A large part of Deftones appeal has always been their ability to say as much with the caress of a guitar chord as some bands struggle to articulate across an entire album. The effect carries over to descriptions of the band, as adjectives like aggressive, raw and powerful (all of which are entirely fitting) still manage to sound feeble when put alongside the music itself. This is a visceral band making visceral music that 15 years and six albums later still manages to sound contemporary, interesting and most of all, relevant.
And if you want proof, you have no further to look than their new album Diamond Eyes. It is perhaps Deftones’ most cohesive album yet and definitely displays their most ferocious moments since White Pony, if not Around the Fur. The titular track that opens proceedings sounds like a band reinvigorated, focused, even eager to be creating music. Their pendulum-like approach to immediacy and restraint is ever present, best exemplified on the all out assault of ‘Royal’, ‘Rocket Skates’ and ‘Cmnd/Ctrl’ in the former instance and ‘Sextape’, ‘Beauty School’ and ‘Prince’ in the latter. The album leaves out the one electronic song that the band has felt necessary to include on their last few releases and it benefits from it. The pace remains relatively the same and the band is more than capable of variation without those dalliances.
Diamond Eyes’ only downfall is its occasional tendency towards over familiarity. Because of that it’s not as engaging at the end as it is at the beginning, when the band sounds the most innovative and vital it ever has. The bar is set so high by the opening song alone, which is one of the best songs Deftones have ever committed to record.
How much any of this album’s strength has to do with the no-doubt painful emotions surrounding the band since bassist Chi Cheng’s accident is unclear, but we can only hope he recovers soon to rejoin Deftones, who are at the top of their game.