Review Summary: Continuing to blend beauty and primal aggression like no band before or after, Deftones release a outstanding addition to their discography.
“Koi No Yokan,” a Japanese phrase for the sense upon first meeting a person that the two of them will fall in love. A pretty odd title yes, but Deftones’ discography hasn’t exactly been easy to decipher with past titles such as Saturday Night Wrist, Diamond Eyes, and White Pony. But, being a rather esoteric band to casual music fans has always been Deftones’ forte. Koi No Yokan picks up right where Diamond Eyes left off with the band flirting even more with Swedish metal gods, Meshuggah, and also allows a substantial amount of keyboard usage throughout the album.
Swerve City, literally, starts off the album with plenty of curves; the riff itself enormously enveloping the listener right before the lead singer, Chino Moreno, can step in and treat the listener with a beautiful chorus. This gorgeous string of words effortlessly transitions back into the pure serpentine angst of the opening riff.
What always makes Deftones Deftones is their innate ability to aimlessly shift between skull-crushing riffs such as in Swerve City and Poltergeist to blissfully serene passages like What Happened to You? and Entombed in single songs with seemingly no effort at all. This knack has been displayed on almost all of their albums and gets repeatedly perfected on every new LP. A superb example of this is present in the song Rosemary. Even though Rosemary starts off in an atmosphere most artists struggle with capturing in a song, Deftones unleashes a palm-muted riff before they cunningly mesh both sections of the song into one. And as if Deftones weren’t already masters of song composition, they end Rosemary by returning to the relative calm the song began with - which conveniently for the listener transitions well into the next song, Goon Squad. Besides the effortless transitions present in most songs on Koi No Yokan, Deftones also inject a little bit of atonality into the songs. Their atonal elements are most apparent in the opening passage of Gauze and Leathers. In both cases, the atonal parts aren’t used as a filler (like most bands would) but each song actually capitalizes on the atonality and uses it to evolve into riffs that demonstrate the clever awareness that Stephen Carpenter, lead guitarist, possesses. For ardent music enthusiasts, the skill provides an exciting listening experience is vital for crafting the perfect album.
In any album there are bound to be portions of songs or even entire songs that make the listener stop what they are doing and listen. Incredibly, nearly every track on Koi No Yokan is pure gold, but the intro and riff to track four, Poltergeist, stood out a more than normal. From the start of the main riff the song inherently shouts Meshuggah influence, but I don’t even think Meshuggah themselves could have pulled off writing a song like Poltergeist even if they did include singing.
Poltergeist opens with a simulated clapping intro. Abnormal, yes. But generic and over the top? Absolutely not. Then, the song erupts into pure, unadulterated Meshuggah worship to the highest degree before growing into a soaring chorus. Poltergeist halts and then Sergio Vega, the current bass player crafts an intricate yet subtle bass line before the guitars come busting through the void. The song rides the riff until the end and arguably the softest song on the album is next, Entombed.
It is intriguing that Entombed follows Poltergeist and not simply because these songs are polar opposites, in fact, that is what actually makes them gel so well. However, in my opinion the best way to describe this album in a nutshell is if one were to listen to Poltergeist and then Entombed. These two tracks so drastically different but they provide the foundation for the album.
All in all, for Deftones discord equals grace; chaos equates to melody. This formula has worked well for them especially on their two past albums, Saturday Night Wrist and Diamond Eyes. Both qualities are exhibited in abundance and in good taste on Koi No Yokan. In actuality, rather than be the record that announces Deftones’ fall from grace, Koi No Yokan supersedes Diamond Eyes and continues their streak of superb metal albums.