By: Calum Slingerland –
Since 2010, Deftones have changed and grown together as a band. With bassist Chi Cheng entering a coma resulting from a car crash in 2009, and releasing their critically acclaimed album Diamond Eyes in 2010, the band has been making the most of the tough situation they’ve been put into. Deftones’ latest effort, Koi No Yokan (Japanese for ‘anticipation of love’), faces the task of living up to their effort of two years ago. It does so in marvellous fashion, creating a beautifully structured fusion of both heavy and beautiful music, with gargantuan metal numbers co-existing alongside delicate post-rock melodies.
It starts with “Swerve City” setting the tone early, with its pounding drums and sludgy guitar riffs. Add in wonderful vocal harmonies from frontman Chino Moreno, and some prominent bass guitar work from fill-in Sergio Vega and you have yourself one heck of an opening track. “Romantic Dreams” follows with it’s array of ever-changing time signatures and soaring chorus from Moreno, showcasing his awe-inspiring vocal range. “Leathers” is a fine example of a classic Deftones song, starting out with eerie, spacious guitar sounds before exploding into the slamming main riff without warning. The shift between heavy metal and gentler genres constantly appears during this piece, which serves as a powerful moment within the album.
“Poltergeist” is an absolute beast of a track with its crushing, thrashy 8-string guitar work compliments of Stephen Carpenter. The frenzied, immense groove never stops, galloping all the way to the finish and into “Entombed.” A slower, more emotional ballad based around a smooth guitar tapping lick from Carpenter, this one is an album highlight with its beautiful chorus section and layers of electronics and other instruments drenched in reverb. With the soundscapes managing to draw us into a tranquil state, “Graphic Nature” turns around and erases that feeling with its dissonant guitar, frenetic drums, and its unsettled, restless vibe.
“Tempest” could be considered a sister track to “Leathers,” with the same quiet, unsuspecting intro before breaking out into another growling guitar riff. It’s another excellent moment on the record that treads the fine line between brooding and explosive, constantly keeping the listener guessing as to where the music will take them next. “Gauze” follows in the same mindset, with another wrecking ball of a riff from Carpenter on a song which carries itself with a nice, melodic chorus section.
Koi No Yokan‘s longest track is “Rosemary”, a dreamy (dare I say shoegazey) number with ragged guitar and bass that offer up serious shades of fellow California alt-metallers Tool. Leading the listener out with a soft electro/guitar outro, the soundscape morphs into “Goon Squad,” which offers up one last bit of grooving, heavy metal thunder for all to hear. It all ends on the dub-influenced, new-wavey ballad “What Happened To You?”. Moreno offers up another solid vocal performance on this one, with synthesizers and samples taking place of guitars to lead the listener out.
While it’s hard to say where Koi No Yokan will fit alongside essential Deftones albums of the past, its a good representation of a band who has matured and bettered themselves in the face of adversity. The record covers a wide range of feelings, dynamics, and emotions, and it shows listeners that heavy music can be beautiful.
Essential Tracks: “Swerve City,” “Leathers,” and “Tempest.”