ALBUM REVIEW: Deftones – Diamond Eyes

Deftones - Diamond Eyes

Diamond Eyes
[Reprise/Warner, 2010]


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We certainly don’t make it a secret around here that we adore this band. Deftones are our rock Valentine. No doubt. But we are honest in our praise and criticism. We’ll be the first to tell you that something is genius and we’ll be the first to tell you something blows goats. Like the previous two releases. Both Deftones (2003) and Saturday Night Wrist (2006) left quite a bit to be desired. Take the best of each and you might have the makings of a decent record. Maybe. If you squint your ears. Fortunately, that is not the case with Diamond Eyes.

There is a creative hunger present on this record not heard since 2000′s White Pony. The writing, the performances and the production (courtesy of the underappreciated Nick Raskulinecz) are second to none in the Deftones canon. This is quite possibly their creative pinnacle. Yes, you read that right. You can hear through your speakers exactly what went into this music. These are all songs that were written together as a band, rehearsed a thousand times together as a band, and recorded together as a band. Not a piecemeal effort assembled in Pro Tools with phoned-in performances. There is emotion and deep breaths of fresh air in these rock lungs. And I can not give enough props to Chino for the vocal and lyrical display. For real. Dude went above and beyond, pulling some amazing shit out of his ass by combining the gut-wrenching vocal aggression from Around the Fur with the abrasive pop melodicism of White Pony. Homeboy puts in some stellar work.

The record marks the band’s first effort without founding bass player Chi Cheng who remains in a coma after being involved in a devastating car accident in 2008. His presence—and his buoyant low-end grooves—are definitely missing. But perhaps out of the tragedy came a new found love for each other and what they do, as well as an appreciation for how blessed they are to still be in the game 22 years after their inception. The band sounds revived, rejuvenated. And I’m quite sure the addition of Sergio Vega (Quicksand) lit a fire under their asses, especially drummer Abe Cunningham who provides a thunderous, technically flawless performance. He’s always shined when the band gets down to basics and Diamond Eyes is a gritty, blistering, no-nonsense affair.

This is eleven tracks deep of near rock perfection. The guitars are scathing, the riffs monstrous. The heavy is heavy as fuck (“Rocket Skates”), the space rock is brilliantly aired out (“Beauty School”) and there are some mid tempo rockers with sky high hooks (“Diamond Eyes,” “Risk”). This is Deftones at their pummeling best, carving out smoldering, white knuckle anthems. There are moments of ambient beauty and quiet reverie, but for the most part Diamond Eyes is a visceral scorcher, densely heavy and electrifying.

I was not fucking around when I said this would be the soundtrack to my summer. I can really only hope for some decent videos now. And to get my balls torn off when I see them live.

Diamond Eyes Track Listing:
01. Diamond Eyes
02. Royal
04. You’ve Seen the Butcher
05. Beauty School
06. Prince
07. Rocket Skates
08. Sextape
09. Risk
10. 976-EVIL
11. This Place is Death

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