04 May 2010
by Raziq Rauf
It’s been three and a half years since Deftones released their compelling fifth studio album, Saturday Night Wrist. Nothing extraordinary there until you consider that their original follow-up, Eros was shelved due to a horrific car accident involving bassist, Chi Cheng. A hastily cobbled together effort, however, Diamond Eyes is certainly not.
While the band felt that the tracks written with ex-Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega, represent a new side to their music, it is quintessential Deftones throughout the album. While the back catalogue seems to have developed unevenly since the unerringly powerful balance of White Pony – the pointed heaviness of self-titled effort and the atmospheric sleepiness of Saturday Night Wrist – Diamond Eyes is an album in its purest sense, and it’s an album to savour.
Steph Carpenter’s riffs to the title track explode immediately with Chino Moreno’s siren vocals melting into the chorus. The characteristic heaviness from Abe Cunningham’s punchy drums make the bottom end all the finer when one of Deftones’ most crushing breakdowns closes the song.
If ‘Diamond Eyes’ is a stunning suckerpunch of a song that sets the frantic pace then ‘Royal’ is the rampant, rhythmic anthem. With a chorus smoother than the Milk Tray Man and another breakdown well worthy of some bedroom moshing, it’s almost as if they’re following a recipe.
Then as Moreno barks the verses to the last of the uncompromising opening triumvirate, ‘CTRL/CMND’ you realise that this is just what Deftones are best at. This bridled brutality is what they became so lauded for; this high level of accomplishment in songwriting and the execution thereof.
After the relentless opening trio, the soaring yet sinister melodies of ‘You’ve Seen The Butcher’ and gentle euphoria of ‘Beauty School’ are a welcome foray into the ambient side of the band. While previous albums flitted between hard and soft too frequently, not quite allowing the listener to settle into a groove, Diamond Eyes lets you linger and appreciate the nuances a bit more.
The new rhythm combo shows everything they’ve got in ‘Prince’ with the bizarre syncopations for which Cunningham has become fabled opening the song with Vega’s bass perfectly. Steph Carpenter’s guitar riffs swoop menacingly overhead before Chino Moreno showcases every dimension of his extensive vocal capabilities. This track’s got everything from the less conventional side of Deftones. Everything.
Watch the video to ‘Rocket Skates’ by Deftones
It would be an insult to include ‘Sextape’ amongst the last paragraph about the final few songs such is its grace and sophistication but Diamond Eyes is as exhausting as all great albums should be. By the time you’ve got to the jarring riffs of ‘Risk’, you’ll have been up and down so many times, both emotionally and physically that as Chino leads the line perfectly on ‘976-EVIL’ you’ll be more than happy just to sit back and love this album.
For those who lovingly herald White Pony as one of the finest albums of the last decade, Deftones have provided you with something to put on the same pedestal for this decade. If the 2000 opus took them to the arenas once, Diamond Eyes should take them there once again.
Sounds like: It’s the fucking Deftones. We shouldn’t need to signpost you on this.
Top tracks: Take your pick.
Deftones – Diamond Eyes tracklisting
You’ve Seen the Butcher
This Place Is Death