I have always defended the Deftones as not being a stupid nü-metal band (I hate that term) but instead an artistic group that makes amazing music. Some people will most likely say I'm praising them too much and just a fanboy, but seriously, not many musical acts take the risks these guys do and come out still standing.
On first listen, I can safely say that Diamond Eyes is great. It's got the right stuff from the guys I expect, but also some changes too. Deftones are always a band that I look to for great change in musical style and it seems that they've done that this time. The change feels more like a remembrance, and what that means is a step back to their roots. Yeah, I know a lot of bands say things like that, or they present themselves with this idea to try and duplicate their old styles and make similar material, but that usually ends up being complete bollocks. Yes, this album reminds me of moments from their past (Around the Fur, White Pony) but there is much more going for it than just that.
On the opening song, "Diamond Eyes," singer Chino Moreno croons softly over the heavy chugging of guitarist Stephan Carpenter, which isn't anything new, but what makes it powerful is the emotion and sheer force behind it. This isn't a by-the-numbers song, and neither is the rest of the album. No, what it is is music that's immediate and brought to the front. There is power here and you can feel it through every note sung and every note played. The Deftones aren't without their trademark psychedelic/dream pop styles, and you will find this on songs like "Beauty School" and "Sex Tape." Frank Delgado, with his keyboards and turntables, shines through and thoughts of older tracks like "Kim Dracula" and "Digital Bath" come to mind. This is where the Deftones step aside and let their oozing talents speak directly for them. They don't seem afraid to experiment and I can tell a lot of work went into these mentioned songs.
Usually, the best stuff is made through confusion and anger, and reading over their history, this is always prevalent when creating new material. Main songwriter Chino gets a chance to vent his sleazy side too, which is always something to read between the lines. First single, "Rocket Skates" is your best bet for ultimate release: "You're red, soaking red. Let's writhe, let me see you trip." The climax is the main chorus which screams "Guns. Razors. Knives. Fuck with me." I also don't want to forget drummer Abe Cunningham, whose sound is expanded and pounding like Transformers wrestling. The drums are heavy and used to great advantage in the overall ambiance.
Not to forget Sergio Vega of Quicksand fame--the new bassist adds great layers to the already dense and dough boy-thick songs. His bass thumping grooves along and isn't lost in all that's going on. Speaking of what's going on, there is a lot of it. Over the years the Deftones have garnered the strength to expand their sounds from the rough-and-tumble early days, and what you get now is a full band going all out and not sitting in the back. There are elements of shoegaze/post-rock/metal/post-hardcore and I'll even go as far as saying emo (the emo term should be thought of in conjunction with artists who really meant something in that genre and not the usual tripe we all hear today...).
On a final note, I want to mention the cover art. Album artwork use to be a major concentration during the early days, but it seems to be an afterthought in our modern society. To sit and ponder on the art is something I like to do (when it's artistic and not stupid...) and looking over the new Deftones album I'm reminded of my native culture. The owl is thought of as a messenger. The message is usually death. It might be you or someone close. It can go either way. I assume the Deftones didn't pick this through a garbage pile. It was put there for a reason. What can it mean??? Blah blah blah, just a little something to think over.