Perhaps the most painful reviews to write are the ones where I find myself thinking “man, that would have been really great…except for that one thing.” Sadly, this is where Deftones’ latest studio offering Gore lies for me. This was my first experience with the popular alternative/post-metal quintet and while the new album has received near-universal acclaim, I found myself unable to move past frontman Chino Moreno’s strained and abrasive voice.
Ok, let’s look at the positive first. The instrumentation and arrangements are pretty incredible. There’s a lot of solid, intricate composition here that successfully marries heavy metal with some atmospheric elements. Almost every track kept my interest on an intellectual level, though I didn’t feel very emotionally invested at any point. In any case, an instrumental version of the album could be very appealing to both fans and non-fans of metal.
On the negative end, Deftones struggle to maintain my attention given their lead singer and unfortunately pun-worthy name. For more than half the album I found myself distractedly thinking they should change the spelling of their name to “Deaf-tones” to accurately represent themselves. Moreno clearly has a passion for what he’s doing, but neither his love for his craft nor his lyrics could get me past the grating tone of his voice. While the instrumental portions kept re-engaging me throughout, I was tired of the album by the fourth track – tired in the way one feels while listening to an over-compressed victim of the dreaded “loudness war.” It truly becomes taxing on your ears, though admittedly not even close to the worst that’s out there.
One oddity on the album is what I believe to be a wasted use of collaboration. The tenth track, “Phantom Bride,” includes guitar work by Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains fame. While this sounds like a great combination on paper, the actual execution was just kind of lackluster. Cantrell’s guitars sound virtually no different than any of the guitar work by Stephen Carpenter or Chino Moreno on the rest of the album. It might have been a lot better (and more pleasing to the ears) to have had Cantrell provide vocals as well. The whole track is essentially unremarkable, save for expressing regret in what could have been a cool guest appearance.
If you’re looking for a few tracks to test the waters and see if you’d want to listen to the whole album, I’d recommend “Hearts/Wires,” “Xenon,” and “(L)MIRL.” Otherwise you can check out the entire album below. Honestly, it’s not the worst album I’ve ever heard. As stated above, this is very much a case of one sour element severely afflicting what otherwise is a good product. I give the full album in its current state a 4/10, but an instrumental version would receive 7/10.
What do you think about Deftones’ new album? Listen below and let us know your thoughts in the comments!
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