The one thing you will realize from the very first track is that this album is HEAVY. It seems that The Deftones have replaced the quiet mellow sections of White Pony in favor of heavy metallic guitars. Not to say this is a bad thing. Stephen Carpenter still retains one of the most distinctive styles in modern metal and I still think that his guitar has some of the most dense and full, yet wonderfully clear distortion. But don't be fooled, these heavy sections aren't just stupid two chord nu-metal chuga-chuga style, the guitars hit you with a metallic thud and then fall back with a melodic shimmering after taste that you can't help but fall in love with.
So now by turning up the intensity while still progressing, it should satisfy fans of the heavier Around the Fur era Deftones as well as fans that prefer the mellow experimentation of White Pony.
The album opens with the melodic, yet tortured "Hexagram" where vocalist, Chino Moreno, screams his lungs out at the end of every verse to the point where you would just like him to stop in fear that he will suffer another vocal chord injury.
The second track, "Needles & Pins" begins with probably the most memorable riff on the whole album and even brings back memories of "Adrenaline".
The first single "Minerva" is a swirling, hypnotic anthem that you just can't help but space out and sing along to.
Track number five, "Deathblow", is a welcome departure from the regular Deftones style and really showcases DJ, Frank Delgado's role in the band by adding interesting effects and samples to enchance the mood that are usually neatly hidden in the background. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's like movie special effects, you don't want it popping out going "THIS IS AN EFFECT", the whole purpose is for it to seamlessly pass you by without you noticing it until its gone, which Frank does perfectly.
The next track "When Girls Telephone Boys" is the heaviest and most frightening track on the entire disc. Chino Moreno screams almost the entire song and its very reminiscent of the White Pony track "Elite" except the emotion is changed from sarcastic arrogance to pure anger which is expressed in the stomping guitar and lines like "And I hope we never do meet again!"
For a completely electronic song, "Lucky You" fits right in, and features beats from Team Sleeps DJ Crook and guest vocals by Tinfeds Ray Osburn. The only problem with this track is that it sounds EXACTLY like a team sleep song when I expected more of a mix between the styles of the two bands like on White Pony tracks "Rx Queen" and "Teenager".
The lush and beautiful "Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event" is the most relaxing and mellow thing The Deftones have ever created. With soothing vocals and a piano floating at the front of the mix, this was a very unexpected song to find on this disc of mostly heavy guitars and crooning vocals, yet it all fits and leads well into the epic closer, "Moana".
Now the question remains, is it better than White Pony? Well, only time will tell if the songs on this album will eventually grow on the listener and become classics like the songs on White Pony. But for now, they are too different to compare. White pony was open and mellow while Deftones is denser, heavier and very claustrophobic as the tracks leave less room for mellow sections. Instead, a couple of softer mellow tracks soak up what's missing in the bulk of the album, which in turn leads to a far less balanced album which is the only area where this album falters.
But when you think about it, the album was probably intended to be that way. Dark and scary yet romantic and melodic at which the band succeeds.
So in short, here's a visual comparison of the 2 albums. White Pony: Violent Ocean waves cascading off of jagged rocks and returning to the calm water under a clear night sky. Deftones: The same ocean waves in a dark post-apocalyptic world and under dark thundery rain clouds.
Don't follow? Then buy the album and you'll see what I mean.