It takes a lot for a band to write and record an entire album, shelve it, and write another; especially with a dedicated fan base anticipating it so highly. Deftones took a considerable risk with Diamond Eyes, choosing to continue their efforts without Chi Cheng, who is still in a coma since his accident in 2008. Fortunately, the risk they took certainly pays off.

Diamond Eyes features a maturation of the same sort of sound that Deftones have become famous for: melding relatively simple yet heavy (and at times, aggressive) alternative metal riffs with dreampop-like atmosphere and floaty melodies. Much of the record has sounds reminiscent of 2000’s White Pony, and this is certainly the best album they’ve done since then.

The album opens with the simple radio-ready title track “Diamond Eyes”. This song does justice as the album’s namesake, with a beautiful chorus featuring mesmerizing lyrics and imagery.

“Once and for all, time will see us realign.
Diamonds rain across the sky.
Follow me into the same realm.”

Sadly, this song is over before you know it, but it is very memorable. Royal is a powerful song “CMND/CTRL” is one of the heavier songs, and it will get you feeling pumped up. The riffs in this song, when combined with Chino’s confident-and-cocky vocals (“Switching command, just because I can”), will make you feel ballsy and empowered.

“You’ve Seen The Butcher” rips a page straight out of the blues and carries that attitude throughout, especially in Chino’s vocal delivery and the groove that the song falls into. “Beauty School” is one of the more relaxed songs, and is some straight up dream rock with a very catchy drum beat moving the layered and airy reverb and delay laden guitars along.

Something about “Prince” reminds me of “RX Queen” from White Pony. The songs are definitely very similar, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Both songs are great in capturing that same mood and emotion; although “Prince”, like the rest of Diamond Eyes, is decidedly more optimistic in approach, which is what the band were going for the whole time.

“Rocket Skates” has one of the more memorable and propelling guitar riffs on the album. With the other songs, it seemed that Stephen Carpenter’s guitar playing took a sort of back seat. In “Rocket Skates”, the guitar is one of the more important aspects.  The chorus is also the most memorable.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woR6ohiFeYE]

“GUNS! RAZORS! KNIVES! Fuck with me!
You’re red, soaking wet. I’m right next to you.”

What makes Chino such a great frontman is his confidence and comfort in his abilities  No one listens to Deftones for vocal virtuosity and polish, but Chino knows exactly what he’s doing, and it works quite well.

I have to applaud Stephen Carpenter. He doesn’t want to sacrifice the song’s flow by trying to complicate things. His playing is simple, when compared to quite a few metal guitarists, but that’s what the Deftones sound calls for. Playing technically proficient and complex riffs and sweeps wouldn’t fit well in a spacey and atmospheric rock band like Deftones. However, Carpenter makes good use of all of his eight stings throughout the album. There are no djenty chugs and overuse of the B string that a lot of metal is guilty of. He knows when a song needs a heavy riff and when it needs delicately strummed chords for ambient effect. And you know, I think Frank Delgado’s importance in Deftones often goes unsung. When listening to Diamond Eyes through several times and picking it apart, it becomes even clearer that his keys are of vital importance in the band’s sound. Without him, the songs would fall short. These songs just wouldn’t work without Delgado’s touch of atmosphere.

This delicate instrumentation shines in “Sextape”, which shows the mellower side of Deftones. “Sextape” is a beautiful ballad with soothing texture and more imagery from Chino (“Tonight, the sound of the waves collide”). I always loved proper use of the delay pedal.

Risk picks the pace up a bit with palm muted riffage, but continues the floating feeling established by it’s preceding tracks, and helps set up the album’s ending with “976-EVIL” and “This Place Is Death”, with the similar place and soundscape add a very content, yet optimistic feeling to end on.

With “Diamond Eyes”, Deftones set out to show you who they are in their current state, and it works remarkably well. There’s no progression in sound here, but they’ve mastered their sound.

Deftones – Diamond Eyes gets

4.5/5

Diamond Eyes is out May 4th. Go check it out!

– JR

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