Quick disclaimer at the start of this: while these reviews do look on the music objectively a lot of the time, I also think it is a nice touch to put some subjectivity in there too, which is reflected in the ratings. Keep in mind that they are purely my opinions, I’m not saying the general masses are going to feel the same as me. With that said, I still might catch hell for this one…
I’ve never gotten into Deftones. I checked them out back in my formative years when I was first getting into this sort of music and they did absolutely nothing for me. That being said, the hype surrounding their new album that came out last week, Ohms, was massive and hard to ignore. Because of these points, and the fact that I haven’t reviewed a new album for a few weeks now, I thought I’d give it a listen to see if it changed my opinion on them and let you guys know either way. Well, here we go!
This album started out great. An atmospheric soundscape intro to start before going straight out of the gate with a huge, sludgy, heavy riff. Chino immediately comes in with the harsh vocals too and it sounds awesome, blasting right into the huge sound. Unfortunately, this song is the high point of the album, for
me. Two minutes into the song and it was starting to get a little samey to me, sticking around the same sludgy riff and alternating between harsh and slightly cleaner vocals. But there wasn’t much of a transition between the verses and chorus, or at least not something that’s all that noticeable. They just blend together as one long part, and when they’re this similar, it really kind of hurts the song. I loved the sound and the heaviness, but they could have done with changing it up a bit.
Next up is ceremony. This song had a slightly more indie feel to it, almost, with Chino’s clean vocals over the lighter guitar. It was nice and sounded great, but yet again, it felt like it went on quite a while
without any sort of significant change or difference. Knowing the band came up around a similar sort of time as Tool, they are of course an obvious comparison. However, for me a closer band to compare to that sprung to mind during this song was Radiohead. Of course, Deftones are heavier, but they are both bands that really push to squeeze every last drop out of a single riff or chord progression or verse, for better or worse. It’s definitely a formula that works for a lot of people, but I am unfortunately not one of
them. As anyone who knows me can attest, I hate Radiohead. This song wasn’t bad, but I preferred the opening track solely because of the more memorable riff.
Urantia opens heavy with maybe my favourite part of the album, exploding out of the gate with massive, quick drums and low, chugging guitars. It sounds great and got me massively hyped for the rest of the song… and then it almost immediately drops down into a slow, quiet verse again. The chugging is still there and sounds awesome, but it’s just not the same as if this song continued to be loud and heavy and thrashy and in your face. We’re three songs in and I’m already getting sick of being let down by this album. I feel like this is a good a time as any to mention the absolutely stellar mixing and production on this album, though. Having to google who it was and of course it was Terry Date, that guy has done amazing things with Slipknot before and has done amazing things with Deftones now too. His mixing and
production is by far the most consistent thing on the album (besides the boringness, that is!)
It was around about the fourth track, Error, that I realised I couldn’t do this review like the others I’ve done. I’m just over a third of the way through the album and I realise I’ve said a lot of what I want to say already. The criticisms and praises I have given to the last three songs are almost identical to the ones I’d
give the rest of the album (trust me, I’ve already listened to all of it through at this point). Because of this I’m going to mix things up a bit and make this review a little shorter. Instead of saying similar things about each song chronology, I’m just going to mention any key talking points I found throughout the rest of the album. Hope everyone’s cool with that? Either way you don’t have a choice, I’m doing it, so let’s do this.
My first little point, has Chinos clean vocals always sounded like Billy Corgan’s? Or is it just me? Not an issue either way, I just can’t remember hearing the easy comparison last time I’d heard them. However, it was annoyingly one of those moments where as soon as you hear it, you can’t un-hear it, no matter how hard you try. It got really distracting at times!
One of the great little nuances about this album was the band immediately starting The Spell of Mathematics while the reverb at the end of Error still rang. Its a subtle and small thing, but not enough bands bleed one song into the next on their albums any more, which is a real shame as it really makes the album feel like it is one complete entity to be listened to as full. I know that generally, due to streaming and things, that isn’t generally how the masses consume music these days, but it always sounds SO good when bands do little things like this to keep you listening in order.
Songs like Radiant City and This Link is Dead have some great opening verses, either heavy bass and chugging guitars and Chinos great distorted harsh vocals. However, these two songs in particular are where another major issue in this album lies, for me. The chorus’s are weak as heck. I know that generally in more concepty, proggy bands the chorus, don’t have to be huge catchy things for crowds at stadiums to sing back to them, but with this album especially the chorus’ have no substance to them at all, there
is nothing separating them from the verses, aside the fact that they have repeating lyrics every time. Its just yet another thing not memorable about this album, another reason why I have no desire to hear these songs again. I know some people will cry foul at me for wanting something radio friendly and catchy and tell me that’s how Deftones does things, and that’s fine if they like that sort of thing, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for ANYTHING to pique my interest at all, anything that gets stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Heck, the album had two singles, Genesis and Ohms, and I can’t remember a single thing about either of them a day later.
Right, I think I’ve said about everything in my notes that I wanted to say. Anyone still here? And out of those people, do any of you actually agree with me, or all want my head? Either way, I feel it best to conclude this wonderful little review…
There are definitely some positives to the album. There are some great guitar riffs somewhat hidden throughout the album and some absolutely awesome drum lines. Chino’s harsh vocals are spot on, even if his cleans felt a little hit and miss with me. And the production was out of this world, maybe the best mixing I’ve heard since Alter Bridges ‘Last Hero’ However, none of the songs seemed to go anywhere for me, they picked a riff and just played around it for 4 minutes before moving onto the next one for
the next song. There was very little along the lines of dynamics or changing of pacing or feeling, it all felt incredibly samey. Reading other people’s opinions of the album it doesn’t sound like their best, so if anyone here wants me to listen to one of their other more widely praised albums I will do so gladly. I do want to like this band; they are all talented guys and clearly good at creating atmosphere. They just bored the crap out of me with this one.
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This review was written by Joe Griffiths.
Besides being a Journalist, with a passion for music and being a musician himself. When he has free time, he also attends music events himself. Joe is also an author and you can check out his page, here at this link