Deftones’ “Gore” is an ambient, metal masterpiece

Deftones - Gore - Promo

“The highly anticipated follow-up to the band’s last album, Koi No Yokan, is nothing but sheer bliss as the maturity of the band is prevalent throughout the whole album, whilst also retaining the heavy and aggressive nature of their music they’ve so carefully made a name of over the past 20 years.” – Matt Saunders (Concert Crap Photographer/Staff Writer).

Deftones have come a long way since their debut release of Adrenaline in 1995. Twenty years later, the band is still raising the bar high and turning heads, only this time around, it is not in the same angst-filled nature of the 90s’, but rather, in a more mature and melodic nature.  Gore is the most quintessential release from the band to date, as it blends a very “emotionally rich” form of ambient music mixed together with progressive rock/blues influences.

“Prayers/Triangles” is the not only the first track off the album, but it was also the first single featured and released to the public as well.  Many responded in passionate and positive manner.  This necessarily wasn’t the case with the album’s second single.

“Doomed User” is a song that has deep root influences from the genres of progressive rock and djent compared to “Prayers/Triangles” that features a mixture of ambient tones mixed with a familiar “Deftones tonality” (think Around the Fur meets Koi No Yokan.)  Not only were the two singles almost at a night and day difference, but there also existed a minority of fans who were in a unanimous decision that frontman Chino Moreno’s vocals “sounded off” in “Doomed User”.

While the vocal feel and fans’ definition of the word “off” may be debated, the fact of the matter is both singles are well crafted compositions that showcase the two major characteristics that make Gore the album it is.

In a recent interview, Moreno confirmed that all the “heavy elements” off the album were written by Deftones lead guitarist Stephen Carpenter.  The more ambient sounds off the record (that were not electronically produced) were written by Moreno, in addition to the album’s lyrics and vocal melodies.  It is no wonder why these ambient guitar progressions were beautifully crafted when fans take into account Moreno’s side projects: Crosses, Team Sleep and Palms, as these musical ventures all share similar ambient styles that are found throughout Gore.

The two distinct writing styles acted as a double-edged sword on this release. It can feel at times one style is trying to dominate the other for presence on the tracks. Take for example one of the most gorgeous songs Deftones has ever written, Phantom Bride.  The introduction is phenomenal as the “dotted eighth note delayed guitar progression” brings a strong, three dimensional presence that draws in the attention of the listener.  The energies and melodies build onto each other until just right before the conclusion of the song.  When the song is about to end, the progression randomly changes to a saturated, high gain guitar riff that is playing a very rhythmic progression in the lower register.

This is not to say that the styles conflicting with one another is necessarily a bad thing.  This is where the other part of the “double-edged sword” metaphor comes into play.  Although it can be distracting for some listeners and leave others confused, it can also be perceived as beautiful as one style morphs into another, then morphs back and so on and so forth.

What was also another drawback for this release was the mixing and mastering.  This album had some of the band’s best material written to date, however, it seems it wasn’t “showcased” in this light after considering how the final product was released.

To simplify this opinion as to how the levels of audio sounded on Gore, it feels like the heavy parts of the album were dulled down and, at times, feels like it lacks dynamics overall.  It is ironic to think about when one takes into account that dynamics is what makes Deftones the band that they are.  It would also seem that this situation of the final mix shouldn’t have even been a problem in the first place, since the band is on a major label that many would assume would want the best sounding album made for consumers.

No album is without its flaws, but once the tiny nuisances are bypassed, it’s clear to see that a lot of time and effort went into making this record into a musical masterpiece. Deftones is not the same band as it was more than 20 years ago. Change (not in the “House of Flies”) can be a good thing for many artists, however, it seems as if all these years of writing music, touring, and enriching the band members’ horizon helped elevate them into this juggernaut of a band that continues to break the glass ceiling and set new goals and inspirations for artists of all ages and musical backgrounds.

If Gore is not deemed “Album of the Year” for 2016, it will surely find a place to call home in the top releases of 2016.

  1. Prayers/Triangles
  2. Acid Hologram
  3. Doomed User
  4. Geometric Headdress
  5. Hearts/Wires
  6. Pittura Infamante
  7. Xenon
  8. (L)MIRL
  9. Gore
  10. Phantom Bride (w/Jerry Cantrell)
  11. Rubicon

 

Post by Matthew Saunders

What are your thoughts on Gore?  Comment below.

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