Sunday, 11 November 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Deftones - Koi No Yokan (2012)

Artist: Deftones
Album: Koi No Yokan
Label: Reprise
Genre: Alternative metal
Length: 51.50

The seventh album from Sacramento's finest alternative metal band has arrived and in a similar vein to 2010's expansive Diamond Eyes. Very much a sister piece to Diamond Eyes (partly down to Chi Cheng's absence, still recovering from a near fatal car accident), Koi No Yokan is a conflicted monster of an album, the quiet melodic grace and beauty is in constant battle with the grinding guitar riffs of Stephen Carpenter and blind fury of Chino Moreno's scowls. The band has found the perfect place between the contrasting sounds of metal and alternative and it is Koi No Yokan.

Deftones are definitely survivors. After six albums filled with multi-platinum highs and internal/personal lows, the band continues to mature and have come back even stronger with a progression in their artistic style and Koi No Yokan is the culmination of this artistic redefining and is an unrepentant success. From the infectious opening riff of 'Swerve City' to the slow burn finale of 'What Happened To You?', the group display an intricate skill for mixing elegantly complex lyrical verses with Carpenter's heavy alternative metal guitar riffs that are backed up by Chino's varied vocal delivery. With any other singer, a lot of the tracks on Koi No Yokan would fail miserably, but with Chino's assured delivery and outstanding vocal range (which varies from hauntingly beautiful to loudly violent and intimidating) it makes the album a resounding success. 

What stands out most on early listens to Koi No Yokan is the tender and melodic tracks like 'Romantic Dreams', 'Entombed', 'Rosemary' and the aforementioned 'What Happened To You?'. This softer sound is much more prevalent than on their previous records and presents a more intimate and personal side of the band than possibly ever seen before. An album stand-out is 'Entombed', lead guitarist Carpenter's intimate and sweeping riff mixed with Chino's ability to balance the melodies with reaching the high notes. 

The album's first single 'Leathers', much like Diamond Eyes opening single 'Rocket Skates' and very similar in style and set-up is a decent advertisement for the album's broad sound and is very much the vintage Deftones sound. Containing heavy riffs, an epic chorus and top notch production values (again from Nick Raskulinecz), it's a good, solid rocker. The second single from the album, 'Tempest', is a different beast altogether. Clocking in at over six-minutes long, it is an epic slow builder with Chino's melodic delivery met with some top grinding from Carpenter. This is one of the more progressive songs on the album and is a joy and was a great choice for the second single.

For fans of the bands more heavy side, there is plenty to find on Koi No Yokan with tracks like 'Swerve City', Poltergeist' and 'Gauze' fill the quota to varying degrees of success. 'Swerve City' is a fantastic opener to the album, with a strong and stand-out guitar work from Carpenter to match Chino's ever impressive howl. 'Poltergeist' is by far the heaviest song on the album, and is an onslaught of heavy riffing and ominous vocals from Chino. 'Gauze' is a good solid rocker, but is one of the lesser songs in context of the whole album.

So far, so good, right? It gets better. The album's 9th track and centrepiece song, the near-seven minute long 'Rosemary', will go up there with the finest efforts in the band's long career. Describing this song as epic is an understatement. It is a layered, sprawling effort, with lavish production and a heavenly sound. It becomes clear at this point, that the Deftones are a band at the peak of their creative powers, a band on a creative roll who has reinvented themselves as an important band in the rock landscape. 'Rosemary' is this albums crowning achievement. 

The album closer, 'What Happened To You?' finishes the album on a perfect note. Similar to the sound found on their 2011 album Covers, 'What Happened To You?' sounds unlike a Deftones song. That is what makes it a success. A group willing to broaden their musical range and that is what Koi No Yokan is undoubtedly about, artistic progression. What started with Diamond Eyes has reached its peak here. 

Koi No Yokan is an unprecedented success. The group's seventh album builds on everything good in their previous efforts and adds a new dimension of layered sound and expands on the melodic sounds hinted at in Diamond Eyes and their previous efforts. It is refreshing that a band that has been around for so long is not afraid to evolve and refine their style without completely losing their trademark sound, Deftones have managed this with considerable success and acclaim. This album is broad and expansive with great variety and substance to it and a contender for album of the year.

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