That Deftones were classed as a nu-metal band for however many years is inaccurate enough, but it’s probably stretching it to call them a metal band at all. There’s always been something so much more intricate about how the Sacramento quintet craft their sound, weaving in elements of electronica and trip-hop into their sound above all-out brutality. And on eighth album Gore, they deliver more delay-drenched atmospheric rock at its best.
Like the flock of flamingos that adorns the album’s cover would suggest (and that the actual title is completely at odds with), Gore is an album of immense beauty and elegance. But don’t expect more of the same – guitarist Stef Carpenter’s initial apprehensions about the album is enough to suggest that. Compared to an album like Diamond Eyes, Gore has a fraction of the immediacy and straightforwardness. It sees Deftones at the most languid and experimental that they’ve been for some time, with few – if any – obvious single or radio choices. It’s certainly a grower, eschewing many of the user-friendly tendencies of the previous releases, and thus is hard to get into at first.
But when it hits, the resonance of Gore‘s impact can be felt throughout the entire album’s duration. There’s a heavy atmosphere that weaves its way through these eleven tracks and never lets up. Geometric Headdress smashes together its grinding guitar line with Chino Moreno’s airy vocals, while (L)MIRL transitions from its deep, guitar-and-synth rumble to another expansive canvas, and Phantom Bride sees Alice In Chains’ Jerry Cantrell deliver the only passage of clean guitar work on the entire album.
It’s difficult to put into words the feeling that Gore creates. On one hand, it’s unequivocally a Deftones album – Chino Moreno’s haunting croon is still omnipresent over Stef Carpenter’s grinding buzzsaw riffs and Frank Delgado’s heady beds of swirling electronics. But while the likes of Acid Hologram hark back to the band’s past in its low-slung opening groove, most of Gore feels like a product of cross-pollination with Moreno’s more atmosphere-driven side-projects like Team Sleep. It definitely works well though – the careening passages of elegiac noise and fiery volatility in Doomed User feel like a natural movement, and Rubicon still grinds and churns when exploding into its huge clean melody.
The condensed volume of experimentalism makes Gore a difficult listen, certainly for those not au fait with the world of projects that Deftones are the nucleus of. But with each repeated listen, Gore unfurls itself into a hugely fulfilling and highly immersive experience. But perhaps the most impressive thing about this album is that, for a band eight albums deep and almost three decades old, Gore shows that there’s still a willingness in Deftones to push themselves into unexplored territory. Because, in an age of instant gratification and consuming everything we can get our hands on, Deftones have played the long game with an album that can only be experienced in its invasively encompassing entirety, and one that only gets better with every listen.
For fans of: Team Sleep, Far, Palms
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Gore’ by Deftones is out now on Reprise Records.