by Mansoor Syed
I’d heard of Deftones before, of course — I’m a huge Dance Gavin Dance fan, and one of my favorite all-time songs by them, Caviar, featured Chino Moreno’s (the lead singer of Deftones) vocals — but I’d never really given them a listen until the release of this album. I loved Moreno’s work on that track, so I was excited to hear what Gore would bring.
And I’m slightly disappointed.
Before I dissect the album, I’d like to talk a little bit about Moreno’s voice. In 2001, a year after the release of Deftones’ debut album, Moreno’s left vocal cord was left partially paralyzed and his right vocal cord severely inflamed. That was fifteen years ago — today he is ranked as one of the top 100 metal vocalists of all time. Imagine how much better his voice would be and where he would be ranked if he had not suffered such injuries.
That being said, let’s talk about the album.
Il buono (The Good):
It’s always nice to start off on a good note, yes? The honey and the hatchet — you tell ‘em what you liked and then tell ‘em what you didn’t.
Timbre-wise, the album features a an abundance of melodious tunes and aurally pleasing notework. Clearly, there was thought put into the arrangement of each instrument here; each song was carefully crafted and each instrument made to sync in harmony.
“Prayers/Triangles” is easily my favorite track on the album (and perhaps one of the few songs that has any structure to it, but we’ll get to that in a minute). It flows well, the lyrics are loaded with meaning, and it gives you hope for the rest of the album. The same can be said for “(L)MIRL” and “Phantom Bride”, both very ‘pretty’, dreamy tracks that reflect the early Deftones’ famous style — the one that shot them into stardom.
Il brutto (The Bad):
There’s just no cadence.
Look, I’m an open-minded guy. I like to see the best in everything. But none of these tracks save for the aforementioned few seems to have any footing.
“Doomed User” is an exemplar of what went wrong: it’s chock full of melody and tunes that surge with searing potential, but the transitions between them seem more forced than possible. It almost feels as if the band got together one day and decided they have to finish a really good song by the next day, so they half-assed a few legato/staccato strains and harmonies to link together a couple of impressive tunes they’d come up with and then threw this track on the album. It gives you this thrash metal vibe that rattles you around and echoes in tracks nearby, like “Acid Hologram”. “Geometric Headdress” is particularly exasperating to listen to because it features beautiful musical moments, but they seem so out of place that they’re very difficult to appreciate.
Il cattivo (The Ugly):
I definitely think Deftones could do better. I went back and checked out their other albums — Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan definitely merit a listen — but for the most part, it feels like a very ordinary album. I’m less inclined to listen to Deftones now, and this album is to blame.
I’ve talked to other people, mostly long-time fans of Deftones, and they tell me that they didn’t like the album at first either, but the more they listened to it, the more it grew on them. Some of them even go so far as to claim that with time, it became their favorite album by them. Perhaps that’s true, but I don’t think I’m going to spend any time listening to that album again.