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Album Reviews

Album Review: Deftones – Ohms

 

 

Release Date: 25/09/2020

Record Label: Reprise Records

For Fans Of: Failure, Crosses, 

 

There are time honoured traditions of change within Deftones. Over their 25 year career, they’ve been a constant, natural force that ebbs and flows, pushing and pulling to opposite extremes and expanding on the ways in which music can make you feel. Like some of their outstanding 90s contemporaries in Tool, Radiohead and The Smashing Pumpkins, Deftones are aliens and their specific brand has been mastering the disorder of life 

Throughout their time as a band, Deftones have been known for the notion that they’re pulling apart in opposite directions. This lives in the creative differences between Chino Moreno and Stephen Carpenter, the light and shade in the vocals, the way that beauty meets dark intensity and their dedication to pushing themselves further than before. Every time they write an album, it feels like there’s something unique and time bound in the air, defining each era of the band as temporary and exciting. Ohms has its own story and it defines the record wholly. 

There’s a certain restoration of forces with Deftones on Ohms. While their last record Gore marked another chapter in the differing songwriting approaches of Chino and Steph – and saw Chino take on most of the writing – this record features a balance between the two and harks back to many records within the band’s back catalogue. Similarly, old traditions are brought forward again as the band employ the help of legendary producer Terry Date who worked on their first four records. What this all leads to is an album that expands on the different eras of the band’s career and pushes their boundaries one step further. Fans of Deftones will feel at home with Ohms, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be challenged and excited. 

Immediately on Ohms you’re thrown into a sense of ease in the comfortable and trustworthy hands of Deftones. Opener ‘Genesis’ begins with the synths of Frank Delgado before being cut through by the incredible guitar tone of Steph and the rapidly changing screams to ethereal vocals of Chino. It’s a staple Deftones song full of push and pull but it builds and excites, setting the standard only maintained or bettered throughout the course of the album. It expands on the band’s sound and see’s Chino lyrically maneuver from his dour lyricsm with the slyly uplifting, ‘I finally achieve balance, approaching a delayed rebirth’.

Genesis may be a slightly on the nose titling for the first track but it opens up a beginning half of Ohms which masterfully plays with dynamics and the natural divergence of the band. Then comes the contrasting one-two of dreamy and hypnotic ‘Ceremony’ into the powered metallic banger ‘Urantia’ where both songs contrast their initial nature and change. This is a theme perfected by the midpoint of the album in ‘Pompeji’, a track that both morphs in itself and sets up the second half of the album to be a heavyweight stomper.

While leading the album into heavier, more traditional territory, ‘Pompeji’ uses sampling to give it a cinematic, almost Radiohead style grandiosity, which the band expand on throughout the remainder of the record. ‘The Link is Dead’ might be the heaviest Deftones have sounded in over 15 years, with Chino roaring with throat shredding velocity whilst the band still manage to conjure up large images around him. 

The following songs of ‘Radiant City’ and ‘Headless’ build towards the imposing final track of the album; they’re both classically Deftones but each land on different ends of the spectrum showcasing what the band do so well. The former is lurching and mean while the latter is more reserved and slightly shoegaze-y. Realistically, you shouldn’t be too surprised once final track ‘Ohms’ begins, but the band pull out one breathtaking, atmospheric, final song as they bring the album to a close. While Ohms may not add any directly new ideas to the Deftones catalogue, it shows the band building on what made them fantastic. It’s not a million miles from any of the wide-varied albums that they’ve produced and is reminiscent of all of them, with the guitar work of Steph Carpenter being the fire to both warm the hearts of old fans and ignite something in newcomers. He’s on his finest form and has written riffs that define their songs, whether that be the firing gun sound on ‘Urantia’, the chug of ‘Error’ or the ferocity of ‘The Link is Dead’.

The coming together of major forces has bred something special in Ohms, and it takes a well-worthy spot alongside its predecessors. Once again we’ve placed our trust in this Sacramento five piece and like always they’ve provided emotion, class and dynamism. In Deftones, we’ll forever trust.

 

Rating: 8/10

Recommended Track: The Link is Dead, Ohms

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