Deftones - Ohms | Album Review


Back in January – when we were all oh-so blissfully ignorant to the horrors 2020 would play host to – the world of contemporary music was busy ruminating on the albums that were set to be released over the course of the year. Whist such a list was jammed with a plethora of major artists, one such release topped the list in bold italics; the ninth studio album from Deftones.

Following on from nine months of feverish anticipation and speculation, the world is now on the tantalising cusp of experiencing the just recently announced Ohms. But the question remains, is the record worth the countless days of baited trepidation, especially when considering the more polarising nature of 2016’s Gore? Without a doubt, the answer to that is an unwavering yes.

Basically, not only is Ohms is the next logical step for Deftones, it’s an artistic statement on how such an established band can remain relevant, ingenious and universally influential whilst retaining their own respective identity. The more obtuse and crystallising geometrical nature of Gore has been refined and been chemically unified with the more concise and contemporarily raw nature of its predecessors. What transpires is a record that still provokes and pushes in a fashion that’s still somewhat oblique but radiant with incandescent emotion. It’s a record that lusciously blurs the lines with their historic roots and the more enigmatic mantras exercised within the last decade.

For the most part, it feels as if every moment of this record is an amalgamation of singular moments from Deftones’ historic career. However, whilst this may sound like the band are just rehashing ideas and sensibilities from previous work, Ohms feels more dynamically cutting edge than it does nostalgic. Such an encapsulation becomes evident immediately with opener ‘Genesis’ charging forth from the gates with zeal; low-end downtempo fretwork backs Chino Moreno’s vocals which pendulum from hypnotic tender crooning to strained screams all whilst basking in the neon-lit urbanite atmosphere that blanketed Koi No Yokan. In relation, ‘Error’ offers a borderline distressed metal bounce whist enjoying the stylised sophistication of Diamond Eyes and the future fan favourite of ‘Urantia’ pairs a central riff courtesy of Stephan Carpenter that sounds like it was envisioned in the Adrenaline sessions with the otherworldly musical spatiality of Gore.

The way in which Ohms presents myriads of combinations of various Deftones moments is one of the record’s strongest points, but the overall atmosphere and relative mood of Ohms is incomparable to any record released thus far. This ultimately is due to the meticulous work of veteran producer and engineer Terry Date, a name immortalised following his work on the trifecta of records composed of the aforementioned Adrenaline, Around The Fur and the ceremonial White Pony.

Infusing the record with sandblasted grit whilst still allowing the more prominent synthetic soundscapes of Frank Delgado to coat the record with a translucent aura, Ohms is incandescent with a perfectly balanced tone that wondrously showcases each respective member firing furiously on all cylinders, in both synch and harmony. This becomes blindingly transparent on the simply colossal obsidian clad ‘The Spell Of Mathematics’, the oceanic allure of the rapturous ‘Pompeji’ and the skittish strobing rush of ‘Radiant City’, the brakeless bastard child of ‘Swerve City’ and Saturday Night Wrist’s ‘Rapture’.

Despite such raw nature amplifying the tonal density that underpins the record, much like the records that came before it, Ohms plays host to musical intensity without playing into the anger that’s synonymous with heavy music. In fact – in a manner akin to Gore – Ohms offers synergy with ones own mindset. The record bonds with your mental psyche, influencing it whilst providing a unique experience dependent on your relative mood at the time of listen. Like the most powerful of intoxicants, this record is one that amplifies and exaggerates the mindset when experienced; the crushing tone, the star speckled splendour and mystifying enigmatic nature becomes physically tangible when psychologically connected with. In relation, despite the outbursts of density that bookmark this record, the palpable seductive nature that permanents Deftones has only been heightened with this record. The raw, primal groove of the record gyrates with borderline eroticism, something that comes to climax with the semi-final of ‘Headless’, a track that plays out the like the alluring sequel to the ever enticing hit single ‘You’ve Seen The Butcher.’

Following on from the finale of the title track lead single, the first thing many will do is plunge right back into the luscious textures and groove of Ohms. Fully, Ohms is the full encapsulation of what makes Deftones an unparalleled and ceaselessly alluring entity. It’s a record host to countless layers of intricacy within its velvet and steel creases, one that that rewards repetitive listens with new experiences and rewards. Even after the band's approximate 30 years of activity, Ohms is a monumental triumph that breathtakingly showcases Deftones at their most focused and driven.

Score: 9/10

Ohms is released September 25th via Warner Records. Pre-order the album here.

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