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Deftones - Gore (Album Review)

Friday, 08 April 2016 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

It’d be easy for Deftones to get complacent at this point in their career, almost 21 years on from their debut, ‘Adrenaline’. The fact that Googling ‘Deftones’ alongside ‘consistency’ gives you 44,000 results should give you an indication of why the band have endured for so long.

Their biggest strength is ironically also their weakness, in that you always know what to expect from a Deftones record: Stephen Carpenter’s chunky metal riffs, Chino Moreno’s brooding clean vocals and gorgeous interplay between the two. It’s a sound that’s as inimitable as it predictable, pushing the boundaries of metal without veering from an established Deftones template.

While ‘Gore’ lacks the stand out hits of the band’s last two efforts, it pushes the boat out further than any of their releases since ‘White Pony’. From the ominous Acid Hologram to the driving power of Hearts/Wires, the band sound more unhinged than they have done for a while.

Moreno races from 0 to 100 with uncharacteristic urgency at points and, on Doomed User, declares that his “fuse has expired, fucking die, just leave it”.

The album’s heaviest moments also pummel you out of nowhere. Take the screw-face inducing breakdown on Phantom Bride or the ISIS-esque (the band, obviously) savagery of the title track as examples. Deftones have never been ones to shoehorn crunching riffs into the mix for metal credibility; they’ve always been an essential element and felt effortlessly natural. On ‘Gore’, though, they’ve learned the value of the occasional well-thrown spanner in the works.

Unsurprisingly, and somewhat reassuringly, the band retain their more formulaic attributes as well. Lead single Prayers/Triangles is awash with shimmering guitar tones that ring out beautifully amid the shoegaze-inspired production. On (L)MIRL the instrumentation sounds like it’s melting under the sweltering reverb, and there’s a similar emphasis on texture and space on Hearts/Wires.

It’s the exaggeration of certain aspects of their sound that makes these tracks so appealing. The weakest cuts, Geometric Headdress and Pittura Infamante, are most memorable because they embody the more pedestrian side of Deftones’ palette. They would have fit perfectly on ‘Saturday Night Wrist’ or ‘Koi No Yokan’ and would have been considered to be of a good quality. The rest of this album is just far more dynamic by comparison.

Many fans may be disappointed listening to ‘Gore’ for the first time, simply because it lacks the comforts that people go to Deftones for. It’s only natural. We’ve become accustomed to a band who have experimented with metal’s conventions, but not necessarily their own. ‘Gore’ is the record where Deftones double back on themselves and return to challenging their listeners. Time may reveal this to be one of their absolute best.

Deftones Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri June 03 2016 - LONDON SSE Arena Wembley

Click here to compare & buy Deftones Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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