Whether it should or not, any Deftones album since White Pony
will be compared to, and often considered inferior to it. Whether I agree to it or not is irrelevant, because it will
happen. With this in mind, I am here to say that Deftones have produced an album that is just as good as, if not, better than the aforementioned and definitive album that everyone holds so dear to their hearts.
Saturday Night Wrist
has a very diverse, yet fluid presentation. There are twelve songs, each with its own sound, subtleties, and identity. Instrumentally speaking, there are many moments where everything is more complicated than previous work. As complicated as it may be, everything remains consistent through the album. Everyone knows their role and sticks to it. The guitar riffs seem to rely on creating a wall of sound a bit less, unlike their earlier work. That isn’t to say that they don’t, but rather that there is more experimentation. Besides Chino’s vocals, the Abe’s drumming seems to stand out the most. Creating not only a backbone for the whole song, but also setting the pace, rather than having the riffs leading the song. The bass, while subtle, adds a whole other dimension to the music. There is nothing very stand-out about it, but you know it is there and gives each song a very full feeling. And finally, the vocals; the vocals are the most prominent feature of every song. It is not only the Deftones’ signature; it is an integral piece to the music. Without Chino’s truly unique style of vocals, nothing would work quite as well as it should. His emotional and remarkably beautiful singing is a trademark for them. This album is no exception to that fact. His vocal delivery is as strong as ever and is filled to the brim with emotion.
Emotion, in my opinion, is what drives music in general. It doesn’t matter what genre, if there is not a piece of you in the music, then it is, to quote a certain Sputnik user, artistically worthless. Deftones understand this and use it to their advantage. The main vessel of emotion in any band is the vocalist. Not only is the voice the best way to convey emotions, in most cases, the vocalist is also the primary lyricist. Chino has taken the role as both, and does them both perfectly. He is, without any doubt, the best vocalist for the job. His lyrics, no matter how abstractly they are written, are given much attention to as he sings them. His vocal delivery, however, ranges for each song. Nearly half the album is made up of slow, moody tracks where Chino shows off his intimate side. Take for example, “Beware”. Chino’s brooding, while paired with fantastic synth elements, is one of the most haunting things I have heard. The lyrics in it, while abstract, could only serve as an emotional vessel for his voice and it would still be good. While I think that every lyric written has some sort of meaning, whether we can figure it out or not, it does not matter much. Songs like this are made to feel first, think later.
In between the slow, intimate songs, there is a “Mr. Hyde” side of the album. Vocally, they are harsher. Instrumentally, they are heavier. Lyrically, they are some of the most pissed off that we have seen from the Deftones. This is where they show the aggression that they were first known for. Songs like “Combat”, “Rats!Rats!Rats!”, and “Rapture” are a throwback to their older days in music, only fine-tuned a bit. With a perfect blend of atmospheric electronic samples, aggressive instruments, and some of Chino’s harshest shrieks and screams, they are able to create the other side of Saturday Night Wrist
. This side is just as necessary as the other. Instead of creating a consistent pace in the album, they intertwine these four minute bursts of frustration with the intimate, vulnerable songs. While some people would consider this a drawback, I happen to see it as a perfect idea. Not only does it keep you on your toes by not allowing you to become comfortable with a certain pace in the album, it also provides a certain personality to the album as a whole; the feeling of being lost in one’s thoughts and emotions. We have all experienced that feeling. Depression, anger, frustration, vulnerability; they are all things that as human beings, we understand and empathize with. The combination attack of all these emotions is what makes this album perfect.
While Saturday Night Wrist
may be the perfect soundtrack to one’s emotions, there seem to be some “inconsistencies” that turn people away. The first of these would be the song “Mein”. While there is nothing completely wrong with “Mein”, there really is not a whole lot to say about it. The song doesn’t stand out very much on the album, but it is solid. The thing about it, though, is the guest vocals. Popping in to sing with Chino is Serj Tankian. He is by no means a bad vocalist, but his style of singing is not just the other end of the spectrum, it is a completely different rainbow! Needless to say, he sounds out of place on the track. As strange a pair as it would seem, you can take the pairing as either a lapse of judgment, or merely another layer in the song. With Serj’s gruff vocals, it adds another dimension to the song -- a counterweight, if you will. Serj seems to be the bitter to Chino’s sweet in this context. As such, I do not fault the album for the song. And to be honest, I quite enjoy it.
The instrumental track "U,U,D,D,L,R,L,R,A,B,Select,Start” comes right in the middle of the album. I find it to be a very nice track to have here. Some think of it as filler, but after having your mind pushed and pulled between aggression and ambience, it is a nice break. The real controversy, though, is the song “Pink Cellphone”. Oh yes, this song is infamous among Deftones fans. The electronic track is an odd one, to say the least. Without any real purpose, it turns off many people. In all honesty it doesn’t add anything to the music whatsoever. The only real reason that I can think of that would make them include it would be as a joke. The lyrics are so ridiculous that it almost has
to be a joke. That being said, this blemish can, and very much should be, overlooked.
This album, though possibly hard to swallow, is a fantastic combination of frustration, anger, vulnerability, and hope. While it is not the ‘definitive’ Deftones album, it is certainly the best example of what the band is really about. It may be underappreciated by some, but to me, it is the perfect Deftones album.