Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: April 8th, 2016 via Reprise Records
Deftones have released their long awaited follow up to 2012’s Koi No Yokan with Gore, an album which looks to build on their momentum gained through previous releases with an array of experimental textures. While this seems to have fans divided between those who wish for a return to the bands alternative metal roots, and those who have embraced this new layer, Gore is a record which has taken the band into new territory, which leaves much to be excited about for their future records.
Gore is a unique album in that there is a near equal split between material which builds upon the sludgy, dissonant, and polyrhythmic metal that the Deftones are known for, and that which looks to bring the band into experimental, and sometimes shaky territory. While I applaud the adventurous tone which Gore has taken, I feel that in some cases it was being experimental for the sake of being experimental rather than for the sake of bettering the music. Where in many songs, such as “Prayers/Triangles” and “Hearts/Wires”, it works, but there are also many cases when the juxtaposition of pretty and ambient sections transitioning into traditional Deftones’ dissonance, makes for a far less cohesive song, as heard in “Pittura Infamante”, “Xenon”, and “(L)MIRL”. This, however, does not stop Gore from being a good record.
Songs of the likes of “Geometric Headdress” and “Doomed User” fall into the former category discussed above, and are simply incredible. They seem to pick up right from where Koi No Yokan left off, giving fans the abrasive edge which they have been craving. The title track is also one of the song where the contrasting clean verse and the heavy chorus work really well; driven by a killer beat from drummer Abe Cunningham and full of Stephen Carpenter’s dissonant guitar licks behind the throat wrenching screams of Chino Moreno, the song demonstrates a more refined approach to progression and experimentation. “Phantom Bride” takes the role of the album’s ballad, and while the verses may feel empty, the push and pull effect from Cunningham is so simply done, yet a genius effect to give the song some life. The track is also one of the few in all the Deftones’ discography to feature a guitar solo, masterfully and soulfully performed by Alice In Chains guitarist, Jerry Cantrell. The heaviest of the whole record, and one of the best, is likely “Acid Hologram”, a song as sludgy and aggressive as they come.
Gore is neither as bad or great a record that people are painting it to be. Upon listening to it a number of times, a few different aspects have begun to stand out. Firstly, there are a number of great songs on across the album; typically they are the heavier and straight forward tracks which often feature a similar style of the band’s roots. Of the experimental songs, there are some brilliant sections, which as a listener, I would have wished to hear these ideas fully developed and progress naturally, rather than shift into a completely contrasting section which can be quite jarring and ultimately removing from the situation. One major element which I would say is almost completely missing from Gore is the dark and haunting feeling which has been so prominent throughout the Deftones’ career, as heard on classics of the likes of “Digital Bath” and “Change (In The House Of Flies)”. Even on the heavier tracks, this element seems to be absent, even among the most dissonant of parts. I am sure many fans would agree that this was one of the most interesting and unique aspects of the band. Despite all this, I am excited to see what direction the Deftones take next. Should this be a transitional period, it will be very interesting to see how they evolve on future recordings, and refine their experimental edge to better fuse it along with their traditional metal. By any means, Gore is a solid record; however, it does not measure up to both the band’s recent and classic albums.
Deftones will be at Mississauga’s International Centre on August 13th.
2: Acid Hologram
3: Doomed User
4: Geometric Headdress
6: Pittura Infamante
10: Phantom Blade
Watch the music video for “Prayers/Triangles”
Listen to “Hearts/Wires”:
Listen to “Doomed User”: