Album Review: DEFTONES Gore
Regarding the legacy of the band, I view Deftones as divided into two entities, segmented by the passing of Chi. Adrenaline through Saturday Night Wrist represents their mastering of nü angst to alt-metal experimentation as the two releases in the past six years would act as the next matured stage in the band. Personally, Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan seemed to hit the nail right on the head after the tense hiatus. While those two LPs were received quite well by both critics and fanbase, it felt as if there was a reluctance to hold them as highly as previous releases with the absence of such a founding member still on the mind. In hopes of bridging this gap, the group takes the third step forward in a continuation of their established creativity and depth with Gore.
In the same fashion of division as above, I also feel that there are at least two different sets of Deftones fans: 1) 90's alternative metal admirers and 2) those who swear by the experimental side of Saturday Night Wrist. For the most part, the second mentioned group is more likely to agree with the approach on Gore as SNW has a similar flow shown accurately on the first single, "Prayers/Triangles." The piece's radio rock pandering pace at first appeared lackluster, but with further listens, I found the luminous verse and chorus structure to be catchy and understandable towards why the track was met with open arms.
"Doomed User" possessed more of what is to be expected from the aggressive side of the band, yet felt like a less smooth version of "CMND/CTRL." In overall perspective, this may be tied with the track title as the album's 'heaviest,' which isn't inferring much considering the low quantity of such a trait on the release. One partial aspect that may have affected and lessened what many people consider the heaviness of the record would be the production. For the majority of songs, the guitar is either less prominent in the mix or holds a grunge-y distortion (shown on "Xenon") rather than the increasingly djent tone that has become commonplace for Deftones. Without being a part of the process, it is difficult to point fingers, but it seems as if Carpenter's input and producer Matt Hyde's involvement may have been the defining factors of this.
Looking at past singles, I can definitely understand the decent amount of attention and praise for the low-key aesthetic of "Hearts/Wires." Early tracks such as "Change (In the House of Flies)" and "Digital Bath" to even pieces off their recent albums like "Sextape" and "Entombed" relied on comparable shoegaze/ambience dynamics. Where as older albums evoked an emotional response via riffs and grooves, the evolving melodic segments are the standout characteristics here. "Pittura Infamante," "(L)MIRL," and "Rubicon" are perfect examples of this sentiment in which the composition takes the listener deeper as it progresses. The guitar solo by Alice in Chains' Jerry Cantrell fits perfectly on "Phantom Bride" and dare I say is the most redeeming attribute of the song. I feel no regret in stating that the second half of the album is by far the stronger side.
A consistent thought that I had throughout listening to the album is how well the tracks would translate live and to what quantity. Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan were generously performed on tour, but I have difficulty in determining which songs off this LP would fit on the stage besides "Prayers/Triangles," "Doomed User," and "Gore."
With myself and many others labeling it as a grower, I can't yet conclude where Gore lays on the quality spectrum of Deftones' discography, but it certainly isn't near the top with concrete classics Around the Fur or White Pony. Based off current reviews and comment sections, there seems to be a mostly positive response and I'll agree that the album has its moments, but comparatively, there feels to be more build-ups to less pay-offs. The mid-tempo pace and soft edge that encompasses the almost entirety of Gore provides for a less instant gratification. Instead, we see a focus shift to nuance and detail. In the end, the space rock atmospheres and subtle melodies are evidence of the group's ongoing admirable evolution.