Review Summary: The album that nearly caused the demise of the Deftones. It's disjointed, strange at times, and brilliant all at the same time.
Saturday Night Wrist takes a while to grow on you if you are already a hardened Deftones fan. After starting out life as a young and aggressive “nu-metal” band with their 1995 debut LP Adrenaline, the Deftones started to alter their sound with their 1997 follow-up effort Around the Fur. While still ultra-aggressive, singer Chino Moreno started to experiment with mixing up his howling scream with his soothing croon. Come 2000, the Deftones had completely moved away from their earlier nu-metal sound, and released the highly successful White Pony. Next came the anticipated Deftones in 2003, which didn’t quite live up to its predecessor White Pony, but was a very solid record none the less. And now this leads me to 2006’s Saturday Night Wrist. I believe that out of all the albums put out by the Deftones, this album causes the most heated discussion between fans. Is it underrated? Is it overrated? Is it their worst album? Or is it one of their best? Most Deftones fans agree that Around the Fur and White Pony are brilliant. Yet Saturday Night Wrist is polarising. I thought I would give my take on this particular album.
First off, to understand the jaded sound of Saturday Night Wrist, you must take into consideration that this album took 18 months to record. Band members were going through divorces, lead singer Chino Moreno was off working on his side project Team Sleep’s debut album. Guitarist Stephen Carpenter wanted to play loud. Chino Moreno wanted a more subtle sound. The band nearly broke up. And what we were left with was an album which didn’t know what it wanted to be, an album that seemed all over the place. Yet somehow it works.
Now to the album itself. Saturday Night Wrist varies a lot in pace and style throughout, hitting you hard with tracks such as “Rapture”, “Rats! Rats! Rats!” and “Combat”, the latter of which has a long and intriguing intro, which lulls you in and then smacks you right in the face as Chino screams the question “Who’s side are you on!?” It also has some more subtle, yet no less fantastic, songs such as “Beware”, “Cherry Waves”, “Xerces” and the brilliant closer “Riviere” – which is one of my all-time favourite songs. If you want to hear what the Deftones are all about, check this song out. Chino's soothing vocals, complemented perfectly by Stephen's crunching guitar and Abe's drums. It's soft, it's loud, and it's mezmerising. Just sublime.
In between are some hits and misses, with the hits including lead single “Hole in the Earth” which references the infighting the band endured during recording, with the memorable line being “I hate all of my friends, they all lack taste sometimes”. “Kimdracula” is another blow-you-away kind of song, the opening riff can get stuck in your head for days. All songs mentioned are fantastic, varied, and very memorable. Some of the Deftones best work on record.
Now to the misses. In a rarity for Deftones, there are a couple of songs on this record that are not very good, unfortunately. Second single “Mein”, which features System of a Down’s Serj Tankian, just falls flat and is kind of just…blah. The song never really kicks into gear, and while catchy, its catchy in an annoying way. A complete waste of a song when you consider that I’m a fan of System of a Down. “Mein” could have been memorable, but instead it ends up being one of the rare Deftones songs I bypass. The other poor track on the record is the weird “Pink Cellphone”, featuring Annie Hardy. I have no clue who she is, nor do I care after listening to this. It’s strangely odd, and I can’t figure out why it’s on the album at all. There must be some reason behind it, a hidden message perhaps? Nevertheless, this track really effects the flow of the album. So too does the instrumental track “U,U,D,D,L,R,L,R,A,B,Select,Start”, a fine little interlude of sorts, but no where near as memorable as the beautiful “Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event” off of 2003’s Deftones.
And there you have it. Although Saturday Night Wrist throws up more skip-worthy tracks than its predecessors, it remains some of Deftones’ best work due to the sheer brilliance of the other songs. In my opinion, the new sound taken to this album works wonderfully, with “Cherry Waves”, “Xerces”, “Kimdracula” and the phenomenal closer “Riviere” instant Deftones classics.
Saturday Night Wrist is pure Deftones in the fact that it sounds different from their previous work. That’s what I like best about this band, they have an album for every mood. Saturday Night Wrist is a hidden gem, and as is so often the case with the Deftones, gets more appreciated over time. I highly recommend this record. 4.5/5.