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Deftones - Ohms (Album Review)

Friday, 25 September 2020 Written by Matt Mills

Photo: Tamar Levine

When they released their eighth album, ‘Gore’, in 2016, alt-metal heroes Deftones once again reaped critical acclaim but split their fanbase down the middle. After forging a career by mixing crunchy metal riffs with ethereal shoegaze melodies, the Californian put their name to a more ambient dream-rock disc. They’d swapped exciting bite for a more unilateral emphasis on beauty—a result of guitarist Stephen Carpenter being disengaged during the songwriting process.

In a move that will bring joy to a great many, their follow up, ‘Ohms’, is a partial return to their roots. Terry Date—who manned the desk on Deftones’ first four albums—returns to the producer role for the first time in 17 years. And, with him at the helm, the quintet have inverted the dream-like bliss of ‘Gore’ into a creeping nightmare.

Opening track Genesis sets the ominous tone, leading into that first, ensnaring riff with quietly foreboding synths. Its pre-chorus features frontman Chino Moreno’s typically brilliant, sustained hums, yet each is prematurely cut off by a shrieking, distorted scream.

The later Spell of Mathematics brings the fuzz, as Carpenter’s echoing riffs whirr their way through the mix like rusty buzzsaw blades. Equally malevolent is the centrepiece Pompeji, with its breakdowns hammered home by wails of “Jesus Christ!”

‘Ohms’ is every bit as consistent as ‘Gore’, but its loyalty lies not with the serenity of 2016 Deftones. Rather, it’s the evil step-brother, putting a dark twist on mainstays (like repeating guitar chords and Moreno’s spotless singing) that were previously luscious.

‘Ohms’ may not have the bite of fan favourites like ‘Diamond Eyes’ or even ‘Around the Fur’, but it’s as dark and alluring as anything else in Deftones’ canon. If you hated ‘Gore’, this is a subversive twist worthy of your time; if you loved ‘Gore’, this has the same hypnotic atmosphere and is equally worthy of your time.



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