Deftones – Koi Yo Nokan – Review

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The Deftones have become a mythical creature of sorts in recent years; being only one of a few artists that were able to overcome being clumped into the nu-metal genre and have since created worthwhile music, like the metal/ethereal mixture found on the group’s last two records “Saturday Night Wrist” and “Diamond Eyes.” But with the band’s permanent bassist Chi Cheng recovering from a car crash (recently showing tremendous improvement), the group’s morale and creative energy were high when they stepped into the studio to record their latest full-length album “Koi Yo Nokan” with familiar producer Nick Raskulinecz. With Chino saying that the new record was recorded in the same vein of “White Pony” and aimed to be “heavy, but beautiful,” I had high expectations for the Sacramento California-based sextet’s (including Chi) new musical odyssey.

Koi Yo Nokan” begins in the similar vein as the bands 2000 effort “White Pony,” with nu-metal spirited riffs on the album’s opening track “Swerve City,” which isn’t surprising seeing as Chino considers this effort to resemble “White Pony” on more then just a few levels — except this time around it features the comforting ethereal haze made prominent only in recent Deftones records. Guitarist Stephen Carpenter had announced his departure from traditional 6-string and new venturing into 7 and 8-stringed guitars for the recording of this record, and you can tell immediately – mostly in the fast (and repetitive) ladder fretwork in “Romantic Dreams” as well as the deep-dropped tuned riffs in the heavy reverbed mammoth track “Poltergeist.” It isn’t until we reach the record’s finest track however, the triumphant and slow-burn outing, “Entombed,” that we realize how focused and well produced this effort is. Chino’s soft-sung poetry, “Placed inside, safe and sound. Shapes and colors are all I see. Shapes and colors are all I feel” really take the edge off of the previous tracks on the effort, but in the best way possible — like a smooth drag of a cigarette after a long night. It also projects a positive, purely melodic direction not seen in previous Deftones releases.

To the same effect, Chino’s vocals have found their home in the long, drawn-out, breathy vocals that change only slightly from a light shout to a meditated soft-sung set of pipes, ensuring that even the harder tracks on the record will still be calm and collected enough to have you hear and understand what he’s saying. The patient, musical building in songs like (the almost hard-rock) “Tempest” and the effects-friendly, slow-moving masterpiece, ”Rosemary,” both hold their own for the closing moments of “Koi Yo Nokan,” where on previous albums the band has, in years past, placed some of their most chaotically boring songs. Just look at the second half of their self-titled record and you will hear what I mean. Luckily for us, Deftones have stuck to their melodic guns with this record, only grazing their past formidable chugging and grungy riffs (in songs like “Gauze” and “Goon Squad”), leaving the album to evolve with more a more dynamic pulse and experimentation — ala the sonic, indie, album closer, “What Happened To You” and of course the best song on the record, “Entombed.”

Escaping nu-metal was the band’s hardest struggle to date, but it seems that making powerfully remarkable and experimental metal records has become something of a tradition for the Deftones. With the spirit of Chi in every note recorded, and the experienced hand of Nick in their producing chair, every song on “Koi Yo Nokan‘ has its own unique personality, from the stoic and solid outings, to the airy and ethereal backings to each building song. This record is definitely the band’s easiest album to digest, with almost no spastic edgy metal to muddle up the technical riffage and melodic guitars, and it flourishes because of it. Without a doubt, Deftones have recorded another tremendously solid and evolving effort — do yourself a favor and pick up this album as soon as humanly possible. [Staff]

Score: 4.5 (out of  5)

Release Date: November 12th, 2012
Record Label: Reprise Records
Genre: Alternative Metal
RIYL: Team Sleep, Glassjaw, †††

Track Listing:
1. Swerve City
2. Romantic Dreams
3. Leathers
4. Poltergeist
5. Entombed
6. Graphic Nature
7. Tempest
8. Gauze
9. Rosemary
10. Goon Squad
11. What Happened to You?

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