A Look Into Deftones Diamond Eyes

So the new Deftones record, Diamond Eyes, has leaked. A full two months before the release date too. For the band, I guess that’s bad, if not entirely suprising news. The good news? It’s good. Really good, in fact. The general consensus is that it’s their best work since their magnum opus, 2000’s White Pony, and I would agree, but then again I am a fan of all of their post-Pony work, namely Deftones and Saturday Night Wrist.

But I can see why people fell away from the band a little since then. Deftones was a dark, punishing record, probably their heaviest to date (or at least their most aggressive/confrontational). Saturday Night Wrist was an improvement, with more melody and heart within the songs, as well as the return of big choruses, something which was something of a rarity on S/T. After bassist Chi Cheng was hospitalised and fell into a coma, the band tried to continue on. The album they were creating, Eros, was shelved and they started all over again. And here we are, with Diamond Eyes.

The record opens with the title track, a lurching beast which suddenly opens up with a sweeping, romantic chorus with Chino crooning “Time will see us realise/diamonds rain across the sky”. From the off, it’s clear, the band are more focused than they have been in years. The second thing that is apparent is the improvement in Chino’s singing. Since White Pony, his voice (live anyway) has ranged from weak to awful at times. The years of screaming had clearly began to take it’s toll, and his vocal chords were suffering, as they had done in the past.

The second track, Royal, further demonstrates Chino and the band’s renewed vigour.  The songs thuds into life instantly, full of dark drama and Chino bringing his ‘I’m gonna freak out and kill you/myself’ vocal delivery once more. The harmonies on this tune are great. Once it hits the 3.00 min mark, Chino opens his throat and unleashes a scream that lasts ten seconds and literally took my breath away. I stopped the song and rewound it, it blew my mind that much.

Chino has his swagger back on CMND/CTRL, with the band giving him a funky riff to bounce off. It’s another quality tune, with old-school ‘tones groove all over it. You’ve Seen The Butcher is a standout, with it’s off-kilter rhythm and Chino’s expressive melodies. It has a sexy hook and a danceable feel to it, and continues this albums streak of great songs.

Beauty School is a welcome chilled tune, with the guitar interplay between Stef and Chino driving the song, offset by Frank’s keys. It also boasts a huge, epic hook, and is the closest the band have came to writing a power ballad. Prince freaked me out to begin with, cause the band have basically rerecorded RX Queen from White Pony in the verses. Lucky for us the song opens up half-way and reveals a MAJOR riff, with Chino at his most passionate as he screams “I guess to the world outside/I’m okay, I’m alright”. It’s a great moment.

The single, Rocket Skates is up next, with it’s huge riffs and the awesome screams of “Guns! Razors! Knifes!”. It’s catchy as all hell, but a little too long. Still a banger though. Sextape takes it down a bit again, with some plaintive guitar and effects bringing Chino’s crooning to the forefront. Really understated drumming and a general meditative vibe give this track the weight it needs to support Chino’s emotion-filled vocals. Incredible stuff. He’s really back to his best.

Risk is another peach of a tune, a sexy bass riff letting Chino get his groove on again. The band sound tight and confident here, and this one is gonna kill live. It’s surprising how mellow the album is, especially the second half. Usually they have one song that’s just a huge heavy beast, like Elite on White Pony or When Girls Telephone Boys on Deftones. The heaviest track on Diamond Eyes is the second one, Royal, which is nowhere near a Hexagaram or Rats! Rats! Rats! level of brutality. Hmm.

976-EVIL is a pretty silly song title, but the song itself is good. A bit of a grower for me, only really clicked with it on the second or third listen. Sounds like an evolution of the SNW stuff like Xerces and Cherry Waves, with an added progressive rock feel. The disc ends with This Place Is Death, a title that I have been told is a Lost reference. I care not. This is another step away from the norm for the band, with Chino draped in effects while the band jam underneath him. It’s a little anti-climatic, and probably the weakest song on the album.

So there it is. Overall, it’s a really great album, one that stands up to White Pony in the quality stakes. It is front-loaded with excellent tunes and the band sound refreshed and refocused (unfortunately, being that their bassist is in the opposite condition) and I can’t wait to see them rip these songs up live.

Buy the album here for only £8.99!

Deftones – Rocket Skates

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