Art metal is brought to an all time high with every Deftones release. The alternative metal outfit have released their highly-anticipated follow up to 2012′s Koi No Yokan in the form of Gore, an new exploration of melody and riffs that are new for the band whilst still giving out what they are best at: beautiful pieces just excreting passion and tension.
As Deftones are one of my favorite bands, it’s only right to do a track-by-track review for this one.
1) Prayers/Triangles - I’ve actually already reviewed this song, but the context of it’s opening position on the album gives it a new punch. It’s feedback intro and light drum beat enters the album on an eerie note, before Chino Moreno’s flowing melody soars over a punchy bass track and dreamy guitar work. The tension in his voice adds to the chorus’ relentless bout of emotion, crying, “Prayers, lay it on the line / You will never be free… / Triangles, placed in your mind / You will never be free,” leading to an outburst of anger of the bridge which is reprised in the outro. A standout track and a fantastic opener to a thrilling album. 9.5/10
2) Acid Hologram - The first taste of brand new music for those who have been following the singles, ‘Acid Hologram’ can be confusing. Moreno’s almost dreamy melodies and harmonies soar over thick guitar. Something with this track just doesn’t sit me with my initial listens... While it is a somewhat of a signature with Deftones music to pit clean and heavy together, it just doesn’t seem to work with the heavy distortion and the soaring vocals. Isolate either or, and they are both fantastic performances. The song definitely takes some growing, and as of right now, it’s still in that phase. 8/10
3) Doomed User - Back to familiar territory for fans; ‘Doomed User’ is heavy. It has a big heavy metal, Alice In Chains vibe, especially the choruses. Stephen Carpenter’s triumphant guitar licks elevate the song to a massive level, as Chino roars over the choruses and brings it back during the chorus for a slight reprieve. It doesn’t last long, as this song’s constantly chugging big riffs and headbang moments that just ask to be jammed to. It’s easy to forget the lyrics to the song, which do have some tasty moments. Particularly the bridge’s, “Go waste your breath somewhere to someone new / Your castle’s burning down, here / Your kingdom is burning down,” grabbed my attention. This song has a lot going on, and that also means it a lot going for it. 9/10
4) Geometric Headdress - The guitar in this song is just awesome. Carpenter’s finest moment on the album is on ‘Geometric Headdress’, the guitar just adding such a mysterious and urgent feel to the song that makes the backing synths sound massive. Chino sings beautifully in the chorus while Abe Cunningham delivers a badass performance on the drums - another highlight of the track. There’s not really any clear statement that can be said to define the intensity this track has. It’s just huge. 10/10
5) Hearts/Wires - Beginning creepily, like a more bluesy and ambient reprise of the eeriness of the intro to ‘Prayers/Triangles’, the track begins softly with atmosphere and beautiful guitar. When the body of the song comes in, it just feels beautiful, like a whole different beast has entered the game. Like the softer tracks on 2010′s Diamond Eyes, Chino shows off his quieter range delivering hypnotizing verses and an intense, emotional chorus. This song doesn’t disappoint on any front. It’s beautiful intro is followed by a beautifully composed instrumental that brings Chino’s melodies to a whole new wavelength. The intensity of the choruses scream back to the aforementioned album’s title track (which also just so happens to be my personal favorite Deftones song) and I just fell in love with those one as I heard it. There’s no more to it than a brilliant sense of elation and yet, a sadness this song has. 10/10
6) Pittura Infamante - Triumphant guitar chords bring this song to a huge start, with Cunningham delivering another brilliant performance on percussion. continuing with the tantalizing melodies from the previous track, ‘Pitture Infamante’ has a wonderful chorus melody that’s so enchanting, you almost miss how epic the chorus sounds as a whole, the chugging guitars and bass driving the song like an engine at full roar. The guitar feels like it was inspired by Porcupine Tree - that’s the first thought I had, hearing the intro. The bridge sounds epic and grand, Chino’s lyrics showing sensuality while also taking over a thrilling sense of imagery: “I’ve sank through the cracks / I’ve drowned every one / To bathe in your soul,” on top of purely electric guitar riffs. The song’s outro is pure intensity and brings it to a thrilling conclusion. 9.5/10
7) Xenon - This one is... weird. The electronic transition from ‘Pittura’ halts abruptly, before a disjointed guitar riff comes in, attempting to mesh with one another and just creates a cluster. The chorus comes in promising with the cool lines, “With the lions at the gate / With a diamond in your brain,” but then takes an optimistic sounding melody that melodically works pleasingly with the guitar, but feels out of place before you can accept it. You can tell the type of sound the band was going for here: big and anthemic, but ‘Xenon’ just didn’t get executed the proper way. It has some epic moments, like the crushing drums in the outro, but altogether it just feels like it was slapped together for the sake of it. 7/10
8) (L)MIRL - Another creepy intro to lead the album into its final quarter. This one washes over you with a wave of effected guitar, before a Tool-esque bassline from Sergio Vega and a sweet guitar line dance with each other. The prechorus in the second verse has the same big sounding idea that they tried to capture in ‘Xenon’, but executed properly this time, the song’s flow not being interrupted. It does take you out of it for a second just in the same way that the prior track did, but the recovery period is much swifter. This track, like ‘Pittura Infamante’ has a big progressive rock presence. As to be expected from Deftones, the bridge is massive, and seems to use the same formula of heavy section with razor lyrics like ‘Prayers/Triangles’ and reprises it to end the track. No complaints, it sounds huge! 8.5/10
9) Gore - This one’s a surprising track. Of anything the title track of this record could’ve sounded like, this isn’t what I’d have thought. Chino’s credited with saying this was his least favorite track on the record, but I can’t see how - it’s classic Deftones material. A picked bass chugs quickly on top of a syncopated hi-hat before a crushing chorus comes in to bring groove and metal together. I can just picture Chino moving to this one onstage. It’s epic and driven, just what you need from Deftones. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. The screaming at the end sounds like it came straight from the Adrenaline and Around The Fur days. The ending is tense and concludes with a horrifying shriek, that I want to say is a scream, but honestly don’t want to question. It’s a thriller. 9/10
10) Phantom Bride - The Alice In Chains influence on this record reaches a peak, especially considering this song features the lead guitarist from the band, Jerry Cantrell. Despite the massive guitar presence this song seems to have given its featured collaborator, it’s Chino that really shines on this song. His vocal delivery and falsetto on this song just add a beautiful juxtaposition to the muted guitar in the verses and the electrifying Cantrell solo that makes its way to the bridge of the song. The final chorus explodes with a brilliant light, the powerful guitars and sweet melody leading into a guitar reprieve, which brings the song to an even more intense conclusion. The sheer intensity of the heavy outro is a thrill in and of itself. 10/10
11) Rubicon - Rubicon: a point of no return. That’s exactly what this song is. It burns with a conviction to end this album on an unforgettable note. Deftones bring their all on this track, combining everything you’d want into this one thrilling conclusion. Deeply tuned guitars contrasting a shriller, higher line, a driving drum performance, and Chino’s growls and belts. The song is brilliant and extreme, its conclusion threatening and unrelenting, as if building to what ever is in store next. And after this record, I’m not sure I’m ready for what’s next. 9.5/10
Gore is an experience best taken in as a whole. Each track has an intensity and unchallenged presence that separately makes each a monster, but cohesively makes an absolute beast of an album. Deftones have outdone themselves and crafted an album beautiful yet thrilling and exciting, forming a collection that will be hard to follow up. Gore is a thriller, a challenge that can’t be beaten. All I can say now? Wow.
Favorite Tracks: Heart/Wires, Phantom Bride, Geometric Headdress
Least Favorite Track: Xenon