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Deftones - Koi No Yokan (Album Review)

Friday, 09 November 2012 Written by Ben Bland
Deftones - Koi No Yokan (Album Review)

Some bands are not just artists, they are forces of nature. They are unstoppable, no matter what the world might unjustly throw at them. Deftones are one of those bands. In the aftermath of 2006’s 'Saturday Night Wrist' the future for them looked somewhat bleak. Lukewarm critical receptions had replaced the indiscriminate praise that had surrounded their mid-career high point of 'White Pony', and then bassist Chi Cheng was placed in a coma after a car accident. Most bands would cave in at this point; very few would come back as strongly as Deftones did.

ImageWhen released a couple of years ago 'Diamond Eyes' marked itself out not only as the sound of a band that seemed as passionate about its music as ever before but also as a band stung in the tail. Aggression seeped out of every pore, whether it was buried beneath waves of threatening ambience ('Sextape') or barely contained behind a wall of distinctive Stephen Carpenter riffing ('Rocket Skates'). Deftones may never have truly gone away, but rarely has a band sounded so completely reinvigorated on a sixth album.

Even that record, though, acts as poor preparation for the majesty of 'Koi No Yokan'. This record presents a Deftones that, in many ways, is fundamentally different from the one that existed a decade or so ago, but at the same time has a distinctive energy that marks it out from pretty much every other band that ploughs similar furrows. When 'Swerve City' opens this record with an almighty crash there is no doubting that this record represents Deftones at their purest, yet in many ways it is also them at their experimental. For, in a way that is entirely opposite to the forced contrasts of many so-called ‘progressive’ metal bands around today, Deftones truly are an experimental band and 'Koi No Yokan' demonstrates that more effectively than anything before. They are still ruthlessly heavy but the sonic textures here borrow far more clearly from sources like The Cure and Mogwai than they do from Meshuggah or Metallica.

Perhaps it is texture that distinguishes Deftones most clearly from their contemporaries. Whereas many metal bands around today sound compressed and robotic, everything on 'Koi No Yokan' sounds so natural that it provides almost glacial-style soundscapes for listeners to lose themselves in. The intro, and subsequent kick-in, to 'Leathers' is as haunting and punishing as Neurosis at their best, with the guitars floating and twinkling to start with and then getting so damned heavy that reality briefly threatens to collapse in on itself at Deftones’ demand. Carpenter, although often credited as the star of the show with his bewildering guitar tone, is perhaps best seen as leader of a set of musicians that all play their part. Sergio Vega’s basslines meld with Abe Cunningham’s drums to create a rhythm section that is almost inhumanly precise, driving each track on its propulsive course so effectively that they are almost unnoticeable at times. Meanwhile, Frank Delgado provides the layers of ambience that complete the frequently remarkable aural picture that Deftones paint.

Of course, 'Koi No Yokan' can’t be fully described without giving Chino Moreno a healthy dose of praise. His vocals have been incredible for years now, but seem to have become even more powerful over time. He can switch between the hardcore ferocity screams to melodious croon more effortlessly than any other vocalist in the game. Subtly altering his tone to complement each and every track perfectly, Moreno is more emotive and powerful here than perhaps anywhere in the entire Deftones discography. In fact, maybe that applies to Deftones as a whole. Whether this record really tops or matches 'White Pony' is something that nobody will be able to tell for a while yet, but 'Koi No Yokan' is so immediately addictive and grandiose that it beggars belief.

2012 was already one of the best years in forward-thinking heavy music for a long time, but now Deftones may have arrived to top the list. This is truly sensational.

'Koi No Yokan' is out on Monday 12th November via Reprise. Deftones tour the UK in February.

Deftones UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri February 15th 2013 - Barrowland, Glasgow
Sat February 16th 2013 - Rock City, Nottingham
Mon February 18th 2013 - Manchester Academy, Manchester
Tue February 19th 2013 - O2 Academy Birmingham, Birmingham
Wed February 20th 2013 - O2 Academy Brixton, London

Click Here to Compare & Buy Deftones Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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