Review Summary: Incredibly tepid and uncharacteristically dull, "Koi No Yokan" sees Deftones forget what has made them a household name.
Sitting down to pen my feelings on Deftones’ new album, Koi No Yokan
is tough work. This isn’t because of its powerful impact, nor its groundbreaking or game-changing sound, no, it has more to do with the fact that Koi No Yokan
evokes almost nothing in me. At 52 minutes, Deftones play Deftones in a shockingly pale manner most unlike them. While the band’s signature sound has remained unchanged over the years, it’s with their latest that we see a most dis-impassioned delivery threatening to derail everything. Less a step forward (or even a step to the side) and more a complete cessation of movement, Deftones feel lost and their seventh effort suffers greatly.
Koi No Yokan
sounds great, in spite of itself. To be quite frank, the production is absolutely perfect. It’s crisp and clear, with the band sounding phenomenal at each turn. Added to this is the typical atmosphere, which has always put Deftones ahead of the pack. This goes deeper than the usual “fuzzy” feeling that often evokes the word “atmosphere,” with each facet of the band’s sound having a very warm and enveloping quality. Throughout the album’s run time, each song glides by with its beautiful presentation, making it far and away Koi No Yokan
’s highlight. However, it’s the content that really hurts the album. While it all sounds beautiful, Deftones simply missed the mark in regards to captivating songwriting. Koi No Yokan
is filled with cookie-cutter, by the numbers songs that simply come off as incredibly dull. Each of the record’s 11 songs plays similarly: a bout of chugging guitar leads into Chino Moreno’s all-too-predictable vocal chorus. Sure there are some variations, such as the lovely opening to “Entombed,” or the surprisingly varied “What Happened to You",” but most of the album falls painfully flat. Much of what is going on isn’t bad, per se, but rather, there just isn’t anything of interest to be found.
Whatever your opinions toward Chino Moreno and his vocal style may be, they won't be changed too greatly here. Per the usual, he over-dramatizes each phrase and scoops first syllables all over the place. He lacks substance to be sure, but its his style that is to be appreciated. With a (very forced) croon that could melt your heart, Moreno's voice fits well into the overarching sound that the band attempts here. He may not be metal's most profound vocalist, but when he hits his stride, such as with the chorus in "Rosemary," it doesn't really matter because everything comes together very well.
Though a lot of criticism up to this point has been directed towards how dull and uninspired Koi No Yokan
is, it must be said that a few selections truly impress. When Deftones step out of their comfort zone and toy around with different melodies, excellent results are found. "Entombed" and "Rosemary" are two such songs that stand above the rest. Much of their sounds rely on the album's beautiful atmosphere, rather than the incessant chugs that define the rest of the track list. With a lighter mood, they manage to be much more engaging than even the most powerful and oppressive pieces. When the chorus kicks in with "Rosemary" one would be hard pressed not to be in awe of how well the band manages to sound like a perfect, cohesive unit. Unfortunately, moments like these are incredibly scarce.
Koi No Yokan
is a passable alt-rock/metal album by a band that is capable of much more. It is quite easy to talk up the better moments of the album, because they really do impress. Yet all the little missteps are much more difficult to describe, as much of the record is so insubstantial that it evades an in depth description. The heart wrenching moments that defined Diamond Eyes
are missing, as is the unbridled passion that was so imperative in White Pony
. What replaces them here is forgettable batch of songs made by a band that-for whatever reason- completely struck out.