It has been almost two and a half years since their last album, but the Deftones are back with a vengeance with their 7th studio album.
Hailed as a resounding success by Deftones’ fans, “Koi No Yokan” takes no prisoners, being slightly reminiscent of their much-revered album, “White Pony” from which their Grammy winning track “Elite” came. It seems more cohesive than the last album, “Diamond Eyes”, perhaps due, in part, to the turmoil that the Sacramento band were going through at the time. Bassist Chi Cheng had been involved in a car accident that had tragically left him in a coma, and he had been temporarily replaced with Sergio Vega. The band took the decision to put “Eros” on hold (the album that they had been working on with Cheng), and replace it with something that would better represent the new line up. The resulting “Diamond Eyes” album was safe, conservative and, at times, slightly laboured.
But “Koi No Yokan” sees the band returning to their former glory, keeping the listener on their toes by sweeping from the antagonistic to the ethereal. In the opener, “Swerve City”, the bass is more assured and skips aggressively around the crashing drums and anthemic vocals. The song will surely be a winner in a live setting. Keeping up with the same theme, “Romantic Dreams” cleverly switches between time signatures whilst the rock-steady drums and bass compete with Chino Moreno’s pleading vocal and Stephen Carpenter’s euphoric guitar.
The following “Leathers” is one of the shining stars of the album, with the delicate intro lulling the listener into a false sense of security before a brash vocal and guitar combo crashes in and punches the eardrums. Once again the song contains anthemic, tormenting vocals against a backdrop of heavy guitar riffs, with Moreno urging someone to come out of their shell and reveal themselves. In the following track, the choice of using programmed claps at the start of “Poltergeist” over the heavy bass and guitar riff seems strange, but in a funny kind of way it seems to work, giving way to a strong performance by Carpenter on guitar.
“Entombed” serves to calm the frenetic haze of the previous tracks, uniting angst-ridden lyrics about being under someone’s spell with soothing guitar riffs. The combination of programmed beats from Frank Delgado and live beats from Abe Cunningham work well. However, whilst the song is perfectly placed, it is slightly drawn out. But no matter, the following “Graphic Nature” is another triumph, building on the lyrical theme of the previous track, but with stronger guitars, bass and drums.
In “Tempest”, the listener is once again soothed with the intro before heavy bass and insistent vocals compete for air, with the fantastic “Gauze” bringing up the rear and sending the band into a rhythmic mantra with Moreno spitting lyrics out in a one-sided argument. To bring perspective, the pulsating and moody “Rosemary” once again starts in a vapour of rhythmic guitars and samples, with Moreno’s angst clearly on display as a metaphoric plane crash ensues.
Penultimate track, “Goon Squad”, is dark and ambient to start with, giving way to angry vocals and heavy guitars and bass. It is, however, laboured, and loses its impact because of this. Fortunately, “What Happened To You?” is very different, being less of a dirge and very unusual compared to the other tracks, and ends the album in a cloud of soaring guitars, unusual drumming and harmonious vocals.
So it seems that the Deftones are back on form and raring to seize the world by its throat. It will be interesting to see how this album pans out when they play it live, particularly due to the anthemic qualities, and the contrast between light and dark in the tracks. Overall this is a great album, and a surefire winner for Deftones fans.