Isn’t it strange to think that out of the smorgasbord of tripe that came out of the 90s nu-metal battery farm; out of the countless forgettable experiments in rap/screaming; that one band could make such a mark as to rise out of that less-than-favourable branding and remain one of the more interesting outfits currently working in the alt-rock milieu? Deftones, Saturday Night Wrist aside, have pretty much made lavish indie atmospherics and spacey, guttural electronica pairing well with angular metal a thing their own since Around The Fur – latest effort Gore simply solidifies that their one-time contemporaries should have been paying closer attention. Well, except maybe Linkin Park, with regard to their SUBLIME pairing with Jay Z of some years ago.
Anyway, back to Deftones’ unlikely staying power and solid, if not commanding turn of new music in Gore. What’s interesting from the off is that Chino’s voice has an intense, new vitality to it. Sadly, long gone are the drawn-out, morphine-flecked curdles of ‘Change’ or ‘Pink Maggit’, or even the breathy vibrance heard at times on Koi Yo Nokan, but like a fine wine, Moreno’s vocals have aged incredibly well and retain a welcome, signature kick. This is perhaps most apparent on ‘Prayers/Triangles’ and ‘Hearts/Wires’ – tracks that are brimming too with Carpenter’s crushing, ethereal guitar lines and Cunningham’s intensive percussion.
It’s noteworthy too that recent-ish addition Sergio Vega, brought in after Chi Cheng’s tragic accident had left him near comatose for four years, has found his rhythm and sonic relationship with his bandmates – ‘Rubicon’ and ‘Geometric Headdress’ prime examples of his dexterity with the six-stringed bass. An odd pairing comes in the form of ‘Phantom Bride’, though, as Jerry Cantrell (he of Alice In Chains – we salute you) steps in to provide guitar support. The result is fine, but doesn’t add much to Carpenter’s already deft textures and slugging closing riff, other than a nod to Dirt era AIC. ‘Doomed User’ is a standout moment – heaving riffs and barks of despair merge in a track worthy of Adrenaline.
Alas, it’s difficult to enjoy Gore without thinking back to practically every other release in Deftones’ career and wishing for elements of each to be portrayed here, now, but it’s this kind of thinking that Moreno and co. have done a great deal of moving on from, and it’s this kind of thinking that is the critical quandary. As a result, Gore becomes their most forward thinking record since White Pony. That’s certainly a cause for celebration because it’s done so well here, but, you can’t help but feel a little disappointed that they’ve gone and brought a gun to a knife party.