Review Summary: Diamond Eyes is everything that a listener would dare hope it would be.
The term sell-out is thrown around alot in music nowadays, often within good reason, but almost just as often not. Music purists often label bands they hold in high regard with said term in conjunction with a change in musical direction, often toward a worse, more mainstream orientation. To many a fan's delight, Deftones have never been a band to even hint at such a directional change. Since Maverick records released the band's raw and brutal debut, Adrenaline, the Deftones have been one of the few bands in modern contemporary music to have never disappointed their audience. Six records into their ever-so-strong career (not counting unreleased mystery album, Eros), and with the tragic (but hopefully temporary) departure of bassist Chi Cheng up their sleeve, Deftones have once again reinforced their solid steel reputation, and have released another genuine, unique and musically stunning record.
Put simply, Diamond Eyes is everything that a listener would dare hope it would be. While the subtle and melodic Saturday Night Wrist hinted at a possible stylistic upheaval, Diamond Eyes shrugs away any worries and unravels with both beauty and brutality to remind the listener that they are still cruising along at their peak with a newly-oiled engine and a tank full of fuel. Yet without a possibily of a future downfall, the record gives the listener a feeling that the Deftones have come full circle, encompassing absolutely every single musical element that they have drawn from their belts throughout such a stunning career.
To begin with, the Deftones take on the radio with recent single and title track, Diamond Eyes, which churns along with a verse riff reminiscent of the band's second single, "Bored", and with a transcendent, soaring vocal melody that carries the song like the wind through the cool-night sky. What is possibly one of Chino Moreno's finest vocal performances of his career is also a tremendous introduction to the record that follows, combining both melodic divinity and aggressive brutality into an absolute Deftones classic. What follow's are among the heaviest songs of the album, mostly recalling "Around the Fur" era Deftones, a welcome sight for fans hungry for more crunching Alt Metal aggressiveness. "Royal" presents to us some of Moreno's finest screams, along with Stephen Carpenter's balls-out riffage, into an utterly electrifying track and one of the finest of the album."CMND/CTRL continues the trend with Moreno's distinctive off-key screaming and heavy instrumentation, whilst Synth-man Frank Delgado shines more than ever here, placing his ambient touches within the short, soft melodic passages between the grinding guitar and pounding drums that only increase the intensity for the better.
Some tracks will not reveal themselves to you immediately ("Butcher"), while others come straight out at you and in your face ("Rocket Skates"). Regardless, by the end of your forth listen, each track will have unravelled with every inch of brilliance that the listener would have come to expect from the band. Deftones once again practice their melodic chops on Saturday Night Wrist-esque "Sextape", and exercise their sonic gigantry with the epics "Prince" and "Risk", in ways that Deftones fans could only ever hope for.
Chino Moreno once said himself that he's "never been one to complain" when it comes to lyrics, referring to the self-loathing and emotionally-oriented lyrical content that has occupied a great deal of music from throughout the past two decades. Moreno once again continues this unique style of lyricism, revelling in both dark and beautiful imagery from a second-person perspective that often has little to no relevance to their personal lives, or the lives of those around them. In addition, guitarist Stephen Carpenter really shows his seven-stringed, Meshuggah-influenced fury more than ever, but is never afraid to embrace a melodic style to make way for Moreno's angelic vocals and Frank Delgado's ambient touches. Clearly, the album is by no means a product of any single member, but a collective effort in which every member gets an opportunity to shine. Temporary bassist Sergio Vega fills in admirably, and contributes most notably in tracks such as "Prince" and "Beauty School". Drummer Abe Cunningham once again, never ceases to impress, remaining right up there with the likes of Jimmy Chamberlin of Smashing Pumpkins fame. His drumming is solid throughout the album, and shines more than ever in first single "Rocket Skates", one wonders what the track would be without his incredible stylistic input.
One might wonder to themselves, how long will it be before the Deftones release their inevitable "bad" record? Given their track record, it's hard to see them succumbing to the temptations of selling out like many other bands before them. The way they are going, and with the demonstration that after so many years and hardships they can still produce a fantastic record, equal parts beauty and brutality, the concept of the Deftones downfall looks utterly dim. So all this said, Diamond Eyes is yet another incredible record from the Deftones, and from a listener's point of view, stacks up rather admirably against masterpieces White Pony and Around the Fur.