Having crafted an expansive body of work, it is no surprise Deftones’ eighth album sees them at their most dynamic and challenging. The creative tussle of frontman Chino Moreno and guitarist Stephen Carpenter serves as ‘Gore’s centrepiece; partly intense and partly harmonious. However this does not deter from ‘Gore’s impact.
Early cuts ‘Acid Hologram’ and ‘Doomed User’ are menacing with sharp, thrash-esque guitars combining with Moreno’s scathing voice creating a subsonic growl which overwhelms. It brings a heavy foundation that is soon countered as ‘Hearts/Wireless’ offers one of the album’s most intimate moments with its potent tone. Moreno’s drawn out vocals prove to be effortless and, for the most part, take centre stage whilst rippling guitars weave in and out making the whole song feel spacious.
Lyrically Moreno takes a self-exploration route with ‘Pittura Infamante’ showing his relief as he states “I will sing your praises,” whilst ‘Xenon’ displays a familiar heightened approach; “We’re the lions at the gates / We’re the diamond in your brain.” The dream-like imagery counters Carpenter’s thunderous guitars throughout. However on ’(L)MIRL’ and ‘Gore’, there seems to be some form of unity between Moreno and Carpenter as thick, stabbing guitars drop in and out with Abe Cunningham’s dependable drum work proving to be the band’s backbone with Serigo Vega’s six-string bass bringing a broad texture.
Penultimate track ‘Phantom Bride’ drifts with subtle beauty as Jerry Cantrell supplies a stirring solo, before being rounded off with a huge, drawn-out chorus. ‘Rubicon’ ties up the loose ends of the album as it blends the musical intensity with the cathartic lyricism of Moreno. It’s a fitting conclusion to a record that is imposing yet satisfying.
At times, ‘Gore’ is jarring and thrives off an unrelenting need to be heavy yet doesn’t deter itself from being diverse. The balance of being cordial and ferocious is delivered precisely – it’s Deftones being adventurous but sticking to their roots. The evolution of Deftones continues and is intriguing as ever.
‘Gore’ by Deftones is out now on Warner Bros. Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)