Very few bands manage the balance of beauty and ferociousness as flawlessly as Deftones can. Now almost three decades deep into their career, the Sacramento outfit have never been shy of experimenting with their sound, yet still maintaining that trademark “Deftones sound” no matter what; name a subgenre of metal and they’ve probably been tagged under that title at one point or another, and then some.
Eighth full-length ‘Gore’ is the first release since the death of long-time bassist Chi Cheng, who tragically passed almost 3 years to the day of this record’s release, and, with this along with the album’s title, you’d be forgiven for thinking this would be a clear cathartic outlet for the band to grieve and unleash their pain. Instead, what we have here is Deftones‘ most ethereal and majestic offering to date.
We’re submerged into this sonic flow of a very grand yet far from overstated world of ‘Gore’ from the very first notes of lead single and album opener ‘Prayers/Triangles’, and from there until the very end the juxtaposition of spacious dream and merciless nightmare that we know Deftones for comes to life again.
Chino Moreno sticks to mainly singing throughout, Stephen Carpenter delivers riff after riff that make his presence very much known in a less savage way then we’ve seen throughout the band’s catalogue, Abe Cunningham‘s pummelling drum fills are as crucial as ever, and Sergio Vega – Cheng‘s successor – and his 6-string bass groove really helps push this all to the forefront.
Those longing for their fill of chunky metal and Moreno‘s jarring screams, however, will not be disappointed. The record’s title-track is as frantic as it is composed, and easily stands toe-to-toe with the likes of groove-fest ‘Diamond Eyes’, and ‘Doomed User’ is just begging to spend its life birthing pit after pit at the band’s future shows and festival appearances.
It is, however, the more blissfully dark tracks that steal the crown here. ‘Hearts/Wires’ has lush yet subtle layers throughout the vocals and guitar work, ‘Rubicon’ walks the knife’s edge between spacious and tense, and comes in as a contender for one of the best album closers in the band’s arsenal. ‘(L)MIRL’ – or ‘(Let’s) Meet In Real Life’ – is elegant yet haunting before its jagged end, and ‘Phantom Bride’ drifts into ‘Minerva’-esque territory of spacious scale, before the licks of Jerry Cantrell (of Alice In Chains) enter the fold in an almost stand-off fashion towards Carpenter‘s huge chords.
Throughout its near 50-minute run time, the blood that runs through the veins of ‘Gore’ never stops oozing a spacious and dream-like aura. It may not be their most crushing release, but, if nothing else, this album stands as ongoing proof that even veterans can still remain mercilessly relevant, captivatingly creative, and continuously exciting.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)