Album Review: Deftones – Diamond Eyes

May 4, 2010

Concept: The only existing Nu Metal band with a sense of dignity manages a seventh album to replace its unreleased sixth, out of respect for their former bassist who is currently in a coma. As the unreleased album, Eros, allegedly returns to their aggressive earlier sound, Diamond Eyes is presented as ecstatic and celebratory.

Sound: Ever since their sophomore release, Deftones have displayed a peculiar but attractive combination of hip-hop, metal, and ambient pop. The third is where their proficiency lies, and the drift of hazy, erotic vocals in contrast over pounding, growling eight string guitar is their trademark. This formula still seems to work for them, but their eerie electronics and alternately infectious and majestic drumwork are lacking this time around. Furthermore, there’s a dangerous new element at play. The majority of tracks feature multiple bridges, interludes, or cuts into different time signatures. That sounds like close to an absolute benefit, but it’s executed terribly half of the time, most blatantly on their second single, Rocket Skates. Each piece of it sounds good, but it’s slapped together in a disjunctive, stunted circuit, and then grossly overdrawn. Deftones has always drifted, and with the coupling of this habit to more complicated formats they come across as indecisive and dissipating. Other songs, most notably Prince and Risk, bear the recycled traces of earlier hits in an attempt to remedy this. Taming looser time signatures into pop format serves them well on three occassions by adding sweep to the chorus of the titular song and swagger on You’ve Seen The Butcher and the verse of the album’s noisiest track, CMND/CTRL, which very well may be the best of the lot.

Lyrics: Frontman Chino Moreno’s lyricism has made a noticable decline over the last two albums, and not only because it has become more repetitive. He’s losing his ability to paint a picture and cranking out tactless, seemingly unrelated phrases more frequently. That is especially a problem when your lyricism’s content consists almost entirely of attempts to elegantly conflate sex and death.  Luckily, some of it still fits together, and he can still align his words with the emotion of the music to dramatic effect.

Quick And Dirty: Both less original and less listenable than their previous work. If you’ve never listened to Deftones before, this might be a nice sampler of their range of riffs, but speaking as a fan it only proved disillusioning. (♦♦♦)

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