I consider myself a fairly well-rounded musician: I’m equally happy studying an Antonio Carlos Jobim chart as a Stravinsky ballet or a Dillinger Escape Plan song. And over the last 10 years, Deftones have somehow kept me hooked. I was drawn in by the raw emotion of “Adrenaline,” then the too-slick-for-its-own-good sound of “Around the Fur.” Then “White Pony” caught me blindsided with an album filled to the brim with mysterious, beautiful and catchy songs. But then there was the self-titled album, which just felt sort of aimless, and never really gripped me. To be honest, I thought I was too old to rock, and didn’t even know if I would purchase “Saturday Night Wrist.”
But what a great purchase it was! This album shows a Deftones that has matured both as people and as musicians. The thing that made them so unique–dark, heavy riffs and intricate, stylish drumming underneath hauntingly beautiful melodies–is really brought to light on the album. Clear examples of this unique style are: “Hole in the Earth,” “Beware,” “Cherry Waves,” “Xerces,” and “Riviere.”
But even the heavy songs like “Combat” and “Kimdracula” hit their marks well, not to mention the brilliant “Rats, Rats, Rats.” The surprise of the album is definitely “Pink Cellphone,” which, at certain points, sounds like it fell off a Peter Gabriel album. (And the ending IS funny, but like all jokes, the humor wears off after you hear it a few times. Eventually, you skip that part of the tune, and wish they’d just cut it out to begin with). In my opinion, the only real uninspired track is “Mein,” which–to me–just sounds like one of those songs that ‘isn’t quite there’ so you throw as many tricks at it as you can, and in the end, still just isn’t all that good of a song.
Every Deftones album takes a few listens all the way through to really be appreciated. This one is no exception. After a while, you start noticing Abe Cunningham’s flashy ghost notes tossed in all over the place, where before all you heard was heavy banging. You start noticing that Stephen Carpenter is playing far less power chords, and more counter-melody. You start noticing that Frank Delgado is a great addition, and some of those keyboard and ambient parts really bring the songs together. And finally, you notice that you’re singing along with Chino, and you think, “Man, these are some strange melodies.” I don’t know if he knows he’s doing it, but Chino has a real gift for coming up with melodies with all sorts of awkward intervals, and unpredictable chord tones (major 7ths and 9ths abound, among others).
My only complaint about the album is the same complaint I have for all new rock albums: it’s mixed too loud, and some parts distort (that aren’t intended to). It’s a shame they dropped Terry Date for this album, but if it got them out of the slump of the self-titled album, it was completely worth it! Bless those Deftones. There really is nothing else like them!