Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Reprise Records 2012
When the Deftones returned from Chi Cheng‘s accident in 2010 with “Diamond Eyes“, it was hard not to empathize with the healing process they were weathering. For once it felt as though the band had been able to put aside their own creative desires and work together as a singular entity.
But even when faced with a bigger purpose; some of the more abrasive songs on that record demonstrated that not every member of the outfit was in the same stage of coming to terms with the tragedy that befell them.
“Koi No Yokan” is the light at the end of the tunnel. It finds the group emerging on the other side with an intoxicating level of acceptance and appreciation. A warm wave of an album where each band member is seemingly humbled by just how far they’ve come—both career wise and as human beings.
This newfound respect guides the outfit through a collection of what is perhaps their most darkly melancholic songs to date. But just because the sharper edges have been ground down doesn’t mean the album won’t leave a mark.
Where this opus distinguishes itself is through its sense of reflection. There’s a very discernible air of formative influences at play, especially in Chino Moreno‘s vocals. For through his emotive hooks visions of The Cure, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran are all conjured.
But it’s not just him taking a step back. The roaming lush guitar work is more post-rock texture than riff based lunges; while subdued electronic soundcapes create full-on environments rather than lingering atmosphere. It’s in the meaty bass lines and crisp percussion that the songs gain their sense of tangible weight and friction.
Such an immediate lack of grit and tormented screeches may disappoint some; but the group quickly make up for the perceived lack of outward heaviness with an intoxicating sense of density. Almost all of the songs convey a rapturous sense of emotion. One that finds the burden of past regrets buoyed by the promise of future amends. No more evident is this quality in the music than the mindset of Moreno. The sense of kindred spirits and future love to come reflected by the albums title is not just a clever catchphrase.
For love is the very definition of what “Koi No Yokan” seems intent on expressing. The lyrical content may be somewhat esoteric; but Moreno—who was married earlier this year—is clearly in a state of bliss and his happiness is what nurtures the songs to sonic fruition. That’s not to say he blubbers on of matters of the heart though, so much as he is almost always expressing himself with a uplifting sense of positivity.
Even with the rampant dreamy melodicism there are still some highlights for fans of the Deftones‘ meatier excursions however. “Goon Squad” may not have the wrenched wails, but the barreling riff that drags it along is still deliciously crunchy. “Leathers” also finds the band at their smoldering best. While “Gauze” pits a characteristically chunky riff against shrill electronic underpinnings and a heart melting chorus.
Through and through “Koi No Yokan” is the most endearing of the bands discography. Removed from the butting of heads and the ego-driven pissing contests; its unified vision represents growth both sonically and spiritually for a band previously mired in conflict.
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