The legendary band at their beguiling best
Joe Connell
11:19 22nd September 2020

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Deftones are truly deserving of their legendary status. The alt-metal behemoths have never once stagnated, but have sonically evolved with every release since debut Adrenaline dropped in 1995. Their ninth opus Ohms is no exception - here, Deftones suspend space and time to create their most progressive album yet.  

The reunion between Deftones and Terry Date - who produced their first four albums - has been 17 years in the making. During their collaborative hiatus, the quintet solidified their status amongst metal's elite, building from the hugely successful platform that they initially forged alongside Date. Their last full length, 2016’s Gore, showed that despite being over three decades into their career, Deftones still had plenty to offer. Upon reflection however, frontman Chino Moreno conceded that Gore suffered in spells - mainly due to guitarist Stephen Carpenter’s lack of involvement during its writing process. 

To counteract this, Deftones made a conscious decision to work as a collective on Ohms. Sessions for the record initially began with Moreno, Carpenter and drummer Abe Cunningham jamming in a small rehearsal room to capture their sound at its most organic. Bassist Sergio Vega and turntablist Frank Delgado then entered the fray, before the band locked themselves away in Sacramento and LA. The end result is a record that captures Deftones at their beguiling best. 

As soon as Delgado’s Pink Floyd-esque synth creeps into life on opener ‘Genesis’, we are propelled into a galaxy. Moreno addresses rebirth and rehabilitation on the track, revealing “I finally achieve / balance” before “climbing out of the ashes” during its majestic chorus. Carpenter’s low-end crunch then comes to the fore on ‘Ceremony’, intertwining with Cunningham’s unmistakeable drum patterns as the frontman liberates himself from a toxic relationship - “so I’m leaving you tonight, It’s not fun here anymore”.

Carpenter’s influence is far more pronounced on Ohms than its predecessor, as evidenced by the metallic drive of ‘Urantia’, ‘Error’ and in particular ‘This Link Is Dead’. The latter is the perfect example of the Deftones dichotomy working in full effect - as Delgado’s shimmering textures are punctured by Carpenter's ferocious riffs and Moreno’s shriek of “You want action?” in what proves to be Ohms at its most confrontational.

Undoubtedly, the albums showpiece is the ‘The Spell of Mathematics’ -  a shapeshifting slab of shoegaze that contains one of the finest choruses the band has ever written. After the spin-cycle of ghostly keys and morphing basslines subside, it delicately retreats into an ambient soundscape that merges into ‘Pompeji’, where Moreno uses biblical imagery to address his demons amid a nine-string onslaught courtesy of Carpenter. The unrestrained stomp of ‘Radiant City’ and the slinking ‘Headless’ then fire ‘Ohms’ further into the ether, before the title track brings proceedings to a close. Moreno takes the opportunity to reflect on the “debris of the past” before defiantly announcing “we shall remain” in a statement symbolic of Deftones' lasting legacy within the metal scene.
Overall, Ohms is a transcendental body of work that perfectly amalgamates the beauty and brutality of Deftones' sound – satisfying the tastes of fans both old and new. Their ninth effort will go down as one of the most dynamic releases in the bands peerless back catalogue. Deftones just get better with age.

Ohms arrives 25 September via Reprise Records.

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