A breakdown of the new Deftones single, ‘Ohms’

Let’s jump into ‘Ohms,’ the first single from Deftones new album of the same name. 

In June 2000, Deftones released their most important album, the release that practically made them, ‘White Pony.’ It’s a record that, while not my personal favourite album of theirs, is undoubtedly their biggest. An album that nu-metal fans, hardcore kids, BDSM kinksters, shoegaze lovers, goth nerds, and people who aren’t even that into heavy or alternative music can really appreciate. (The band also has a companion remix album called ‘Black Stallion‘ coming later this year.)

Twenty years on from that watershed moment, and a lifetimes worth of events and far greater success, Deftones will release their next album, ‘Ohms,’ on September 25th through Reprise and Warner Music Australia. This week, we received the first blessed taste of this new record, with the album’s eponymous cut making waves online. This album was produced by Terry Date, the first time he’s taken the helm of a Deftones record since their stellar 2003 self-titled LP. (Not counting the unreleased ‘Eros‘ in 2008.) And I think you can really hear that influence in the summery, rock-orientation of the titular ‘Ohms.’

This cover was designed by artist Frank Maddocks, who has created all of Deftones’ album art since ‘White Pony.’

With just four minutes, Deftones have made a song better than anything off of the painfully mediocre and forgettable ‘Gore‘ (2016.) From the galloping, upbeat triplet riffage of the intro, to the thicker, almost-sludgy riff that comes in for the first verse when the tempo shifts down and that head-banging groove really settles in, ‘Ohms‘ moves through various sections. Whether it’s the huge, shoegaze-y, riff-driven choruses as Chino Moreno slides between his distinct intimate singing and slightly harsher yells (with his excellent note choice), the faster syncopated rhythms between guitarist Stephen Carpenter – seen rocking his custom ESP 9-string in the music video below, playing in standard tuning on that fucking monster – and air-tight, power-house drummer Abe Cunningham, or how the song races towards a slightly more complex, ethereal finish, there’s heaps to like. In many respects, it’s a simple, standard-issue track for Chino &  The Tones, but a highly enjoyable one at that, even if it is kinda repetitive.

An ohm is, simply put, an electrical resistance between two points of a conductor when a constant potential difference is applied to these points. You can feel that sense of resistance – that push and pull between negative and positive energies – in the lyrics when Chino sings in the chorus over sweet octave chords: “And time won’t change this, this promise we made. Yeah, the time won’t change this. It’s how it’ll stay.” Back in 2010, on the temporal ‘Diamond Eyes,’ he sang about an eventual reunion in other realms, declaring “time will see us realign.” There’s a strong feeling of time and space folding over one another with ‘Ohms.’ Especially in the second verse, “We’ve been possessed by these changing times. As we slip on through, we promised to meet again somewhere,” feeling like a self-referential homage.

Deftones, 2020.

All of these ideas could be read as any number of experiences, like the dynamics of a relationship. However, the singer did mention to NME that he was actually thinking about the environment when he wrote the opening line – “we’re surrounded by the debris of the past.” Something that’s given larger credence by the video’s visuals of destruction and dystopia, as well as the last line of the song being “we shall remain.” It’s negativity leading to hopeful optimism; pain becoming endurance. It’s about balance and polarity, something the rest of the record will thematically lean into more, according to the Big C.

There’s no shortage of comments from fans, who while liking the song, where hoping for something bigger, something heavier, as a first taste of Deftones‘ first new album in four years. However, it’s worth mentioning that ‘Ohms‘ is the closing song from the larger record that shares its namesake. So I can take a pretty educated guess about the rest of its musical content and say there’s likely bound to be heavier, more aggressive songs (instrumentally, at least) found on the other nine songs in ‘Ohms.’ Even if there’s not any other more “metal” iterations of their sound on the remaining LP, that wouldn’t automatically make it bad or lesser than their other releases. Hell, some of my most-loved Deftones songs are their moodier, softer compositions, like ‘What Happened To You?‘ or ‘Sextape.’ This song didn’t need to be super heavy or technical to be good, and in the context of the full album, I think it might even be stronger.

Anyway, I’m digging ‘Ohms‘ and am very excited for this new ‘Tones album, are you?


Leave a Reply

You must be registered and logged in to comment on this post.