Review Summary: Timeless, limitless, an unbound exercise in musical performance.
I could curse myself every hour of every day from here to eternity for not discovering the Deftones sooner. This past half-year or so opened me up to a whole new way of looking at music, through this band and their body of work. The dissonant guitar passages of Stephen Carpenter switch seamlessly between heavy and soft, creating a massive foundation of sound on which to build. Chi Cheng's fuzzy bass lines and Abe Cunningham's terrifyingly wonderful beats are more than a rhythm section, but an all new facet to focus on in the mix. Rounding out the ensemble are Frank Delgado's eerily cool samples and Chino Moreno's vocal work, able to conform and shape itself to any style and mood imaginable. With this group of musicians, ignorance is your own personal loss, as the music made by this group is, to be blunt, incredible.
The group's shining, crowning achievement, their magnum opus, is 2000's White Pony
. Every moment recorded on this album is pure ecstasy, seeping with emotion amid chaos. The musicianship is sublime, every member exuding energy into his performance, while Chino's voice provides the final piece to this perfect puzzle. The music hits tremendous peaks, with a wailing voice and echoing guitar, to great lows, with soft drums and subdued ambience. Everything comes together in the end to create a sound that is as ethereal as it is crushing.
The first taste of White Pony
is one that keeps the listener hooked and coming back for even more. Feiticiera
bursts forth with a guitar furious. An all-too crazy drumbeat from Abe introduces Chino for the first time, and his drawl sets a mood and contrast that is so inviting to the ear. Cymbal splashes litter the verses, the bass underlying to comfort the guitar. The whole mess slows down a bit, allowing the vocals to lament for a quick second. A return to the fury ensues, a driving passage. A background vocal appears, along with a change in music, and a perfect moment has been created to see the track off, the echoing fuzz of strings filling in the role of a friend waving goodbye.
What follows is sonic bliss. Digital Bath
is too good for any human description. It is nearly too good for its own existence, for every listen of it is a holy privilege. An eternal synth line coupled with a truly amazing beat make for the most haunting of moments. Chino and Stephen appear on a cue, showing sweet restraint with barely-there guitar and soft-sung lyrics. As if to solidify the feel of the moment, the chorus hits and condensed passion is let loose. The guitar is let to decay, while Chino uses his voice to steer the song. The melancholic verse returns, yet something more seems to be happening. Once again, the chorus provides a complement to the verse, yet the vocals soar without bounds or limitations, adding an almost epic facet to the mix. A beautiful interlude pops out of nowhere, featuring a layer of ambient rambling and a guitar line touches the soul, the vocals both calming down and building to something even more incredible. A screech brings about the rest of the band to the chorus, where Chino gives an incredible performance. A driving riff from Stephen allows for more sweet, sweet chaos to occur. It seems to never end, and the listener never wants it to end. It does, however. The listener is not the same after listening to the song. They are...something more.
The album is far from over at this venture. Song after song of exemplary, exquisite performances fulfill the listener's every musical need. Korea
features an out-of-control, near-industrial guitar line that is only kept in check by Chino's effect-laden vocals. Guttural roars line the chorus, and it's evident that there no turning back now. The low-bop feel of Rx Queen
sports a catchy bass line and lyrics more reminiscent of a love song than any other on the album. The entire song is a vehicle for Chino to give one hell of a performance. A chorus cry of Cause you're my girl/and that's all right/if you sting me/I won’t mind
is eerie, yet striking in the same instance. The mood of the album slows down considerably with the unsettling acoustic ballad Teenager
. A simple guitar riff is bolstered by ambience and a neat little processed beat, and Chino's vocals, soft yet powerful. Almost as soon as it begins it fades, that drum beat gets a little more complicated, and more fantastic in the same sense.
You thought all of that was great? The best hasn't even come. Most albums have that centerpiece, the song that makes the album what it is, the definition of the album and it's strengths. This album has two of them, and they’re unique in their own rights as to what they represent about the album.
The first is Knife Party
. To say that this song is good is a damn insult. This song is a masterpiece in every definition conceivable of the word. An effect-laden riff echoes throughout past and present, finally exploding into a universal void, returning to accrue Chino's vocals, setting themselves against a fury of distortion that can lull one into a daze. A chorus yields one of the most epic guitar-versus-drum battles in all of music. Soaring guest vocals introduce the next verse, which never lets up in terms of energy. Another chorus, and all is silent. With the pluck of a guitar chord, something beyond all comprehension occurs. That guest vocalist returns, and truly annihilates any previous concept of music. The drums go insane and the guitar is now a waterfall of distorted rhythms. The vocals soar to heights unreachable...these are the most beautiful vocals in all of music, to aid in the most awe-inspiring passage of music that I've ever beheld. Chino reaffirms the listeners feelings, with a cry of I could float here forever
. The listener is grounded with a return to the chorus, with even more power than before thought possible. The song ends the only way it could ever, by fading into a blackness unknown.
The second portion of the centerpiece is Passenger
. The song compromises on nothing whatsoever. Fading in, an attack of instrumentation welcomes the listener, menacing beats and striking guitar everywhere to be found. The track also features dual vocals, the guest being a man known to many in the Sputnik community, Maynard James Keenan of Tool
and A Perfect Circle
. Both he and Chino trade off lines of lyrics storytelling, matching one another in power and attention in the listener's perception, in perfect sync at all times. Maynard receives his own reprieve, a hole filled with drums and the echoing of electronic mumbling, acting as a bridge to his fierce chorus. Evoking images of freedom, love, or anything you'd like to imagine, this is a fantastic moment for the album. A slowdown for Chino to lament is next, as is another driving chorus that allows for an exquisite performance from Maynard. A guitar-led attack of a bridge ensues, but the listener is calmed by a soft instrumental passage. The lyrics that introduced the song reappear, if a little altered, to further the mood created by this passage. A purely instrumental chorus takes one off-guard, only to end as the track does, in the midst of keyboards that fade far away.
How could one ever possibly forget Pink Maggit
? This song has had me question myself, my sanity, my everything. That is the power of this song. Is it one of triumph? One of tragedy? One of loss, one of hope? I do not know, but damn do I wish I did. A mellow lamentation of an intro quickly fades out...into a cavalcade of distorted beauty. The chords churn over, and over, and over. Any sense of needless repetition has been dismantled as Chino's lyrics take over the listener. Every second is a peak to be beheld. Even as everything winds down, the listener is left with the oddest of feelings, that anything is possible, yet all is hopeless. Any song that can possibly make me feel that way is one of the best to be heard, and is undoubtedly the perfect album closer, encapsulating every possible feeling conveyed over the last hour contained in epic grandeur.
is one of those albums you need to experience for yourself. Don't let the review act for you, as it needs to be personally felt and heard to truly be understood. The music hits all the right places, and if the mood is proper, could create a feeling of pure euphoria. These are not simply songs, they are a representations of emotion that can be felt and shared by anyone. If a little overbearing at times, the music, along with Chino's exceptional vocal work and the band's overall songwriting sense, is capable of putting me, and hopefully others, into states that are indescribable. What state will it put you in?
"Digital Bath," "Passenger," "Knife Party"
The musicianship is a notch above top-notch. It's possible
Chino Moreno's vocals complement and create many a mood
The music may take a while for some to get used to