Deftones
Saturday Night Wrist


4.5
superb

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
December 16th, 2006 | 2866 replies | 94,919 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Record of the Year. Unexpectedly.

White Pony was an important album for me. During my early adolescence, I was big into nu-metal and its most aggressive moments (think of the relevance to a middle school boy, antagonized in understanding girls, of "Elite"'s treatment of female fertility "When you're ripe, you'll bleed of control"). There was some appreciation for the beauty of the album, but it was mostly about puerile aggression and heaviness. Then, as i started playing guitar more, and definitely grew out of my need for heavy music, I craved music that had technical prowess. Some of Carpenter's guitar riffs took me by surprise and I was excited to hear that underneath the chugging there were really cool time changes and attacks. Most importantly I was taken aback by Chino's singing. I never realized how precise he was in his purposeful imprecision. He was completely level-headed at being insane. Also, his emotive lyrics and vocal presentation perfectly tied in with the Thrice/Thursday/Glassjaw scene I was getting into simultaneously. Then, at the end of high school, as I got more into electronica and hip hop, I started to recognize the relevance of Delgado in the construction of Deftones' atmosphere. Their most memorable songs are also their most atmospherically oppressive and powerful. "Digital Bath," "Knife Party," and "Change" are all defined by the ghostly samples in the background that perfectly matched Chino's vocals and the wonderful harmonic phrasing on those songs. White Pony is a classic. A 5/5. There are few, if any, blemishes, each song being memorable and powerful.

And we all know the self-titled Deftones did not live up to the standards that were set on White Pony. "Hexagram" was great, but felt like a rehashing of the aggression and angularity of "Elite." "Good Morning, Beautiful" had some, well, beautiful verses, but fell trap to its really meatheaded, hamhanded nu-metal sections as well. "Minerva" was great but a little tepid at its heights. Overall, it was a good album, but not great. I attribute a lot of the failings of this album to its consciousness of recreating the variety of White Pony. There was the token sampled song, "Lucky You," to match "Teenager" and "Digital Bath" and the typical metal songs "Hexagram" and "Needles and Pines" to match "Elite" and "Korea." I wanted to love the album, and I did for a while, but over time, it's fallen trap to its own replicative design. So I, and many other fans, are still unwittingly waiting for White Pony II.

So, how does Saturday Night Wrist fulfill the expectations set by White Pony? It doesn't, and that's why it succeeds. Excepting the miserable "Pink Cellphone" and the unimportant "Mein" and "Rapture," this album is flawless, and in ways I could have never predicted. First off, Deftones have moved away from just using heavy riffing for the sake of heaviness. Thick, meaty riffs do appear, but they are usually always accompanied by cool melodies or time signatures, such that one doesn't just enter a nu-metal section for the sake of itself, but enters a well-transitioned section that is wonderful within itself, but also serves the song as a whole. Secondly, Deftones aren't shy around major keys. Some of the best moments on this album come from the prettier, brighter moments, rather than the haunting, dark moments that were on White Pony (think of the great chorus of "Cherry Waves" and the cool major third gestures and end guitar on "Xerces" versus the screams of "Knife Party" or the repressed, suicidal tones of "Teenager"). Saturday Night Wrist marks a Deftones that isn't afraid of sounding triumphant, uplifting, or happy at times, which makes their more brutal and dark songs ("Rats! Rats! Rats!" and "Beware") all the more compelling. Thirdly, this album feels more expansive than White Pony. Tying in with White Pony's darkness and depression was the sense of claustrophobia I got from the whole album. Most of the songs feel doomed in one way or another and use a lot of repeating motifs to narrow the soundscape, giving the impression of the album closing in, rather than expanding. Saturday Night Wrist, makes me feel almost agoraphobic. There is a huge diversity of sounds being used here both in the instrumental tones, as well as the sampled tones. Would the metallophone percussion at the beginning of "U, U, D, D, L, R, L, R, A, B, Select, Start" have a place on any other Deftones album? Would the weird, transmission-sounding introduction to "Combat" be taken seriously if it prefaced "Knife Party?" Not at all. Here, the variety of sampled sounds is really diverse and suits the album. It's even, dare I say, fun?

This album truly succeeds in how it's different from White Pony, but it's also interesting to consider how it's similar. And really, the most notable element of this album that is similar are Chino's vocals. They are still the melodramatic, tortured fare from White Pony. As a vocalist, Chino is unpredictable. He'll leap between unusual intervals at whim, and often transitions singing to screaming in a nanosecond (think of the part on "Hexagram" where he sings "As the animals make their way through the crowd" and lets fucking loose on the word "crowd"). Chino also has a tendency to hit a falsetto note at just the right moment such that I literally shiver or tremble when he does so. It suited the haunting aspects of White Pony and have made "Digital Bath" and "Knife Party" two of my all-time favorite songs. Chino's singing, which I considered a top performance on White Pony has been matched here. He uses all of his typical tricks, which would seem stale in premise, but he pulls them off with conviction and emotion. The dull, turgid trill on the word "you" in the chorus on "Cherry Waves" echoes in my mind for hours after hearing that song. The near-falsetto on the chorus of "Hole in the Earth" slays me every time I hear it, especially because Chino's voice is mixed with a trebly quality at that moment, emphasizing the strain as he hits that high note. The ending of the bridge of "Combat" is one of the catchiest 3 vocal phrases I've ever heard in my life. "Rats! Rats! Rats!" may be the most effective screaming outburst since Daryl Palumbo's breakdown at the end of the song "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence," and when Chino erupts with the lyrics "Nothing / Nothing / Not one fucking thing" I am always on the edge of my seat, aching to do something physical or insane to match Chino's vocal power. All in all, Chino is masterful, and each song displays a different facet of his ability, except, I guess, the instrumental "U, U, D, D, L, R, L, R, A, B, Select, Start."

The rest of the band is great too. Carpenter's abilities with chunky riffs are apparent here. "Rats! Rats! Rats!" is simultaneously the most meatheaded song in the Deftones' repertoire, and also one of the most off kilter and angular, showing Carpenter has a lot of brains behind his aggressive brawn. His softer moments are awesome too. "Riviere" is made by Carpenter's performance. He has a really good feel for the instrument on that song and his attacks emote strongly, matching Chino's vocals. He ends the song and the album on a beautiful note with his downward guitar slide and stifled final strum, that is a fitting denouement for [i]Saturday Night Wrist[/]. Cheng's playing is also notably sweet on this album. The verses of "Cherry Waves" hit me out of no where. His lines are strikingly original and he undulates his lines in a way that perfectly suits the weird dissonances of the verses. Cunningham also has his moments. "Mein" has a sweet variety to the cymbal strikes that manages to salvage Serj Tankian's unfortunate guest appearance and propels the song. "Rats! Rats! Rats!" is an achievement in chopped up feels that Cunningham executes masterfully with his use of snare strikes and little fills that clean up the jutting transitions of the song. Delgado, too, exhibits technically here, yet in a non-traditional sense, as his samples, as I mentioned earlier, really define a lot of the tone this album takes on, producing a lot of cool, diverse samples that expand the soundscape of Saturday Night Wrist and render some of the more plodding moments (the section on "Beware" with the chirping of the frogs) really interesting and memorable. Overall, everybody brought their A-game, and it is pulsing out of nearly every moment of this album.

That is except for "Pink Cellphone." Here, there's a wack, botched lo-fi production, absurd vocals, painful repetition, and no value to the overall arc of the album. This is really a huge blemish right on the nose of Saturday Night Wrist, and I really question the reasons for it being here. I know Delgado and Chino both have amazing faculties with electronics and more trip hop-based material, so I really wonder who was behind this track. Other than that, the only other weak tracks, really are just subpar relative to the rest of the album. "Rapture" feels a little too meaty, and "Mein" is a little too monotonous, especially when Serj's washed out guest vocals enter, though both tracks definitely have their merits (see the gigantic breakdown in "Rapture"). Somehow they are just outperformed.

Saturday Night Wrist is Deftones' breakaway from their prior success. They have completely reworked their sound since Deftones and have recreated artistic success without replicating their best album. In addition, they gleaned all of the technical innovations that made White Pony so great like Chino's vocals, and applied them to their reformed aesthetic. This album, too, is a classic, minus the unfortunate production decisions in "Pink Cellphone" and the dragging moments I mentioned above. Now, a month or so out of its release, it is really sinking in for me as the genius album it is. If only the public weren't so beaten down from the underwhelming Deftones and expecting White Pony II, maybe they'd go out and help Saturday Night Wrist become the commercial success White Pony was as well.

Recommended Tracks: All of them minus the three mentioned, but especially "Hole in the Earth," "Cherry Waves," "Rats! Rats! Rats!," and "Combat."



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
December 17th 2006



7926 Comments


Wow, that's long.

I havent heard much off this so I cant comment on anything but the review, but, it's a really good one.

RunAmokRampant
December 17th 2006



228 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

With 'Pink Cellphone' I think there is a reason behind this. Deftones, I think, knew about the controversy that the song would have but have just gone "Fuck it, if everyone wants to listen to another White Pony, then they can dust off their old copy and listen to it again". I think it's a big middle fingered salute to the whole notion of expectation on a number of levels. Maybe my view is longwinded but the lyrics tend to my view when you think about it.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
December 17th 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I don't care if it's a statement or not. You can make a statement and still make a good song. They have not met both conditions here.

RunAmokRampant
December 17th 2006



228 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

But don't you think they know that Pink Cellphone is going to get a whole lot of 'skip button' treatment because of its apparent lack of 'goodness'? There is something keenly deliberate about it and how generally speaking not being a 'good' song but whatever, I skip it anyway.

Zesty Mordant
December 17th 2006



1196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

excellent review.

As a long-time Deftones fan as well, I wasn't expecting this to be very good when I heard "rapture" on their myspace. But I was proven wrong.
One thing I like about this album is that it flows really well (with the exception of "Pink Cellphone")

Neoteric
December 17th 2006



3243 Comments


Okay, I don't think I'll review this now :p

This is definitely record of the year.

Oddsen
December 17th 2006



1127 Comments


Wonderful review. I might look into buying this

Neoteric
December 17th 2006



3243 Comments


It's worth buying if you enjoy the Deftones.

Oddsen
December 17th 2006



1127 Comments


I don't like Nu-Metal or really any metal in general

But the Deftones seem like Nu-Metal at its best

Intransit
December 17th 2006



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

good work on the review, although I don't seem to enjoy this album nearly as much as others it seems. Regardless, the album is still pretty awesome.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
December 17th 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Dude, Oddsen, this isn't nu-metal. This is something entirely different. I highly recommend it.

\m/Pete\m/
December 17th 2006



26 Comments


White Pony is my least favorite Deftones album, but if SnW is better maybe i should check it out

DFelon204409
Emeritus
December 17th 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Wait, what is your favorite?

andy0
December 19th 2006



118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i wouldnt really say that deftones are a proper nu metal band- they do share links, theres no denying that but theres passion and depth to their songs unlike most nu-metal bands and they dont deal with the usual lyrics in nu metal ( you hurt me, i hate you) but if they are nu metal, then there the best nu metal band ever

DFelon204409
Emeritus
December 26th 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

By the way, the whole entire CD is being hosted on odeo.com as a feed but if you view
it as a cached site, then you can link to individual mp3s that are set up by a little add. I
uploaded a few, but if you want to hear more go here:

http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:ggvon6Q8JOIJ:[i][/i]odeo.com/channel/138419/
feed.xspf+holeintheearth.mp3&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1&client=safari

P.S. At that last part of the link where it says safari, type in your browser.This Message Edited On 12.26.06

Acey
December 26th 2006



2578 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

chan, here is dFelons review

DFelon204409
Emeritus
January 19th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Lol, syncratic you just paraphrased my review for your soundoff but it's all good.

Syncratic
January 19th 2007



756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Haha, I love it.

To be honest I never read this review, and it's a pure coincidence, but hey, it IS all good.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
January 19th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Great minds. Word.

Syncratic
January 19th 2007



756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Indeed, indeed.

Amazing review, though. Excellent writing, and I totally agree.

:thumb:



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