Genre: Alternative Metal/Experimental Rock
Producer: Matt Hyde, Deftones
Released: April 8, 2016
Originally associated with the alternative and nu metal movements of the turn of the millennium, Deftones quickly grew out of the box in which they were placed by their critics. While they have many aesthetic similarities with the genre, the band was and still is far more ambitious and inventive in their sound than any of their contemporaries ever dared to be. Well, excluding 2010’s Linkin Park, but how successful that ambition was in their case is still up to debate.
However, when compared against other Deftones discography, their eighth studio album Gore falls to the less imaginative and inventive side. This is a shame, since there is a lot of potential on the album. Clearly frontman Chino Moreno’s recent work with his side project Crosses has rubbed off on the record, as the album is much more electronic in nature than the previous Deftones records. Many songs like “Hearts/Wires”, “Xenon” or the title track feature atmospheric keyboard interludes, which brings to mind the more experimental and dreamy sound of their 2006 album Saturday Night Wrist.
Despite all these theoretical changes in their sound, on Gore the quintet sounds more by-the-book than Deftones ever has. There’s the heavier segment where Moreno screams his lines on top of the more crunchier riffs; there’s the part where his voice goes fragile and vulnerable, while the band creates this ethereal, almost serene soundscape; there’s the oddball time signature C-part; there’s the shoegaze-inspired wall of guitar with the chord buried somewhere underneath all the distortion. All of this have been experienced and heard before on previous Deftones records, and the coating of synthesizers does about as good work disguising this as slapping Groucho glasses on the album cover would’ve. For a brief moment at the beginning of “Pittura Infamante” the guitar work of Stephen Carpenter sounds suspiciously like Iron Maiden, which in the context of things sounds refreshing. But when the most refreshing part of your record is a possibly accidental, ten seconds long pastiche of a 40 year old band, you know you’ve got a problem.
Even with the added electronic elements Gore has a bit of an identity problem amongst the Deftones discography: it just doesn’t feel like it brings on the table anything that we haven’t already seen from the band. The addition of the synths feels largely superficial, and mixes things around roughly as much as it would do if I decided to write this review using a different font. This makes Gore a serviceable, but incredibly standard Deftones album.