Albums Of The Week

Colourful palette of sounds

Deftones comprise (from left) Sergio Vega, Stephen Carpenter, Chino Moreno, Abe Cunningham and Frank Delgado.
Deftones comprise (from left) Sergio Vega, Stephen Carpenter, Chino Moreno, Abe Cunningham and Frank Delgado.PHOTO: WARNER MUSIC

Metal band Deftones stretch their roots in their sonically dense new album, Gore

American band Deftones are the type of outfit to fully embrace the irony of naming their full-length release Gore, while flamboyant pink flamingoes grace the album cover.

On their eighth album - and their first since former bass player Chi Cheng died of injuries sustained in a car accident in 2013 - the California band stretch their metal/hardcore roots even further.

It is a sonically dense album, no doubt about it.

However, Gore is also a piece of work that is very much coloured by the band's propensity to take unusual turns into shoegaze, dream pop or post-punk territory, while raging riffs courtesy of guitarist Stephen Carpenter pummel in the background and frontman Chino Moreno reaches more into the higher registers.

The falsettos and weaving melodies come early in opening track Prayers/Triangles.

Acid Hologram inspires a gamut of emotions - from exhilaration in the verse-to-hook transition ("You smother me in shapes/In a secret praxis") to unease in the downright creepy growls and down-tuned riffs in the bridge.

  • ALTERNATIVE METAL/ EXPERIMENTAL ROCK

  • GORE

    Deftones

    Reprise

    4/5 stars

Moreno, with still a lot to purge, unleashes plenty of that trademark, screechy rage in tracks such as Geometric Headdress ("Deep in your circle/Trapped in your grace/ Wrapped in your prism walls/We will stay").

He is especially impassioned in Phantom Bride, an ode to emotional denial ("You decided to spend your life/Safe from emotion/ This way, you'll never be harmed again or confused now") leavened with a wistful, bluesy solo courtesy of guest guitarist Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains.

While there is a palpable sense of unease in the dark rhythms and moody atmospherics, Moreno imbues album closer Rubicon with the contentment of a man fully embracing his role in the spotlight ("Take me in/Face the lights/Free yourself and writhe in them").

Deftones' eagerness to experiment - more here than in their back catalogue - is given a fillip by Cheng's replacement, Sergio Vega from post-hardcore stalwarts Quicksand, whose use of a six-string bass is unusual for a metal outfit.

The result is an expanded palette on the bottom end, an enthralling counterpoint to Carpenter's equally unorthodox eight-string guitar swathes.

As they inch closer to their third decade as a band, it can be hard to believe that Deftones were once lumped together with the nu-metal movement of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Their free-thinking music vision and nuanced-filled approach to the genre have helped them outlast their testosterone- overdriven ilk.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2016, with the headline 'Colourful palette of sounds'. Print Edition | Subscribe