REVIEW: DEFTONES – DIAMOND EYES (2010)
Trauma has a peculiar way of turning up at the worst moments. Scotland Yard Gospel Choir underwent a horrific traffic accident that led Elia Einhorn into a neck brace to heal an injured spine…not mentioning the rest of the band that folioed Elia and rolled over five times. Or in the Deftone‘s case, Chi Cheng becoming seriously injured in a November 2008 car accident and being in a coma ever since. Yet even while placing Saturday Night Wrist‘s follow-up, Eros, on indefinite hiatus, the best always finds itself out of the ashes of tragedy.
In the same vein as the masterpieces Domestica, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and most recently For Emma, Forever Ago, the Deftones have created a stunner worthy of being labeled an ‘album’ with Diamond Eyes. Maybe it is due to the lack of definitive hard rock that incorporates orchestral complexity since A Perfect Circle went on hiatus. Regardless “Beauty School” beckons to mind “Digital Bath” and its utter disregard for keeping heaviness on one side of the tracks, and slow symphonic choruses “I watch you taste it. I see your face. And I know I’m alive” layered on the other.
Diamond Eyes tones down the industrial element, which clearly re-emphasizes Abe Cunningham’s drumming. “You’ve Seen the Butcher” staggers with under-appreciated snare rhythms undiluted and never overwhelmed by cymbals. Chino Moreno’s guitars in rare form consistently represent the leadened sound, as on “Risk.” For those unaccustomed, it is Chino’s hypnotic vocal delivery and lack of embellished guitar solos that generate the concrete barrier that bears down on the listener.
Epic is not a common descriptor associated with Deftones, though “976-EVIL” edges the closest to such an adjective. Never akin to the unabashed, exaggerated Coheed & Cambria epic, “976-EVIL” lets the weight balance itself with short, breathing reprieves. Strangely, “Rocket Skates” is the track that stands out the most. It’s eccentric in the punk guitarwork building into the raging chorus, gearing for simplicity and speed than sonic volume. (The iTunes bonus “Caress” is most comparable.)
Admittedly Saturday Night Wrist was forgettable. It pounds away so consistently that it just wears down like tread on a tire. Eventually it had to be replaced. Diamond Eyes is that newly minted wheel with enough grip to drag you along…not for a single song, but it convinces you to listen to the entire work. It has been a long time since an album has done that to me so frequently. Let alone from metal.