Record Review: Deftones Koi No Yokan

image courtesy of loudwire.com

I’ve had a week to get to know the new Deftones record Koi No Yokan and in that time it has done what almost all other Deftones albums have done – it has opened up to me, blossomed into yet another ethereal beauty that quakes with 2 AM fuzz, aquatic shifts in tempo and a tone that is both haunting and beautiful. Lead singer Chino Moreno’s voice is a major part of that haunted quality, and it’s with that in mind that I’d like to open this discussion, because I would argue that Moreno’s voice is quite unlike anyone else’s in the annals of “heavy” music.

Bloodydisgusting.com’s Jonathan Barkan reviewed Koi No Yokan shortly before the album’s release and I’d like to touch on something he said in his musings on the Deftones. In reference to the album’s opening track Swerve City Barkan says, “ Chino’s vocals croon in the verse before soaring sky high in the chorus.” I thought this was an excellent description of not only the vocals on that track or this new album, but in Moreno’s vocals in general. Previous album tracks such as Beware from 2006’s Saturday Night Wrist, Digital Bath from 2000’s White Pony or Sextape from 2010’s Diamond Eyes all showcase Moreno’s ability to make his listeners soar with his vocals, and I’ve long held that along with the atmospheric approach to the guitar and keyboards/samples this is the element of the band’s sound that really helps separate and define them as something different in the world of heavy music.

image courtesy of yawyw.com

 

Themes of soaring, gazing and exploring come to mind often with the Deftones. Koi No Yokan’s second track, Romantic Dreams moves with a dreamy rhythm progression that gives way to big accents that help showcase more of Moreno’s heartfelt, reflective ponderings. Likewise with track eight, Gauze. And it is surely no coincidence that the title of the record translates loosely to: The sense one can have upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love. Differs from “love at first sight” as it does not imply that the feeling of love exists, only the knowledge that a future love is inevitable. (translation courtesy of nootherwordstosay.tumblr.com). The sentiment is perfectly Deftones: synchronicity, longing and a touch of magic.

And then there’s track nine, Rosemary. Wow.

I’ve always thought of the Deftones as having what I would call an “epic wash” to their sound, an abstract grandeur similar to the tone of the first two long-players by the smashing pumpkins; a somatic quality that melts the band’s heavier points into a tide of ethereal emotion, so that even at the most volatile moments the wave breaks and rolls back, often subsiding in something akin to emotional tranquility (See track #10 Goon Squad , White Pony’s Knife Prty or Hexagram on 2003’s self-titled release).

Even the album cover for Koi No Yokan (pictured at the top of this article) fits the album’s sound in a wonderfully synesthetic way. This is  true of most of the group’s releases and related graphical content, which is usually abstract and dreamlike. It’s as though with every album the Deftones get closer to some massive and existential truth, pieces of a greater plane slowly falling off and colliding with our everyday lives via these wonderfully talented musicians.

Thanks guys, keep ‘em coming.

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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