Once and again with my near-irresistable urges, I really wanted to call this post “OMG, Deftones”, except that this time the reason mostly eludes me, other than that I wanted to make some form of easily recognisable exclamation. Thankfully, however, I can most of the time recognise what is unnecessary silliness on my part – it’s just that it’s also often too late. (I guess even if not, I can’t resist pointing it out, anyway).
When I heard Deftones were releasing a new album, I googled for more info – as one does. Two pieces of information increased its desirability by quite a bit. 1. Despite the mixed reception, enough had issued ‘best since White Pony’ to make me go ‘ooooh, really?’ 2. As seen above, the album cover features a white owl.
I’m not even kidding about #2. Owls rule.
While I have all of Deftone’s studio albums, plus the Back to School EP and B Sides & Rarities, White Pony was my first foray into their catalogue and remains a definitive favourite – helped in no small part by a rather massive obsession with Passenger (not to mention a few other incredibly good moments in the way of Digital Bath, Change (In The House of Flies) and Pink Maggit). Passenger is, in fact, the only song that could even hope to come anywhere near the high playcount for my other obsession, Tori Amos‘ Cooling (rather interesting combo, really, if you think about it).
Diamond Eyes doesn’t really offer anything (to me) quite like Passenger – as well it shouldn’t, and wasn’t necessarily expected. At least, it doesn’t offer it in any one track. Let’s face it, it was one hell of a sexy song, and on the whole, Diamond Eyes is a pretty damn sexy album.
Musically, I think it’s some of their strongest work. If I had to suggest any particular reason why, I would do what most others have and point to the tragic circumstances surrounding the current (and hopefully temporary) absence of original bassist, Chi Cheng. Life-altering events have a habit of inspiring drive, to cut back to what’s necessary, and to change what you see as important. Working on the now indefinitely shelved Eros at the time (and respect to them for that decision), they brought in Silvio Vega for Diamond Eyes. And, in reading an interview here and there, altered their writing/recording process – rather, as with White Pony, all songs were written before the recording process began, and it shows.
There is a point to be made here, and Deftones make it quite clearly. Chino’s vocals are more pronounced and stronger than ever – I’m not the biggest fan of high-pitched, screaming vocals, but in the places they occur, it’s quite an acheivement here in that I can actually handle them without grimace – while Carpenter’s guitar work matches that focus with driven, decisive and often quite hard-hitting, infectious riffs(particularly effective on tracks like Prince and Risk). Heavy and hard-edged, yes, but not exactly weighted by what some would see as the burden of the circumstances.
Occasionally, I think I’d like to know how Chino’s mind works when I read the lyrics to Deftones’ songs. Then I think it would be a bit like a magician revealing his secrets – or perhaps just a flasher revealing something else, it’s hard to tell and I think I’ll stick with the wondering, it’s much more enjoyably indulgent. They are composed like a selection of thoughts – the kind of fleeting, fragmented ones that arrive in between remembering to breathe. Singularly, they come across as being overt in their intention, but in context they’re a somewhat more obscure and would best be left at suggestive.
That’s probably quite enough, I think, so I’ll leave it with current personal fave, You’ve Seen The Butcher.