Deftones | Koi No Yokan

Reprise Records (2012)
By RYAN REED  |  November 12, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars


Deftones aren't — and never were — a nü-metal band. Sure, they play 25-string, drop-Z guitars and feature a keyboardist disguised as a turntablist, but they're as much a nü-metal band as they are a barbershop quartet. Deftones' brand of metal is artful and spacey, patient and textured: Stephen Carpenter's de-tuned distortion washes over like menacing storm clouds; Abe Cunningham's dextrous drumming takes cues from both hip-hop and prog; and, at his most melodic, Chino Moreno is the greatest art-rock vocalist on the planet. The problem, from day one, has been making that formula work over the course of an entire album: early LPs like 1997's Around the Fur grew monotonous the longer they played, whereas recent efforts like 2006's Saturday Night Wrist have been plagued by filler. Koi No Yokan, the band's seventh studio album, is their most consistent batch of songs in more than a decade, and it's also their most dynamic — blending the trippy atmospheres of 2000's White Pony with the balls-out aggression of 2003's Deftones. This is the band's second album with rock producer-extraordinaire Nick Raskulinecz (who recently assisted Rush with their most focused album since the Reagan administration), and, sadly, it's also their second since the 2008 car crash and subsequent coma of longtime bassist Chi Cheng. But that tragedy seems to have given the band an aching urgency: "Swerve City" commences with a trademark space-metal surge, with Moreno harmonizing over miles of fuzz, a porcelain bass groove, and subtle washes of synth. In the past, the band's heavy and atmospheric sides were often used as jarring contrasts; here the combination is seamless on anthems like "Gauze" and "Tempest," which pummel with brick-wall propulsion one second and soothe with dreamy melodicism the next. Koi No Yokan is not only the year's best metal-rock-space-pop album — it's also the finest Deftones album, front to back, to date.
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