Now in their fourth decade of existence, and with 20 years distance from their commercial and critical peak 'White Pony', you’d forgive Deftones for taking things easy - but as 'Ohms' can forcibly confirm, these veterans are still happily firing on all cylinders. Key to the band's longevity has always been their ability to weave lightness and dark, to be slightly unclassifiable when stood next to their peers. Thankfully the lazy nu-metal tags of old are long gone, the band quietly building a discography other groups would kill for.
Even ignoring Deftones’ highlights, you'd still be hard-pressed to find a big misstep, an unwanted ghost at the feast... a 'St. Anger'. They've managed to create a sound all of their own while steadily experimenting from record to record, mastering their individual talent for dragging the lister to heaven and hell within a single track.
Four years on from the more experimental Gore, the outfit has returned to producer Terry Date who helmed the majority of their early releases, including the aforementioned White Pony. From the opening drop of ‘Genesis,’ it’s a welcoming reunion, the band's heavier impulses being brought to the fore. Stephen Carpenter's riffs are constantly switching between universe crushing outbursts and nimble thrash licks. It's a taught, muscular listen, and at ten tracks, never outstays its welcome.
Despite its potent nature, 'Ohms' still contains moments of beautiful melancholy, letting the songs breathe and Moreno serenade the listener. ‘Pompeji’ is the clearest example of this, a staggering number which sees a metal-as-you-like roar of “Jesus Christ” during the chorus before ending on a two-minute ambient outro, the calming sound of waves and gulls helping drift you away. The following 'The Link is Dead' ups the ante, Chino's unhinged delivery during the verses matching the ferocity of man on his debut album, not his ninth.
The previously released title track ends the set; it's frankly slamming riffage helping to create one of the quintet's most accessible songs in years. It stands as a great summation of the band's latest effort, a composition trimmed of all fat, but proudly wearing all the group's experience on its sleeve. At this stage in their career, they have no right sounding this urgent, but like all of us out there, they have a lot to roar about right now.
Where does it stand in their discography? It's hard to say when they've been on a latter-day high, but it'd be fair to say this is their most impactful set of songs since 2010's 'Diamond Eyes.' A must-listen for those who like their metal with depth and mystery.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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