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As old hands in the alternative metal genre, you might expect Deftones to have little to offer. After all, how can a band formed over twenty years ago possibly bring us something new?
Deftones are a band, more than anything, who have weathered the gradual erosion in popularity that comes with changing tastes over time by adapting. As such, Diamond Eyes is an album of artful contradiction, deftly mixing the (comparatively) tame – ‘Beauty School’ sits placidly among the other tracks of the album as a light- rock intermission- with the band’s traditional, angsty style.
With their new album, Deftones have swooped in and blended the potentially incompatible genres of heavy rock, alternative metal and a strain of pop rock with deceptive ease, and as such make an effort to shuck the confines that come with their established style. This, though, is an issue which manifests itself frequently in Diamond Eyes. While the band’s expertise may have convinced us that a hybrid of various genres is attainable, a certain amount of friction still exists between the various tracks on the album.
‘Diamond Eyes’ opens the album as a surprisingly aggressive yet heartfelt track, slipping easily back into the band’s too-long vacated niche in the alternative metal genre. ‘This Place is Death’ ,then, becomes a departure piece as the band moves from jagged vocals to a style with both more depth but also more mainstream roots.By contrast, ‘Do You Believe’ fits comfortably into neither of these individual styles, but rides the middle ground, as the mounting uneasiness in the verses builds towards a discordant yet surprisingly catchy chorus.
As a first time listener of Deftones, I was surprised; first by how heavy their music was (admittedly, I was deceived by the album cover), and secondly by how much resonance and depth there was behind the throbbing baselines and anguished vocals: Deftones are not screaming into the silence, but rather filling it in, and colouring it with such an uncommon shade that you can’t help but be compelled to admire.
In the end, though, the best parts of the album are the tracks that diverge from the traditional, tormented style. Ironically, one of the most emotive tracks in the album is one with the most controversial connotations; ‘Sextape’ sits unexpectedly beneath ‘Rocket Skates’ (a favourite among critics and fans alike), and aspires towards a more lostprophets-eque style. In Diamond Eyes, Deftones seem to make an effort to reform themselves into the band they once were, but also to capture the spirit of our time, balancing old with new and the conventional with an occasional surprise. The results are mixed, but not jarringly so.