Friday, 9 October 2020

Deftones "Ohms" (2020)

How is it that after a handful of spins, these ten new tracks feel like songs you've know for years? With each record Deftones pivot to a new shade of sound, a fresh take on a decades spanning identity. Title track and lead single Ohms flags the new direction as the group lean deep into their Shoegaze era inspirations. Its almost misleading as the most ambitious number to emphasize Steven Carpenter's riffing direction, now utilizing a nine string guitar yet he can't help but drift into classic groove laden chugs on half of these songs. They sway, cushioned below the hazy rising sun of Chino's sleepy voice entangled with ever present light airy synths that permeate the unique atmosphere of this stunning album, the bands ninth in a string of successes.

Opening with Genesis, eerie saw wave synths stir soft tensions as dreamy, sombre acoustics paint reoccurring colors to the canvas. In a moments notice it gives way to the slam of Steven's Djent tonality with the intensity dialed to the forefront. The synth remains, as it does throughout the record, sustaining a soft, warm haze that will in turn blossom many beautiful moments when barraging distortion riffs give way. Its the temperament of Chino's swooning voice that feels crucial to the swaying. Their musical chemistry never needs selling though his soaring cries to softer breathy speaking hits a home run, gluing it all together with a charm that never fades.

 On Urantia his inflections and pitch have an uncanny resemblance to Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins. With so many shared commonalities and parallels in music its actually remarkable how little of the record conjures thoughts of other artists. And yet still across its ten songs there is much diversity, especially when they deviate from norms as the guitar direction feels intentionally more explorative. When attune experimentation flourishes, the singular, textural synths often shine. Error is simply magical, no thanks to the spellbinding drone of its spooky swirling oscillation.

Its a particularly strong moment as it transitions into the albums best, The Spell Of Mathematics. Initially a sludgy slug fest of low end noise, the creepy synths break for esoteric interludes that eventually culminate with Chino ushering a ravishing warmth from its unsettled, chilling atmosphere. The composition highlights a strange tone Ohms posses. Its a foot a two realms, finding limbo as all that's glossy and gorgeous is in constant friction with an ominous, faceless lurching presence. Dark, chilling yet far from danger or evil it carves a place that feels like a lonely wandering dream.

Working with Terry Date, the production is no doubt a marvel. Crisp, clear instruments with depth, fidelity and character meet on a stage fit for straight forward music capable of blooming into dense walls of magical sound. Abe Cunningham continues to impress as he houses not only the monstrous grooves but the flushes where Deftones step further from their tradition. Early on in the record I feel like we hear far more of his creativity, deeper in its a little routine. The baselines too, often an undercurrent, play a roll, livening up much of the music with its added power in the dense mixture.

The Deftones have a deep authentic chemistry. Taking care and time with each record there is simply no denying their execution. Ohms is inspired, interesting and mesmerizing when your locked in. Its best comes from texture and atmosphere, the heavy persuasion a familiar one that works best when pinned in by the synths, Frank Delgado really gave this record a special edge. The one dimension I all too often miss out on is lyrics. Many of the lines I did catch onto felt artistic and poetic, I'm sure a read of the lyric sheet is worth while. That will be on the "to do" list for now and so will this record as I'll continue to binge for some time, no doubt!

Rating: 9/10