Note to self: Do not listen to Deftones’ newest album at the public library for the first time. Not unless you want to imagine yourself tossing books and toppling shelves one minute, and then almost bawling your eyes out in front of unaware patrons the next.
When I found the package in my mail this afternoon, I tore it open to gingerly withdraw Koi No Yokan, the seventh album by the superior metal band Deftones. Ever since Diamond Eyes first graced my ears with its seriously heavy riffs and even heavier themes of sex and altruism, I looked toward the future of this Sacramento-based band, wondering if they could go even higher. Turns out they left plenty of space to soar.
Koi No Yokan fires up with “Swerve City,” in which relentless guitar riffs bolster Chino’s dynamic voice: one second it clamors, the next it moans with a mature sexuality. She tames me with her voices, as she plays around with her forces. Riding in on the opener’s waves, “Romantic Dreams” practically saunters into your ears with its warbling guitar notes, which almost overshadow Moreno’s message about the perfect night never ending. The hypnotic opening of “Leathers” precludes another heavy-hitting song with a lyrical rebelliousness that long-standing Deftones fans will appreciate: This is your test, come forth, confess! Extend your tongue, speak out, go on shedding your skin. “Poltergeist” comes clapping in before Chino hammers out a sinister credo toward someone who played dumb with him. I can’t imagine people pissing this guy off.
Much like in Diamond Eyes and their self-titled album, Deftones know how to shift your mood faster than your own brain realizes. Such is the affect of “Entombed,” a brooding shoegaze song that is as raw as the desire to be simultaneously closer to and worlds apart from someone. On the day you arrived, I became your device…to name and soothe. Placed inside, safe and sound. Dreamy and pleading, it is easily the most emotional song on the album.
“Graphic Nature” will most likely appeal to those who like a little hip-hop in their heavy metal, and also hearkens back to Team Sleep. “Temptest” was the first official single for Koi No Yokan, and it sums up the album with finesse. Dirty and dark with sexuality, it certainly “should be ripe.” Ready for another serving of grating guitar chords? “Gauze” has you covered. Speaking of Team Sleep, I kept expecting Mike Patton to join in with Chino on “Rosemary,” which is rife with dreamy discontent. It’s hard not to be hypnotized by lyrics like We slow down as the engine stalls. Our eyes catch sync…explode.
In what I like to call the final act, “Goon Squad” immerses you in an ethereal dream of electronic warbling, until the song cuts into you with sheer barbarity. While Chino, Abe, and company seem to have become fond of soothing endings, “What Happened to You?” stills manages to plow toward a satisfying conclusion with Chino’s existential lyrics: We’re alive somewhere else, still asleep someplace new. Far ahead of our time now, floating through. That self-awareness is the fitting exclamation point to this sea-deep emotional flight.
Deftones know what it means to suffer. Stephen Carpenter was struck by a car while skateboarding, the band was almost torn apart by internal strife during Saturday Night Wrist, and bassist Chi Cheng clung to life after a car accident left him in a coma back in late 2008 . Fortunately, Chino and his bandmates have learned how to convert that agony into music that invites future love and introspection.
Now go topple some bookshelves.