully upped the ante for all things mathy and heavy in the music world, and launched them into the land of critical favor.
Through it all, their aggressive tendencies, and absurd technicality have continued to define the group on the surface, but it’s been their growing soft spot for melody, and reliance on the vocal tricks of new lead singer Greg Puciato have come to stand as the most prominent mile markers in their evolution as a band.
This is the trap the quintet’s most recent album, One of Us is the Killer finds itself in — in fact, since the departure of founding vocalist Dmitri Minakakis, it’s been a constant pitfall. Minakakis’ unrelenting brutality behind the microphone served as the band’s mission statement, and a visceral anchor for the mind-blowing projectiles coming off of the band’s instruments. Puciato is a talented screamer to say the least, but dull, singsongy choruses like on “Nothing’s Funny” and the title track cheapen the brew, and seem to bring the rest of the band down around him. Many of the tracks feel contrived, less primal than preening.
DEP occasionally still reach the heights they formerly enjoyed — high-speed metal with impossibly fractured time signatures — but such moments are isolated reminders of the past. They perhaps now appeal more to the Avenge Sevenfold try-hards than the old Botch devotees.
Aside from DEP’s older hits, openers for this show, California’s Trash Talk, are another reason to show up. Their fiery skate-punk is about as rough as it gets, and should properly rile the crowd.
7 p.m. Saturday, April 19 at El Corazón, 109 Eastlake Ave E, Seattle; $20 advance/$23 day of show ((206) 381-3094 or elcorazonseattle.com)