Deftones, Diamond Eyes

It’s been awhile, Deftones. Four years since their last release, 2006’s Saturday Night Wrist, but more likely it’s been even longer for many. Visions of my late-90s flash through me when I hear this band, mainly because I don’t hear them any more. But that doesn’t comment on what kind of band the Deftones are or were, rather what’s happened to rock radio, and what kind of bands the band were forced to swim with in their beginnings. Always setting the Sacramento sextet apart was their self-honed sound, putting the first roots in the ground for the kind of heaviness and heavenly vocals which the discerning heavy rock fan now looks for. Deftones stay true to their style and prove their majesty in their 2010 release, Diamond Eyes.

This band has no formula, only feeling. Being in the game this long and on a major label, I’d expect less. The first riffs into the record grab by the neck and pin to the wall in more the ogre-stomping vein of newer metal trends like Suicide Silence–or for less metal-headed readers, the chart-exploding Mastodon. Not to worry, because they bring it back to radio-ready tones as they always have by wrangling down reverb- and echo-laden sounds from somewhere in the clouds once the monsters have said their piece. They don’t let go until halfway through the record, where the guitar parts become just as pretty as the vocals. All throughout, the lyrics and vocal style of Chino Moreno hypnotize and guide us upward while the other instruments set a harsher stage. An ever-present, low bassline is always steady and pronounced, letting space for uncaged guitars to come roaring back for the most hardcore seventh track of the album, Rocket Skates. The music manages to project looseness instead of tension at all times, showing how the band has been able to stay away from the strict and suffocating rules of a yet heavier music scene.

Respect is demanded for the Deftones, as they’ve steadily maintained an air of disconcern with image since the beginning, instead putting their energy into their releases and touring. Their 1997 CD–more probably cassette–Around the Fur brought them to like-minded listeners everywhere looking for down-to-Earth in the midst of an increasingly caricatured nu-metal scene. The band cared more for championing good music and human approachability, a set of values still present on Diamond Eyes.

I’ve rocked out pretty hard already to this record, but more importantly I’ve seen everyone else doing the same. Fans of independent music, mainstream music, brutal metal, and slow, introspective rock are all rhythmically nodding heads in agreement again for the Deftones in a much warranted achievement for 2010. This is the Deftones’ most beautiful record yet; fraught with energy, blasting power, and grace. It’s no wonder the band still has such a diverse and dedicated fanbase.

SKOPE out the new record Diamond Eyes in stores everywhere, or preview the first and seventh tracks, ‘Diamond Eyes’ and ‘Rocket Skates’ for yourself on their myspace, I’m just excited to have some more quality ‘heaven metal’ to listen to. Don’t make us wait so long next time, Deftones.

By: Sean Flynn

[Rating: 4/5]

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