Review Summary: Many bands wish they were able to release an album as consistently jaw dropping as this one, and for this reason i recommend the album highly despite the fact it has some minor flaws.
After garnering so much popularity since release, with glowing reviews and everybody buzzing about it, Deftones could be safe in the knowledge that their latest release Koi No Yokan is one of the most discussed and widely recognised albums of the year. No doubt it will be featuring on many peoples end of year lists and could snatch many end of the year awards. Building off of their solid previous album Diamond Eyes, Koi No Yokan follows the same patterns as that with its minimalistic but cool-sounding and emotional approach but hones and refines it to perfection and in doing so has crafted one of the most memorable releases in recent history.
The guitar work for starters is very nicely written. There are no guitar lines on here that feel out of place or pointless within the context and confines of this release. The band stripped Diamond Eyes bare and then replaced the occasionally unfocussed style of that album and completely rewrites the rules they played down themselves. Here we have a collection of guitar riffs that flow so well together that this is best heard in its entirety as opposed to just the odd track here and there with some really incredible production work as well to give off an atmospheric and deathly sound with a lot of bite to it. There is absolutely nothing that can be found on here in the guitar department that bears a resemblance to anything flawed at all. Take the riff that opens up the album on the song Swerve City, with its bombastic adrenaline soaked sound to it and enough heaviness to crush Chuck Norris and Hulk Hogan in one go. Then take the nicer, higher registered section later on in the song and consider the contrast and the atmosphere created and you realise just how this album manages to be one of the best releases of the year.
The vocal work is another aspect of this album that can simply not go unmentioned. For the first time out of their seven-album long career Chino Moreno can rest proudly with his work. Whilst on previous albums he has both strong and weaker moments, Chino is absolutely flawless throughout this entire album giving off a bitter tone to his voice with a real gravel and bite behind it but also carrying an aura of desperation. He has a wide enough range with a lower tone as well as his usual middle and energetic sounding voice. On here he sounds really angry and yet as though he is mourning for someone and his morbid tones make the listener really empathise with him and understand more the true nature of this album. Add in the manic screams thrown in throughout the album such as in Leathers and Chino sounds schizophrenic in his voice with some real anguish channelled into this album.
But greatness comes with a price and on this album one needs look no further than the lyrics. Consistently the lyrics feel immature, like a school boy trying so hard to be cryptic and confuse the listener and sound horrifying but they fail. “Shedding your skin, showing your textures”, “cutting your ties, now and forever”. Those particular poetic lines come from the aforementioned Leathers (which otherwise happens to be the best song on the album with its angst-filled sound and desperation to it), but it does not stop there. Every song on this album sounds really gritty but is nearly killed off by the ridiculous and unnecessary lyrics that come off feeling really juvenile.
The only other flaw with this album is that it really does not have a whole lot of variety to it. Every song follows near enough the same policy of just being balls out heavy start to finish and being incredibly catchy and melodic throughout. It is all very dark sounding but perhaps one or two lighter songs spread across it would have helped a little more. Also it does drag on a little too long-fifty one minutes is a little too long to hear the same thing over and over again-so a couple of softer songs would have been nice to break up the album in the best possible way. There are a couple of soft minutes within much heavier songs but this is just not enough and they are too short lived to really dwell on them and think about why they were placed there.
As an overall ass-kicking product, they do not come much finer than this. Koi No Yokan is a marvellous release and a credit to the band. Were it a little more varied it would be even closer to perfect but for what it is it is one hell of an experience that everyone, regardless of their opinion of the band’s past work, should give another go. Listen to Leathers and Tempest, the two pre-release tasters of the album, and the opener to get an indication as to what the album sounds like, and then take the section where Chino near enough carries the song Poltergeist on half-way through it and contemplate whether the album is for you. Whatever your opinion of the band, I can not recommend this highly enough and it stands proudly as the band’s finest work to date.