Deftones
Ohms


5.0
classic

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
September 24th, 2020 | 6918 replies


Release Date: 09/25/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The best Deftones album yet

Long have Deftones been the subject of adoration in the world of metal. White Pony and Diamond Eyes were particularly impressive feats, blending seductive croons and towering melodies with blistering riffs and spellbinding atmospheres. One could argue that Deftones have never even crafted so much as an average record, with 2016’s Gore marking their closest brush with disappointment even though it still eclipsed what most other artists in the scene are capable of. This is a band that operates in its own sphere; they compete only with themselves because nobody else is on their level. This makes what I’m about to allege all the more significant: Ohms, an album created twenty-five years into the band’s illustrious career, is the best thing they’ve ever done. Better than Diamond Eyes, and yes, even better than White Pony. Ohms is a quarter century high-water mark the likes of which we could have only dreamt up.

Deftones is clearly inspired by their reunion with producer Terry Date, with whom they last worked on 2008’s Eros – a project they scrapped after bassist Chi Cheng’s car accident left him in a coma from which he never awoke. The emotional weight of returning to Date’s studio can be felt in every exhaustedly wrought scream and with each impassioned, blazing guitar riff. It almost feels like Cheng was with them in spirit for this one – a collection of tracks that are as passionate, complex, and frightening as we’ve ever heard Deftones.

Ohms is a wrecking ball from the moment it arrives. The album’s gnarled atmospheric layers and soaring choruses immediately recall Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan, although this record is arguably more aggressive than either. All of this is evident in ‘Genesis’, which feels like a re-awakening for the band. The formula hasn’t changed – they still espouse their trademark blend of beauty and chaos – but there’s a new energy from the album’s very inception that is unprecedented. Perhaps it came from working with Date again, or maybe it’s Cheng’s memory haunting the studio, but either way Deftones sound rejuvenated and more creative than they have in over a decade; possibly ever. As ‘Genesis’ fades into the hypnotic ‘Ceremony’, and then jolts us back into consciousness with the stuttering riffs and romantic chorus of ‘Urantia’, it’s abundantly clear that Ohms is going to be a juggernaut.

Where Ohms surpasses Deftones’ other iconic releases is in its dense, unpredictable layering and sheer intensity. There aren’t many traits present on Ohms that we’ve never heard from the band before (the screeching seagulls of ‘Pompeji’ notwithstanding), but they’ve woven all these glimpses of previous albums together and improved upon them in nearly every facet. Even Diamond Eyes – by any measure a contender for the best metal album of the 2010s – had its moments of simplicity, but Ohms is so high-powered and unrelenting that it never really affords listeners a ‘Sextape’ to catch their breath (the closest it comes is probably ‘Pompeji’s slow burn). It also boasts Around the Fur’s aggression (‘This Link Is Dead’ launches into some of the most vitriolic screams of Chino’s career, cushioned only by that downright terrifying bridge), only the hatred is more focused and refined. The tense, sprawling atmosphere draws from the very best moments of Koi No Yokan, but they’re arguably even more intricate and beautiful – such as the way that ‘Headless’ floats in via stunning ambience and exits to a longing, wistful chorus. It could be argued that the only thing White Pony has on Ohms is nostalgia, because otherwise this album matches its ingenuity stride for stride. In a lot of ways, it feels like Deftones’ career is flashing before our eyes – only through the more volatile and unmistakably ugly lens of 2020.

The unsettled, tumultuous nature of Ohms is best captured by ‘The Spell of Mathematics’, which sees Deftones ramp up the electric guitars to their highest voltage while Chino screams violently, surging to an ear-melting crescendo, before fading out to…finger snapping? If there’s an underrated aspect to Deftones’ songwriting, it’s always been their willingness to allow aesthetics to clash. Whether it’s interjecting with animal sound bites or introducing pop tropes late into one of the heaviest songs of their entire career, Deftones have always had an unparalleled knack for pulling off ideas that sound dubious on paper, but work – brilliantly – because they are masters of their craft. It’s something that was sorely lacking on Gore, so the return to fervent experimentalism and an utter lack of predictability helps breathe life into Ohms. They sound unhinged here – and quite honestly, it’s the sort of instability and mental collapse that fans of Deftones eternally hope for, and then subsequently rejoice in when it finally happens.

Those of us who thought that Deftones might go soft after their eponymous red herring of a lead single – which, for the record, sounds much better in context as Ohms’ finale – are in for a blunt awakening. Ohms is indisputably the most dynamic release that the band has put forth since Diamond Eyes. It’s a labor of both love and anger; we see Chino bring poetry to life (“so we slip into our hopeless sea of regret as I stare through the haunted maze in your eyes”), but even when he’s writing straight from his heart, Ohms screams from the depths of the band’s soul. It’s a piece that reckons with life’s most poignant and painful moments, from desperate love to devastating loss. There’s a passage on ‘Urantia’ where Chino seems to tip his hat to Eros and Chi Cheng, a reference to the last time Deftones recorded together in Terry Date’s studio – “With all these erased recordings, I'm rearranging parts” / “There is no one left like you” / “You'll find me somewhere again, I believe”. One can’t help but begin to connect the dots. We may never hear Eros, but I’d like to think that Ohms is something of its spiritual counterpart. Heaviness is more than just a decibel level, and that’s an idea that comes through in spades here. This record truly means something to Deftones, and they’ve laid their souls bare for all of us to witness. Ohms is abrasive, destructive, and alluringly beautiful – but most of all, there’s a profound purpose and longing behind every punch that they throw. After two and a half decades, Deftones are still finding new ways to energize, enrage, and inspire themselves – and with Ohms, they’re finding new ways to peak.



s
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user ratings (934)
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
parkercr00k (4.5)
Deftones paint a beautifully abrasive canvas of sound that fits perfectly into their consistent cata...

Jeffery J. Bigglestein (2.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
September 24th 2020


36096 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Now watch how wild it gets!

Digging: Sam Amidon - Sam Amidon

sixdegrees
September 24th 2020


10053 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

first

TetraVaal
September 24th 2020


304 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

'Pompeji' is the best song they've made in like 15-years.

BigPleb
September 24th 2020


61484 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Damn, will read tomorrow.



Not listened enough to form a well rounded option just yet, can't see this landing anywhere near the top of the pile though.

Ryus
September 24th 2020


20808 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

someone needs to tell me chino's current BMI before i can determine if i like this or not

Ziggity
September 24th 2020


1173 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn the hype is real. Excited to jam this tomorrow.

TetraVaal
September 24th 2020


304 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also, going to say it one more time for the cheap seats, the last 40-seconds of 'This Link is Dead' is some of the heaviest shit they've ever done.



Steph and Abe go ham.

Darius The Imposter
September 24th 2020


22573 Comments


sowing im glad you like this and everything but like at this point anything 4.0 and up from you has zero credibility sorry fam imma wait for a second review

Storm In A Teacup
September 24th 2020


30765 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

hip hip hooray!!!

Digging: Envy - The Fallen Crimson

TetraVaal
September 25th 2020


304 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh shit, Storm, so you caved?

Morningrise767
September 25th 2020


2766 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Such an incredible album. Almost feels like listening to these guys for the first time again.

Storm In A Teacup
September 25th 2020


30765 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

@tet I haven't heard it yet but obviously it's a 5.

unclereich
September 25th 2020


7064 Comments


even for 92 ratings a 4.6 is excessive haha. waiting to get my virtual copy to listen. really hoping this is as good as advertised

Storm In A Teacup
September 25th 2020


30765 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

this review is really great so far. fun to be exact.

TetraVaal
September 25th 2020


304 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm not even going to try and predict what the rating will eventually settle on.



I just know that every ten years these guys make a seminal album, haha.



'Ohms' is fucking terrific.

Valkoor952
September 25th 2020


4079 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Holy shit, I was expecting a Sowing 5 but this review is just the icing of the cake lol

DavidPrincipe29
September 25th 2020


5 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's an absolute masterpiece.

veninblazer
September 25th 2020


11755 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Not quite Koi no Yokan for me but DAMN I love this

unclereich
September 25th 2020


7064 Comments


Review Summary: The best Deftones album yet


this won't go over well with the 'tones stans

sixdegrees
September 25th 2020


10053 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

nick greer type beat



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