Deftones - Ohms
Reprise Records
Experimental Alt Metal
10 songs (46:17)
Release year: 2020
Deftones, Reprise Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

A mere four years after the wildly underrated Gore, Deftones have powered through their 30th anniversary with barely a blink, several members having either reached the age of 50 (guitarist Stephen Carpenter, bassist Sergio Vega) or are rapidly approaching it (vocalist Chino Moreno, drummer Abe Cunningham, turntablist/keyboardist Frank Delgado). The band were already associated with introspective, atmospheric, sensual music before the tragic accident that put bassist Chi Cheng into a coma in 2008; since then, much of the narrative surrounding Deftones has been how they have coped with losing a bandmate in multiple ways, from the (seemingly permanent) shelving of the unreleased Eros to Cheng's eventual passing in 2013. The yearning sorrow that lies at the heart of the band erupts constantly, from Diamond Eyes' groovy, stomping grumpiness to Gore's more esoteric and experimental doom-tinged pounding. And now we have Ohms, something of a mixture of the two, carrying on with the proggier stylings of Gore but reverting back to the band's earlier days in spirit, resulting in a truly diverse set of songs that kick the ears hard but consistently and memorably.

They're all clearly the work of the same group, friends if not family that have weathered plenty of storms together, and that can still easily tap into a reflective, very human physicality that hits many of the same buttons as more conventionally atmospheric acts like Sweden's Cult of Luna but in a much more grounded way - you can't imagine Cult of Luna making a song as bluntly about human relationships as You've Seen the Butcher or Phantom Bride! And those that enjoy the band's gloomy side will love the downright gloomy album opening in Genesis, a brief melodic (and prog-touched) intro soon turning to downtuned guitars pounding out a doomy toll as Chino alternatively shrieks and croons atop. The harsh and soft sides of the band are both very much on show, here and elsewhere, both channelled powerfully thanks to Deftones' ever-sharp songwriting skills, as notable from the way that songs end and begin with seamless flow as from actual hooks, of which there are plenty. Those wordless "ooh"s in Ceremony, the drum-focused Error with its infectious yet verging-on-nu-metal guitars, Pompeji's oddly catchy "jesus! christ!" chorus and seagull-backed synthy blissfulness - it all adds up to an ear-friendly experience.

Yet for all the mainstream attention that the hipster-friendly Gore received, Deftones are still very much a metal band. The alternatively proggy melodies and groovy riffs of Urantia form an uneasy yet ear-friendly mix, again marrying the light and dark personas of the band but doing so consistently heavily in sheer heavy metal terms, that infectious guitar a constant whether thrashing or texturally vibing. Deftones' atmospheric, space-rocky elements are always underappreciated, and here there are moments where they are allowed to stretch themselves, such as the gorgeous vistas of brooding guitars and heartfelt vocals that make up The Spell of Mathematics, not to mention the finger-snapping final instrumental section. And even Pompeji throws the riffs in beneath the vocal hooks, as does the angsty This Link is Dead after that weirdly Blade Runner-esque opening. Particularly in the second half there's a sense of nervous build, the tension-filled Radiant City barely releasing in its choruses, and all is released in the closing title track, one of the band's best songs to date. A slightly more complex structure and ever-infectious riffing comes together with a more optimistic and cheerful-seeming vocal performance, ending the album on a high note and simply demanding repetition. It's a more than superb ending to an excellent record, definitely amongst the best mainstream metal releases of the year and beating plenty of underground ones, too - still a great band, still making great music, Deftones impress consistently.

Killing Songs :
Genesis, Urantia, Error, Pompeji, Ohms
Goat quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Deftones that we have reviewed:
Deftones - Gore reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Deftones - Koi No Yokan reviewed by Khelek and quoted 87 / 100
Deftones - Around the Fur reviewed by Tyler and quoted 80 / 100
Deftones - Diamond Eyes reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Deftones - Deftones reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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