Irrespective of their stellar output, Deftones have always struggled to distinguish themselves from the contaminated haze of nu-metal that so often turns listeners away. Without sacrificing any of the gratifying brutality that fans have come to expect from the band, Gore strikes a delightful balance, and is perhaps their most accessible record to date. It’s not a resounding success, but it’s an assured high point in a discography that gets more impressive with almost each release. Gore is crafted with a mature mentality that naturally makes it more rewarding with multiple listens, and displays enough flexibility to make it engaging throughout. The record boasts a clear centrepiece in the form of “Hearts/Wires” – dynamic, confident and predictably powerful, this is a Deftones track that warrants their early tag of being the ‘Radiohead of metal’. The contrast between verse and chorus is an assured display of expertise that makes it clear that Deftones are indisputably a level above the majority of acts that make up the nu-metal scene. The lush, reverb-soaked guitars that glide onward in the opening track evoke a sensation of nostalgia that once again provides a perfect contrast to the chugging riffs that dominate the pounding delights of “Doomed User” and “Gore”. Other tracks also possess similar moments of visceral violence, but are unfortunately let down by vocal cuts that get lost in the mix and aren’t strong enough to carry forward such a weighty sound. This, combined with a closing track that strangely lacks any of the dynamism found previously on the record, leaves an ounce of frustration that leaves it falling just short of greatness. Gore is an enjoyable crash of alluring violence that will likely be looked upon as one of this years better releases. But with just a little more care, it could have been their very finest achievement.
Favourite tracks // Doomed User
Gore, the latest release from alternative metal band Deftones, is a whole lot of screamy, fuzzy merge. Stop the presses! Sadly, I’ve found it difficult to move beyond that initial impression, flippant as it may be. The album is relentless and abrasive in ways that incinerates subtlety and reflection. In its defence, though, it does so deliberately. Describing some of the creative tensions that went into Gore’s recording process, guitarist Stephen Carpenter noted that he ‘had to embrace [his] inner psycho rapist and come up with the part and get into it.’ To his and the band’s credit, it sounds like they succeeded. This conscious direction, combined with my non-existent relationship with metal music (which will continue after this), makes any judgements by me a little dubious. Deftones are probably doing what they’re doing quite well; it just happens to give me a headache. Most of the work’s texture feels—to me at least—like sandpaper applied directly to the brain at 10,000 rpm. Everything’s ratcheted up a little too high, and I couldn’t care less about how tormented white noise is. It’s no coincidence that the tracks with more balance between negative space and angsty racket—“(L)Mirl” and “Hearts/Wires” in particular— are the ones I genuinely enjoy. Most of what’s left I don’t plan to listen to again.
Favourite tracks // (L)Mirl
This was my first proper exposure to a Deftones release, and it’s been a positive one. With a variety of sounds present throughout the album, Gore revels in offering the listener vast, echoing music, with Chino Moreno’s vocals calling out across them, only to throw you into blistering passages of noise that would likely be brilliant to experience in a live setting. It provides a slightly agitated, conflicted quality to the album without making it a disjointed listen. The agitation may well be intentional too given the lyrical content, which touches upon death, helplessness and frustration. Stephen Carpenter and Sergio Vega both deserve mentions for providing the goods with great heavy riffs and some lovely, nostalgia inducing clean guitar tones too. Overall, Gore’s a good listen; noisy for sure, but it’s whetted my appetite to listen to the band’s back catalogue, and I’ll definitely be looking returning a good portion of this release.
Favourite tracks // Gore
GUEST WRITER // Gabriel sutton
I came to Deftones late. Faded memories of “Back to School (Mini Maggit)” playing on late 90’s Scuzz still fill my brain. However, it wasn’t until very recently I spent the time to listen to this music that people have called ‘genre-less’. Although this is a gross overstatement, I can appreciate the sentiment. I started with Around the Fur (1997) and Adrenaline (1995) and later on graduated to the award winning White Pony (2000) and Diamond Eyes (2011). You may say the music has an overall tone, however it is difficult to call Deftones Nu Metal, Hard Rock, Post-Punk or any other denomination of the aforementioned. This is because they are all of these things, and none of them at the same time.
Gore is the latest release from Deftones, a melancholic reprisal of anguish, disappointment and annoyance, containing complexities that are not apparent on first listen. As I continue to return to the record, it gives me a little more each time. Whilst the opening track did not initially speak to me, it clearly makes sense in context with the rest of the record. “Doomed User” harks back to a Deftones filled with angst, similar to what we hear on Around the Fur. The complexities here lie within the time changes, a competency of Deftones. However, the album undoubtedly peaks at “Hearts/Wires”. The vocals and guitar within this track work together in a way that leaves a feeling of both wonder and unease. It is a pause for reflection on the first half of Gore, as well as an opener for the records crowning tracks. It is certainly worth noting this is the first record Deftones have released since their bassist Cheng tragically died. It seems to me that “Hearts/Wires” and the tracks that follow highlight certain disputes in the band, particularly in the writing. This seems to be the case with most of the record; it pulls you from many directions yet never removes you from the experience, which is certainly no bad thing. This is exemplified greatly on the outro to “Gore”, as it unapologetically reminds the listener ‘No, you’re done when we are done.’ The standard of songwriting on this record is consistent with much of Deftones material. That is to say, it’s generally very good.
Gore gives you space to think, contemplate and understand. It is an interesting record for those familiar with Deftones, and certainly not a bad place to start if this is your first experience with them. Some tracks such as “Gore”,“Pittura Infamante” and “(L)MIRL” stand out on their own, but this record is best listened to as a whole. Its intricacies and complexities certainly deserve multiple listens.