on 23 June 2014
The Californian 5-piece had never been of particular interest to me - since their breakthrough in the late 90's with Around the Fur hits - 'My Own Summer' & 'Be Quiet & Drive' - the former being a scream fueled cauldron of anger, constantly shouting "Shove it", the latter showing the opposite with blissfully clean harmonies. These 2 tracks would later revisit me via flicking through music stations, only this time, thanks to the dire quality of music at the time, made an impact. Late to the party? Absolutely, I'd missed out on 4 albums since then, with only one song grabbing my attention mid-way, 'Minerva' - what I believed at the time to be a desolate and drone-like grimace of a metal track. With an open mind, urged on by a need for new sound, (and keen on the super energetic/melodic force of 2010's Diamond Eyes) I acquired Koi No Yokan - which loosely translates along the lines of 'Feeling of Love' or 'Love at First Sight' - An apt reference for the first listen...
BOOM BOOM BOOM RIFFING BOOM BOOM BOOM
Swerve City is a prime example of being quick out the blocks. A thunderous riff that resonates throughout the song, acts as the cornerstone to a furiously brief bit of musicianship for just 2:45. "She breaks her horses" Vocalist, Chino Moreno's first line pays homage to the bands fan favorite early album, White Pony. "..With strange, distant voices - that travel through the air" ends the verses and forces the song onward until it gets to that oddly tranquil guitar interlude. like a ray of light shone onto a down and dirty song. Track no.2 would always struggle to top that, but Romantic Dreams offers a whole new experience. 2 minutes longer, the pace has slowed with a rolling guitar tab, trailing back and fourth. "So why wait to discover your dreams? Now here's your chance" breaks things up however the chorus of 'I- I'm hypnotized by your name/I- I wish this night would never end" is a third sumptuous part of a mixed up song.
Shedding your skin, showing your texture...
Before this album was released, the track Leathers was used to promote it with a striking image of a heart undergoing Angiography. Besides the hauntingly pretty visual for the single, the song goes one further with a drawn out intro of bristling guitar notes - eradicated by brute force at 39 seconds. Chino's visceral lyrics are amplified by his sheer deliverance - "You're cutting your ties, now and forever, time to let everything outside you". The verses purely build up constantly with massive slides and the odd chug, but it all comes down to that meaty chorus - probably the most energetic song on the album - it's one to check out - if you can tolerate it, you can manage the whole album. Poltergeist has an unusual introduction of oddly timed clapping - culminating to complete loudness. The song itself though is one of the slightly weaker ones.
Entombed's divine introduction needed a title, and there it is, played on G, full of simplistic tapping and pull-offs. This is the kind of song that proves that even guitar driven, metalcore music hidden away from public radio, can be genuinely romantic. "From the day you arrived, I've remained by your side - in chains, entombed." Poetry. Ultra funky drum fillers, bridge the gaps between verse and chorus, along with an irresistible synth effect I can only describe as some sort of Paris-eloping-electro. The hard-hitting lyrics are reason enough to recommend new listeners - "Shades of colors are all I see.. Shapes of colors are all I feel". Graphic Nature returns the sound back to the norm, similar to 'Poltergeist', it boasts strong chords and sinister sounding vocals, "I'm aware of the demons, that you've tucked away. I like to watch you release them". It's the kind of song you'd raise an eyebrow to - if you're feeling it.
This one took time to grow on me, partially because it's one of the longest songs at over 6 minutes. The vocals have always been impressive up to this point, but now they take on a new level intensity that doesn't require screaming or the odd 'WOO'. "Turning in circles, been caught in a stasis" demands you close your eyes and nod along. "I'd like to be taken apart from the inside, then spit through the cycle right to the end". It has bits of everything Deftones are all about; moody vocals, grinding guitars and harsh truth lyrics. Gets better the more you listen, as does its climax. Gauze is harsh in both guitar and vocal, but the delicious bass shines through for its first real stand out moment. Some of the vocal harmonies may grate at first, but if you've got this far already, it wont be a deterrent.
The longest of all the songs due to both build up and fantastical outro, this is Deftones at the pinnacle. Grungey guitar interrupting a sweep melody that returns in flutters throughout. The dreamy lyrics are written like a poem, in layout and content - "Our minds bend and our fingers fold. Entwined, we dream" hallucinogenic in word and sound. "We slow down as the engines stall. Our eyes catch sea. Explode" vivid imagery propelled by purposeful noise. Goon Squad is the albums final heavy track. At this point its worth mentioning that although the technical aspects of the songs - especially the guitars - aren't ground breaking, they are well put together, befitting the mood as they tend to swirl and repeat into a solid platform for the real star, Chino, to do his thing. What Happened To You? closes the album in style - experimental percussion and amplifier feedback gracefully play behind a falsetto vocal. "We’re alive somewhere else. Still asleep someplace new. We’re ahead of our time. Floating through" is the first round of a daydreaming chorus, gaining more momentum for a second go - "The sky is falling down. The night is calling you. A star is burning out. The sky belongs to you." an ultimate finale to what rapidly became my personal, album of the year (2012).
There aren't many times in life when you can sit down and take time to listen to something you initially thought was rubbish, even less so when you are proven wrong in the most spectacular of fashion - it's not very easy either. So I shall close by saying that this is one worth breaking away from the usual mainstream sound and giving a genuine chance, because its impact is significant, it's sound, phenomenal.