Deftones - Koi No Yokan
A now very considerable amount of time has passed since Deftones bassist Chi Cheng suffered his near-fatal car accident leaving him in a semi-conscious state. It's a period of time that could very much have ended the Sacramento quintet's legacy but Chi's tragic accident seemed to put the band back together after initially completely breaking it, sealing wounds while doing so, the remaining four members powered on solely by the strength in and hope for their friend and bandmate. These positive energies resulted in 2010's towering and incredible Diamond Eyes, the 'Tones' best album without doubt since 2000's classic White Pony and breathed a whole new life into what could've been lost. Koi No Yokan then, their seventh album, is a continuation of this brilliant plane that the band now steadily reside on but is altogether a different beast to its predecessor.
If one could say that the latter was a healthier and more assured take on their 2003 self-titled album then this could be viewed as the same for much-maligned 2006 album Saturday Night Wrist. That album allowed the more ethereal soundscapes of the band's work to take centre-stage and here that's what they do again but in a much more powerful, confident and varied manner.
That's not to say it isn't classic heavy Deftones either though, opener Swerve City is an instant classic and has a firm argument for the best album opener of the year, swooping in on Steph Carpenter's sledgehammer riff that sounds like it could've come from the band's early days, the track bounces unstoppably while decapitating all listeners. Frontman Chino Moreno has become one of the most interesting, unusual and admired modern vocalists and his vocal delivery here feels like some sort of strange but hypnotic middle-ground between Duran Duran and Jane's Addiction, basically this is how you start an album. Straight after though the band take us on our first musical journey of the record with Romantic Dreams that has sampler/keyboardist Frank Delgado's handprints all over it, its textures bleeding in and out, and bassist Sergio Vega's songwriting evidently having more of a prominent part in the creation of this album with a firm Quicksand-esque groove undercutting the song's foundation. These ideas are explored further in the organic blossoming Entombed and the flickering absorbing beautiful album end-note of What Happened To You?. Moreno's vocal performance is as eclectic and endearing as ever with his classic razor-tipped scream and huge breathy chorus mix on the euphoric imagery of Leathers rubbing shoulder to shoulder with his cool-as-fuck swagger all over Poltergeist and Carpenter brings the riffs both earth-shaking and consciousness-expanding, sometimes in the same song, as in the epic Rosemary. Debatably the star of the show here though is the ever-underrated Abe Cunningham, without doubt one of the best drummers modern music has and has had for a while, his expertly controlled bouncy and invigorating rhythms always propelling the tracks to new heights on a genuine sense of groove, all drummers listen to this record and take note.
Koi No Yokan takes the restored vitality and 'greatest hits' effect of Diamond Eyes and moves it a step further, pushing forward what the band can experimentally do with its sound. Where the latter was instant in its no-holds-barred fluidity sending you straight to the dance floor, this is a beautiful record full of ranging textures, colours and imagery that is to be absorbed over a considerable period of listens. Both records have strong elements and moments of each other but it feels as if the band have taken these two halves and given them their own spotlight on opposing records. Deftones are one of the best heavy bands around and this is another different and perfect example as to why that's the case.