Deftones - Gore (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Gore (2016)

warner Bros.

Deftones have always been a different kind of beast. Timeless, engaging and riddled with intensity. So good that even their weaker material stands a cut above the rest. They've been through a rough couple years, dealing with loss and re-energizing that passion that lit the '90s and 2000s up; and in the face of all this adversity, they've overcome. Resoundingly. I likened them to a relentless animal and as Gore reiterates, it's a raging bull. Running at you full-steam ahead, seeing red and gutting you. This album is testament to the trials and tribulations they've endured and more so, how they've risen up. 

It'll always be so tough to compare to the best of Deftones, which for me circulate around Around The Fur and White Pony. All their albums, no matter your preference take a life of their own, and that's something I can appreciate. And which Gore does in spades, addressing the turmoil and survival of the band with Chino Moreno at his best vocally. Not to mention, brutally candid and vulnerable in terms of songwriting. For every dissonant chord, Chino finds his voice calmly swimming through harmony. For every heavy breakdown, he finds a breath in a melodic lull. 21 years and they're alive and kicking as the opening "Prayers/Triangles" indicates. It kickstarts the record to life, walking the tightrope of 1997 and what they pushed forth on through Koi No Yokan. With each album, they transcended the nu-metal scene, not by throwing out the rule-book but by rewriting. Sergio Vega's six-string bass and Abe Cunninghams's more spaced out work on the kit highlight this as they push their sonic limits. This opener in particular scorches at you with guitars that dance in between sweet, sweet bliss and a loud agitation that reminds you why they are who they are. Especially when Chino throws in some growls. "Acid  Hologram" and "Doomed User" follow in the same vein, becoming more personal in lyrics and much more aggressive in sound. 

Chino starts to let loose a bit more menacingly around the latter which was something I needed because too much clean vocals from Chino, just isn't Chino. And when he returns to the drawn-out and background vibe on the mic, you just love the dynamic they lay down more and more. Great contrast, solid balance as seen on "Hearts/Wires" -- one of the record's cleanest and musically poetic jams. He cuts like a razor as the track picks up reminding you how much of a trip, how much emotional mysticism Deftones plug into their music.  "Pittura Infamante" follows up with a sludgy sound that fans of Floor and Torche would love. Jarring to say the least. Chino also flexes his vocal range a lot here which feels like Diamond Eyes a bit. The record loses steam in the middle a bit but quickly returns from the dreamlike/ethereal picture painted through the title-track. Synth beats washed away by Chino's screams and some hard-hitting drums, further demonstrating how potent they can be when they deviate from the script. I never expected a track like this given the various tones of what comes before but it's a great bridge into the closing tracks, which to me are the strongest. 

"Phanton Bride" (featuring an Alice In Chains legend) and "Rubicon" are some of their most chaotically beautiful tracks to date. By the time Gore ends, it's clear Deftones are never scared of the unknown. Always willing to explore new frontiers. They've advanced past where I thought they'd be when I got cynical a couple years ago and I'm proud to see where they are. Fearless, kicking down doors still and taking every avenue available and possible to remain a band that sets the bar for everyone to reach.