Release date: November 12, 2012
Deftones is a band that will forever be chasing its own tail. Having created its seminal album, and perhaps the best metal album of that decade, “White Pony” in 2000, everything since has been measured against it. The follow-up self-titled release was no match, but “Saturday Night Wrist” (2006) showed promise. In 2010, the band dropped the brilliant “Diamond Eyes” which brings us to “Koi No Yokan“, which frontman Chino Moreno hails as a return to the “White Pony” signature. The album title means “premonition of love”.
The first thought that comes to mind when tuning up the newest Deftones offering is, restraint. The band’s trademark aggression still exists, but here it is contained. Typically tagged as an alternative metal band, much of the record is awash in swaying atmospheres that pull the band into “shoegaze” territory. While Moreno places it alongside “White Pony“, there isn’t much here to argue his point. The album, rather than leaving one breathless, is rather lifeless…comparatively speaking. Still, it is Deftones!
“Koi No Yokan” finds the band swimming in more mature waters than previous efforts, building a muted tapestry that is at the same time lush yet understated. In fact, the entire album, from the moment the band grooves into “Swerve City”, ebbs and flows with contradictions. Peaks and valleys that excite then lull and find Moreno in a veritable rope-a-dope with guitarist Stephen Carpenter: Moreno’s screaming howls the misleading left hook set-up for the devastating undercut of his clean vocals. Carpenter knows the dance though and offers up his own rib cracking riffage, keeping Moreno back on his heals. “Poltergeist” is a perfect example of this round by round battle.
Moreno has penned some of his more inspired lyrical tableaus on “Koi No Yokan“, and they swirl with a flourish within the album’s soaring moments.
The first single, “Leathers” begins with a broody ambiance before offering up a heavy dose of bombast and soaring vocals. Moreno sounds as if he is pursuing his own soul on this song. On the second single, “Tempest” the band inches into a groove which Jerry Cantrell could appreciate.
There are some real standout tracks on this record that remind the listener how impressive the band can be. The stunning, “Rosemary” is one of those tracks, and the album’s longest to boot. Sonic eloquence meets progressive ethos on this beautifully layered gem. “Entombed” is another of the album’s lingering moments of scintillating aural elegance.
Deftones once again turned to Nick Raskulinecz (Rush, Stone Sour, Evanescence, Trivium) to produce its seventh studio offering. As usual, Nick did a dynamic job.
With all the glowing accolades it still feels as if something is missing here, and perhaps that is the weight of expectation bearing down. Compared to “White Pony” (as Moreno does) or “Diamond Eyes” (as many will) one is left ask as the final song does, “What Happened To You?” And that may be an unfair question. Which brings us back to the start: The band chases its tail here, never quite catching it. Deftones have made a decent album far superior to much of the drudgery out there, but it pales against its own, at times genius, work. That said, this album is also not a love at first listen affair. To truly appreciate “Koi No Yokan” one will have to give it time to settle in.