Deftones Have Never Sounded So Consistently Heavy – or Focused – as They Do with Pummeling New Album ‘Ohms’


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Rock Cellar Magazine
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I have no patience now for expectation, screams vocalist Chino Moreno toward the end of “This Link is Dead,” a track toward the end of the new Deftones album Ohms. The line doubles as a charged lyric in a song in which he also screams I’m filled up with true hatred and as a rallying cry for his band, which for years has navigated the perilous line between its own creative vision and what its fan base wants — or, more to the point, expects.

(Click here to purchase a copy of Ohms from our Rock Cellar Store).

For even the most critical and dedicated Deftones enthusiasts, however, there’s little to dislike about Ohms, perhaps the most “Deftones-ish” Deftones album to date. That they released a record this good 20 years after their groundbreaking, genre-busting 2000 opus White Pony, speaks volumes about the band. It’s probably no coincidence that the band worked with White Pony producer Terry Date for this one, either.

Released on Friday, Ohms is the Sacramento-based alt/metal band‘s ninth studio album … and, perhaps, its most consistently aggressive. For a band known for its distinctive, unique musical approach, one that has outlived the “rap/metal” landscape from which it originated, that’s quite a surprising takeaway, but it’s true.

Previous albums featured forays into slower, more spaced-out material (such as 2016’s Gore), but Ohms remains on track with its goal, presenting the band’s core elements — Moreno’s howls and shrieks and thick, pummeling riffs from guitarist Stephen Carpenter — nearly nonstop. (Fun fact: Carpenter used a nine-string guitar for parts of this record).

“Genesis,” one of two pre-release singles that opens the album, was an attention-grabbing preview from the band that set the (def)tone:

Some of Deftones’ most affecting songs have a haunting, cataclysmic feel to them, and those feelings come up abundantly while listening to Ohms.

On the twisting and turning “Ceremony,” Moreno warns

How can’t you see
This is the end
Let’s face the truth
It’s obvious

Before the song lurches into a midsection of ethereal guitar and whispery vocal effects, the unease of the track’s unpredictable structure matching Moreno’s apocalyptic lyrics. It’s a clear distillation of Deftones’ strongest qualities packed into three and a half minutes of hushed fury.

The other material on Ohms finds Moreno, Carpenter, drummer Abe Cunningham, bassist Sergio Vega and Frank Delgado (keys, samples) sounding as cohesive a creative force as they have in a while, glimpses of earlier material peeking through every now and then.

“Urantia” utilizes subtle synth behind its staccato riffs, “Error” lands somewhere between 2000’s White Pony and 2006’s Saturday Night Wrist, Carpenter’s guitar drives “Pompeji” along its dark lyrical track (Jesus Christ, you watch us fail/We raise our glasses and drink in hell), and so on.

“The Spell of Mathematics,” an easy standout, casts notes of beauty amid overwhelming darkness, the music alternating between crushingly heavy guitar tones and clean passages as Moreno switches between screams and whispers …

The snakes come pouring out of your heart
And you know that I can’t deny them
So I sink inside where we writhe and create
That feeling that pangs my time with you

… before the song’s drawn-out final two minutes bring the energy back down to a groove between Vega, Cunningham and a finger-snap.

The closest thing this album has to a track like “Sextape” or “Digital Bath,” notable mid-tempo Deftones songs from earlier records, is “Headless,” the penultimate track on Ohms, but even it has a digging heaviness lurking beneath the surface, synth again providing a dreamy backdrop.

The album closes with its title track, the first song released from Ohms, and a track that works better in context than it did on its own as it wraps up the proceedings with an exclamation point.

Deftones have remained a remarkably consistent band over the years. Despite attempting new things and applying tweaks to the formula along the way, the band has always found a way to retain its individuality. Nobody else sounds like Deftones, and Deftones don’t sound like anybody else.

That’s as true as ever with Ohms, one of the strongest albums the band has released thus far in its storied career.

Stream it below, either as a visual album experience:

Or via Spotify:


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