ALBUM REVIEW: Deftones – Ohms

Release Date: September 25th 2020
Label: Reprise Records


If the reaction to 2016’s ‘Gore’ was anything to go by, it was not only a reminder that Deftones fans are certainly spoilt, but also that it’s not the first time Deftones‘ desire to always push the limits of what they can do has sometimes been a challenge for even their most devoted fans.

Nevertheless, Deftones have nothing to prove to anybody at this stage. For their ninth studio album, ‘Ohms’, any expectations will be drastically shattered, and Terry Date‘s return on production duties was never going to disappoint.

After a synth-heavy intro, ‘Genesis’ gets us straight into first gear. Full-throated screams from frontman Chino Moreno have certainly been rare in latter day Deftones, but we open with the vocal attack at full throttle, one of many facets that makes this a head banging number with lots of urgency.

‘Ceremony’ is Deftones doing what they do best, bringing enough low-end guitar work, but still serving up a perfect song for a night time drive. A classic Abe Cunningham shuffle and Sergio Vega‘s sleek, effortless bass lines serve as the engine that fuels everything, but, as good as this is, the best is still yet to come.

‘Urantia’ is certainly a tease and a half; you think you’ll get a full-blown thrash song before we get another cinematic, seductive number. Then, when the thrash riff comes back in to end the song, it’s the classic tension-and-release aspect of the band operating at the highest level. ‘Error’ is as immediate as it gets, with eerie noises coming from Stephen Carpenter‘s guitar and an irresistible bounce maintained throughout.

Still, the album’s clear highlight is ‘The Spell Of Mathematics’, which really is as atmospheric as the album gets. This one will no doubt give the most toughened listeners no choice but to surrender and fall under its charms. ‘Pompeji’ is another cast-iron highlight, and the main hook of the song smacks you in the face when you least expect it.

On a record where every band member is giving it their all, it’s all the more impressive that keyboardist Frank Delgado is arguably the shining star. Shimmering, enveloping synth lines dominate the album, most notably with the cinematic interlude linking ‘Pompeji’ to ‘This Link Is Dead’, which is unchartered territory at this point. You’re under a cauldron of atmosphere at times, and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

The lush, atmospheric experiments on ‘Gore’ and even ‘Koi No Yokan’ have somehow been made even stronger, marrying brutality and beauty with the effortless ease that only Deftones can truly manage.

And, of course, they’re at the point where they can take influence from themselves, rather than other bands. Further highlighting the improvement on their subtle, brooding works, the closer title-track is an emotional, reflective closer that would fit right in on their 2003 self-titled effort. Moreno‘s signature soaring melodies lift this song massively, wrapping up an album full of highs.

Deftones have astronomically high standards in the first place, but it just so happens that ‘Ohms’ sees them once again entering a new decade pulling one hell of a rabbit from out of the hat. The combination of their 25-year long reign of setting the benchmark for other bands, and their unwillingness to bend to anyone’s law but themselves has led to simply breathtaking results.