Album Review: Deftones - 'Diamond Eyes'

16 April 2010 | 9:48 pm | Staff Writer

New lineup delivers a fierce return to form

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It deeply saddens me to inform you all that our brother Chi Cheng was involved in a terrible car accident last night…” – Chino Moreno

Posted on the band’s blog in late 2008, it was the news that no Deftones fan wanted to hear. As a sudden shock to the band’s foundation and followers, the news went from bad to worse as subsequent posts unveiled that Deftones bassist Chi Cheng had in fact been left in a coma due to serious injuries he sustained in the car accident. Uncertainty mounted as to what would happen to the band and their nearly completed album, “Eros”, with whispers suggesting Cheng’s health would lead to their breakup. However, this was not to be the case.

Despite being faced with this adversity, Deftones prevailed and have drawn strength from their hardship to create one of their most captivating albums to date. After postponing “Eros” following the realisation that it didn’t reflect the band’s current state of mind and recruiting former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega to fill the void left by Cheng, Deftones have summoned their collective talents and experiences of the past few years to create the reinvigorated sounding “Diamond Eyes”.

Straying away from the ambience and experimentation of 2006's “Saturday Night Wrist”, “Diamond Eyes” marks a musical shift in the band’s direction. Perhaps partially fueled by the angst created by their wounded friend and bandmate, “Diamond Eyes” has a heavier and more guitar-driven sound that is reminiscent of the band’s earlier albums but which still retains the melody and atmosphere of their later releases. It has an honest and urgent quality about it with songs like “Royal” and “CMND/CTRL” lashing your ears one minute with their abrasive verses and then beckoning you to listen closer when vocalist Chino Moreno’s soulful moan comes crooning.

Aiding this shift in musical direction appears to be influences including Meshuggah (who guitarist Stephen Carpenter has praised and appropriately called the “quantum physics” of metal). While they may not share the same level of complexity in their songwriting, Meshuggah’s influence and infatuation with insanely detuned guitars can be heard during opener and single “Diamond Eyes”, which has a mammoth riff that heaves and slumps underneath Moreno’s ethereal vocals and Frank Delgado’s whirling programming. It’s a song that testifies to the band’s desire to be constantly pushing their sound while also retaining their infectious melody.

“Diamond Eyes” also has its mellow, heartfelt moments that act as the antidote to the venom of heavier songs. “Beauty School” has a huge chorus featuring Moreno’s emotive wail and Carpenter’s melodic guitar playing that flirts with commercial acceptability while “Sextape” is a dreamy song that drifts along on an ambient bass line and introspective lyrics. Even the frantic metallic chug and Moreno’s piercing screech of “guns, razors, knives” during “Rocket Skates” is followed by the kind of harmonic chorus that latches itself to your thoughts for days.

Recorded in just two months with producer Nick Raskulinecz, the album has an energy to it that reflects the band’s decision of postponing “Eros” in favour of writing music that better reflected their mindset as a band. The result is “Diamond Eyes”- an album full of raw emotion that is sonically heavy but still displays Deftones’ ability to contrast the hectic with the heartfelt.

1. Diamond Eyes

2. Royal


4. You've Seen The Butcher

5. Beauty School

6. Prince

7. Rocket Skates

8. Sextape

9. Risk

10. 976-EVIL

11. This Place Is Death