Deftones – ‘Ohms’

By Liam Knowles

Deftones burst onto the scene in 1995 with their debut album ‘Adrenaline’, and have been one of the biggest bands in alternative music ever since. They’re a band that people respect even if they aren’t fans, largely because they’ve always forged their own path and have never allowed themselves to get mired in passing musical trends like a lot of their peers have over the years. Their consistency is pretty much unrivalled; if you asked 100 people to put their eight studio albums in order of preference, you’d likely get every possible answer at least once, depending on what each individual looks for in a Deftones record. So where does ninth album ‘Ohms’ fit in to such an intimidating pantheon?

Opener ‘Genesis’ creeps in with a swarming synth that makes way for a soft, delayed guitar line, before an extremely satisfying feedback / stick-click combo leads us into a crushing downtuned riff. Inimitable vocalist Chino Moreno sounds ferocious, flitting between a scorching scream, a disembodied croon, and a full blown soaring chorus with ease. His screamed vocals in particular sound more raw and strained than we’ve had from a Chino performance in a long time, which only adds to the overall intensity.

While this album won’t have too many surprises for the more seasoned Deftones fan, ‘Ohms’ is a thoroughly enjoyable journey, traversing every single influence that Deftones draw from and visiting almost every era of their sound at one point or another. ‘Ceremony’ is full shoegaze, with Sergio Vega’s penetrative basslines holding together the blown-out sound, ‘Utrantia’ features some of the most straight-up metal riffs that guitarist Steph Carpenter has ever produced, and ‘Pompeji’ is a sombre, almost gothic affair interspersed with booming low frequency guitar tones. The latter half of the record revisits the band’s early days, with both ‘This Link Is Dead’ and ‘Radiant City’ harking back to ‘Adrenaline’ / ‘Around The Fur’ era-Deftones; a more frantic, scrappy, incalculable beast than the careful, considered creature they’ve grown into over the years.

The closing double-whammy of ‘Headless’ and title track ‘Ohms’ is the perfect way to close this record; the former coming in like a shoegaze Cult Of Luna and the latter being a swirling prog-rock song with Rush-esque riffs and an infectious sense of groove. This closing track was an odd choice as the lead single for the album as it’s not as immediate as some of the others (‘Genesis’ is the closest thing on this album to a ‘Rocket Skates’, for example), but it makes far more sense in the context of the album as a whole.

Overall it’s difficult to say where this ranks in terms of the band’s discography because, once again, they’ve just made a fantastic Deftones record. It will likely sit around the middle for a lot of people – it’s so reflective of their whole range of sounds that at times it feels a bit like a greatest hits album rather than a cohesive record, but it’s still a more interesting album than most bands half their age can manage. This variety in sound might actually make it the perfect place to start for someone looking to get into Deftones, covering so much ground there’s bound to be something in here for all fans of alternative music. A quarter of a century after their debut, Deftones are nine for nine and showing no signs of slowing down.

LIAM KNOWLES

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