Cons: Some songs may take time to grow on listeners
The Deftones sixth album is an accomplishment on several different levels and contains some of the band's best material to date. After their bassist (Chi Cheng) was involved in a car accident which put him into a coma, there was a concern among fans if the group would even continue. The album they were working on at the time, Eros, was put on hold completely. After some time, the band decided to recruit a long-time friend to play bass for them in Chi's absence. This friend is Sergio Vega and although he plays a different style than the band's original bassist, he does not fail to deliver on this album. This record marks Sergio's first debut with the band on any of their albums. On a final note, this album was supposedly written and recorded in two months. While this may cause some fans and critics some concern, this record went on to win the "rock album of the year" from itunes. This album succeeds on multiple levels and is beginning to get the attention that it deserves.
The album begins with the single, "Diamond Eyes," where the listener is immediately bludgeoned by a heavy guitar riff performed by Stephen. While the music remains heavy, the vocals remain relatively soft creating a enjoyable blend between both styles. The listener is then left with only the riffs at the end which will undoubtedly be stuck in many fans heads as it brings the track to a violent end. The heaviness continues with the next two songs, "Royal" and "Cmnd/Ctrl." Royal delivers a slow crushing riff with Chino screaming all over the verses will singing the chorus calmly and soft. His anger builds until he finally delivers one of his most blood-curdling screams in recent memory at the end of the song. Cmnd/Ctrl has more of a punk feel to me, but with a Deftones twist. Possibly influenced by the Bad Brains (one of Chino's favorite bands), Chino delivers an aggressive catchy verse over stop and start guitar riffs. Definitely a track worth checking as it delivers a high dose of energy in a small amount of time.
The album's fourth song, "You've Seen The Butcher," puts more of an emphasis on groove. An ominious but interesting guitar riff repeats a couple times before the drums crash in and the song kicks off. Chino croons seductively about taking a woman home and delivers yet another catchy chorus that will be stuck between the listener's ears for days. The song name has been used for an earlier demo recorded by the band and this is speculated to be a re-worked version of it. If so, it has now developed into a song that can stand its own against the rest of the band's catalogue.
"Beauty School," as the name suggests, is the first of a few tracks where the Deftones try to create beauty by utilizing their softer, more melodic side. Frank really shines on this track by using his DJ equipment to build a strong foundation for the song. However, Abe's soothing drumming really gives this track life and makes it a memorable song. I also think that this is one of Chino's best "singing" moments on the album. Definitely worth a listen.
The next two track return to the heavier sound the band has to offer. "Prince" contains a bass line that completely steals the show. Up until this point, Sergio has been relatively quiet in terms of experimentation and this track lets him shine. This track sounds similar to "Rx Queen" from the band's album White Pony. Although I heard these tracks how somehow related. Next, "Rocket Skates" explodes right away into a jagged loud riff before the bass and drums crash. Chino screams his head off on this track and may be the most aggressive track on the album. Fans of the band's older work should be pleased and was a strong choice for a lead single.
"Sextape" returns to the band's softer style and is one of the most beautiful sounding things the band has ever written. Despite the name, the song is actaully very romantic. What I like about many Deftones songs, such as this one, are that the lyrics suggest feelings and actions rather than explicitly describe them. The guitar line is soft and intricate as Chino sings over it in a calm and relaxing fashion. This is one of the best tracks on the album and gives the album balanced feel by following the most aggressive song on the album with the lightest.
"Risk" is next and contains a chugging guitar riff that remains constant through most of the song. Chino delivers a solid performance but I can't help skipping this song from time to time. Its not bad my any means, it just doesn't always do much for me. This song just seems repetitive after a few listens to me, but the song is still better than anything I have heard on the radio recently.
The last two songs are more dream-like, although I would not classify them as dream-pop (i.e. My Bloody Valentine). "976-Evil" contains a slow and hypnotizing guitar riff. It soothes the listener as Chino gently sings over the well timed drum pattern. This song runs smotthly until it echoes and fades out much like a dream does when a person wakes up from one. "This Place Is Death" also has an echo, surreal, dream-like quality about it but sounds completely different than the previous song. The album closer is more frantic and sexual, yet it feels like a dream that is on the brink of being a nightmare and could turn into one at any second. This song kept me on my toes, but in a good way. I will admit that when I first heard the album, I did not like this song much. This one may take time to grow.
Overall, I recommend this album to anyone who is a fan of rock music. This is probably also a good starting point for newer fans of the band. The album accomplishes so much and is another incredible performance by the Deftones. Sergio Vega also does a nice job here.
Personnel: Chino Moreno - Vocals, Stephen Carpenter - Guitars, Sergio Vega - Bass, Abe Cunningham - Drums, Frank Delgado - keyboards/ turntables/ samples
Tracklisting: 1. Daimond Eyes, 2. Royal, 3. Cmnd/Ctrl, 4. You've Seen The Butcher, 5. Beauty School, 6. Prince, 7. Rocket Skates, 8. Sextape, 9. Risk, 10. 976-Evil, 11. This Place Is Death