Gore review by Deftones

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  • Released: Apr 8, 2016
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (81 votes)
Deftones: Gore
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Sound — 8
In the same way Deftones have already immortalized themselves as a seminal alt-metal band that could take a genre cemented in angry, forceful expression and expand on it with much more emotion, Deftones' activity in the last few years have been an impressive continuance of artistry in the face of tragedy. After their work on their unreleased album "Eros" - an album meant to be a stabilizing initiative for the band after nearly breaking up - was ultimately shelved after longtime bassist Chi Cheng got into a car accident that left him in a coma, Deftones managed to pirouette gracefully from these chaining twists of fate. By refraining from completing "Eros" without Cheng as a show of respect, they continued forward in another direction, and ended up creating some of their most critically-acclaimed albums yet: the nu-metal resurgence of 2010's "Diamond Eyes," and the post-metal initiative of 2012's "Koi No Yokan."

Though they originally decided to keep "Eros" from being released, the possibility of the album's release grew high when Cheng passed away in 2013, now seeing it as a proper tribute to show the listeners his final work. But with the album still being far from finished, the idea of building on Cheng's work without him didn't sit well with the band either, so again, Deftones have chosen to keep "Eros" in perpetual suspension, and continue forward with writing new music, now releasing their eighth album, "Gore."

Following the more unified and dependable compositions of "Diamond Eyes" and "Koi No Yokan," Deftones concern themselves again with sonic experimentation in "Gore," reaching into brand new territory for the band. "Acid Hologram" conjures a dark and doomy discordance while Chino Moreno juxtaposes the unnerving progressions with his soft singing, the following measurement-wonky likes of "Doomed User" wields a classic '70s-'80s metal distortion sound, and most prominently, the band try their hand at blues influences, heard in the opening guitars of "Hearts/Wires," and Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell's guest performance on the penultimate "Phantom Bride." However, some of these new moments do come off sounding too emulative of others, and though the simmering low-gear instrumentation of "(L)MIRL" evokes that of a "Lateralus"-era Tool to a fair degree, the triplet-rhythmed starkness of "Geometric Headdress" sounds like a cut from Glassjaw's "Our Color Green" (a plausible risk, since Moreno and Daryl Palumbo have very similar vocal styles), and the resonant guitar melody in the chorus of "Rubicon" is reminiscent of Armor For Sleep's "Somebody Else's Arms."

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But with plenty of moments being quite different than heard in their previous albums, Deftones also mix in a fair amount of familiarity from the lot of their albums. "Phantom Bride" ends on a gritty breakdown the same way that the eponymous opener of "Diamond Eyes" does, the reverbed guitar melodies and Chino Moreno's forlorn chorus vocals in "Prayers/Triangles" call back to the beautiful sadness of "Koi No Yokan," and the grainy heaviness of the self-titled track wears the same colors as the unrelenting likes of the band's 2003 self-titled album.

"Gore" also shows a wider-spanning arc of emotion in its songwriting. Deftones had always known how to weave sadness and rage together with grace and grit ever since "Around the Fur," and while those moments are still crafted (like the sadness of "Prayers/Triangles" parlaying into the distressed feel of "Acid Hologram," or the biting anger of "Gore" settling down to the somberness of "Phantom Bride" and resolving to the wistful ambiguity of "Rubicon"), "Gore" also includes some songs that wield an uncanny positivity, like the triumphant progression of "Pittura Infamante" and the crunchier "Xenon," being a more big-picture way in which "Gore" runs differently compared to the band's last few albums.

Lyrics — 10
With Moreno investing more in a fantastical-themed lyric style heard previously in "Koi No Yokan" and "Diamond Eyes," his lyrics in "Gore" pave a concept of duality spanning from front to back, where Moreno wrestles with his inner demon throughout lucid dreamscapes. Moreno's consistent tumbling between empowered disengagement from this demon and pledging loyalty to it shows the dichotomous feelings towards its power over him. He articulates the former with scorn that takes form similarly to his lyrics of spiteful lust a la "Around the Fur" ("Collect your crown, you're the queen of filth" in "Doomed User") and lethality a la "White Pony" ("You're an old hex / That just drained my will / So I put this gun to my head and I smile, and dive deep" in "(L)MIRL"), showing that this demon manifests itself by way of Moreno's worst inhibitions of toxic desire, but on the other hand, Moreno's usage of sacred geometry ("You smother me in shapes in a secret praxis" in "Acid Hologram") and other divine symbolism ("I've seen the truth and I know your strength / I have watched your great ascent" in "Pittura Infamante") duly shows that Moreno's impulse to these bad inhibitions is a sense of worship.

With "Xenon" further portraying Moreno's own darkness and inclination to such ("We're the sirens to your raid / The desire to remain / In the violence / The deciders / Of your fate"), it finally comes to a boil in "Gore," where its blood-soaked imagery calls back to that of "Diamond Eyes" ("We lay in the gore of our vices / Oh, we writhe in them... I hooked you in this way"). After this vivid carnage, Moreno again tries to distance himself from this sick and senseless side of himself in "Phantom Bride" ("You waste your life / Relaxed in your void / Where you will drain all of yourself"), but in the final "Rubicon," it all comes together when the demon speaks its final words addressing Moreno's need of his dark side in order to satisfy the crowd he entertains ("You cannot face the crowd all by yourself, embrace the power we have / The record's ours to break, the more we build the crowd goes wild"), making Moreno's inner struggle in "Gore" a meta concept just as much as a personal one, and even further, revealing the self-fulfilling, paradoxical cycle of Moreno needing to harness his darkness to create art and stave off his demons. Which begs the grim question: if Moreno's expression through music is fueled by the darkest parts of his mind and heart, is the only way for him to truly triumph over that darkness to cease the expression that demands it?

Overall Impression — 9
One of the biggest reasons why Deftones have kept up such an impressive catalog is that they don't try to recapture lightning in a bottle, and instead appeal to the same risk-taking initiatives that made their previous material as lauded as it is. Still appealing to that sincere desire to always move forward, "Gore" deftly threads the needle between Deftones' urge to try new things and to continue wielding parts they know well, making the album a formidable amalgam of contrasting sounds - old and new, clean and messy, light and heavy, conventional and odd, triumphant and defeated - and ultimately, making the album an extremely fresh new offering.

51 comments sorted by best / new / date

    jman99
    This is definitely one of their most emotional and impactful records. I don't understand people who think it is just okay or not that amazing. What more do you expect?
    vppark2
    Sorry we have differing opinions man. I just can't get into this band, and it's mainly the vocals.
    Funnyname99
    This album probably wasn't going to persuade you if it's the vocalist you don't like... So... I'm wondering: whatchya doing here?
    FlyingPirahna
    All good albums are super divisive like this. DE and KNY got a LOT of "yeah they're pretty good" but I didn't see a ton of backlash towards either...Gore seems very love it or hate it so far.
    AwokenHUN
    Love this album. Deftones is one of the few bands that is consistent throughout their career and I hope to see them one day live.
    bbolton007
    Chino is not that good live, regardless they put on a great show
    FlyingPirahna
    Yeah, I've seen them twice and it's definitely more about the overall energy than Chino nailing the vocals. Especially when they play some of those older Adrenaline/ATF cuts.
    noodles_wazaman
    I was actually impressed with their energy live a few years back when I saw 'em, mid-arvo at a festival. Frankly, I thought both age and body composition may affect Chino / Steph live, but they were great. I've always been a big fan of Abe's drumming too - he nailed it live.
    a drummer
    I really enjoy this one. Totally different vibe than the last two, similar to Sauturday Night Wrist imo. Hearts/Wires and Phantom Bride (Jerry's part especially) are class songs. Xenon has sweet groove to it, Overall i think it's a great record
    Andytheman87
    Sounds a lot like Diamond and White pony to me. Chino's other band Crosses has more of a pop vibe if you're looking for something sonically different.
    d.sharpe1095
    He has another band? Does this mean Palms is done? :'(
    N-D
    Yes, Chino has some side projects: Team Sleep, ††† (aka Crosses), and Palms. So he's active with Crosses, but Palms were more like one-album collaboration with the members of a cult post-metal band ISIS.
    mysticguitar77
    Talk about an unfortunate band name...
    N-D
    ISIS were active from 1997 to 2010 (now they're split up) - and the name was chosen in honor of Isis, goddess of health, marriage, and wisdom in the ancient Egyptian mythology. The name for the terroristic group ISIS was chosen much later - in 2013 (according to Wikipedia) - and it's only acronym used by Western media, not their real title. But I understand your point - unfortunately both names are capitalized - ISIS (terroristic organization) is the abbreviation, and the band's name is also officially stylized as ISIS. Anyway, personally I wish that all people will know ISIS only as a music band, because they were (and they still are) totally great! Just check out these videos:
    mysticguitar77
    I'm sure they would have picked a different name if they only knew what the word 'ISIS' would later be associated with. Can't imagine the confusion they have to deal with even now that they're defunct. They apparently changed their name to 'ISIS the Band' on Facebook because of this but they still must get some interesting messages from people who think they're the terrorist group. I definitely will look into their music though, I listened to a couple of their songs and I'm digging it. They're right up my alley.
    N-D
    Yes, I feel bad for them when someone posts stupid jokes about bombs, terrorism etc on their pages. But anyway as I said these guys were great and unique!
    Maidenheadsteve
    Objectively there's nothing wrong with the album. Great perfomances all around, excellent production and mix of soundscapes. I think I personally like Koi no yokan more, but that's just my own subjective taste.
    vontuff
    Fantastic album. It took me 2 listens to finally get into it. Love the ambience feel to it. Definitely goes towards Koi No Yokan influence!
    wylde1994
    I've had it on repeat for the last couple of days, It's one of those albums I can listen to from start to finish without any interruption and love every minute of it.
    djmessina
    Dude, I'm with you. I've loved these guys and everything they've done since '95. Seen them live a couple times over the years. The quality of the music is so consistent from record to record, and Chino's vocals are awesome. This definitely IS one of those rare records I can play from start to finish, and actually get "lost" in the music.
    metaldalz
    This album is just GREAT!! Deftones knows exactly how to sound really different in every album butt at the same time keep that "Deftones" vibe that makes the so unique... 9 of 10 for me... Again, GREAT ALBUM!!!
    Redfinton22
    Damn, I love it so much. It will be HARD to beat Koi, that was amazing too, and I'm not sure anything will touch Diamond Eyes imo. But I have to remember that I'm super late to the party with these guys, didn't start listening till 2012. When I listen to their past records it's easy to see why Gore won't have some of the more hardcore fans stoked
    Abacus11
    I've been a Deftones fan since 1995 and I think that Gore is one of their best albums. There are some fans of the nu-metal sound of Adrenaline and Around the Fur that haven't really liked anything they've done since the late 90's but most fans have evolved with the band over the years. Deftones always seemed like a band destined for greater things even in the early days. I think that they've really come into their own over the past few records.
    noodles_wazaman
    You're on the money, I recall from a mid-90s interview that they wrote a lot of the first album well before it ever came out. Like a lot of bands, I think they have a certain cringe-factor when they look back at their early days
    smaleroux
    Just right in the continuity of Koi No Yokan, yet, everything pushed further. That's what I like with this band. I can listen to all their catalogue (even if i'm not into their first record, adrenaline) all day long, every day of the week, without even being bored a single time. I'd say that the last couple albums were, in a way, better in a whole, but the music and lyrics are way better in this one. Just as a whole, it works less than Koi No Yokan. But still, I've been listening to it non stop since its released
    Funnyname99
    So far, only this band, - and some other to a lesser degree, - have managed to go in one direction, utterly, and not repeat or reference their old sounds, but you can hear the progression from record to record, and this continues that trend. Every Deftones record has 60% of the previous one and 40% new stuff, so (doing the math) it has 30% Diamond eyes, 15% SNW, etc... and are obviously very far from the first two or three.
    blank_the69
    i'm a little divided on it. on one hand, i love the album. on the other hand, if chino plays guitar on a song, that puts immediate limits on it. in order to sing and play guitar (unless you're james hetfield), he has to limit what the guitar is doing to sing and play. think of hexagram with a chord progression chorus instead of the monster hardcore whip crack thing you hear in the chorus. for koi no yokan,i could deal chino playing guitar on ALL SONGS BUT ONE (despite a few songs that weren't keepers) becuse because the good songs were great and it did break new ground for them, but this cd doesnt. deftones will never do worse than a B- to me, but this is walking that line. this album needed more stephen songs. stephen's writing is more limitless any go in any direction within the song. keep in mind stephen is the guy on hexagram, passenger, and mein. his diversity speaks for itself. with chino's songs, they pretty much only have certain directions. i could have done away with xenon, lmirl, pitura infamante in exchange for what stephen can do by himself. phantom bride breaks new ground, even without the excellent solos, but jerry brings it up a super super notch. the title track is great: quiet verse heavy chorus and NO WEIRD TIMINGS (they do a good job of it, but im getting tired of hearing them all over the place everywhere now). hearts and wires is great, its like the knife on silent shout meets the smiths. prayers and triangles is underrated, everyone would like it more if they never put out swerve city. both songs are the same style, but seriously, prayers triangles is way better. give it a chance. geometric head dress reminds me way too much of mastodon, and i love mastodon, but when i pick up a deftones album i wanna hear deftones. acid hologram is incredible, every bit as evil as it is majestic as it is heavy. didn't like doomed user at first but i love it now. orange amps don't mix or master very well, and i can guarantee you thats why they had to remix and the album once or twice before getting what we have now. they are subpar crap, but they're endorsement happy. stephen playing mesa boogies, diezels, or bogners would make me happy. with their next album, maybe it be eros or whatever is next, we need more stephen. its been two straight albums of chino taking the wheel. all of around the fur and adrenaline was all stephen taking the wheel, and that's fine with me. diamond eyes was half stephen and half chino, saturday night wrist was mostly chino, white pony was half and half, self titled was two thirds stephen one third chino. supposedly, eros was very led by stephen and also chi playing guitar. for the record, this article is wrong when it talks about eros. ive read numerous interviews of stephens and others, where they said instrumentally the album is DONE. but chino has only sung over half the songs. all chino has to do is finish singing the other half and it's done. also i just wanna say stephen switching to orange amps was a bad, bad move. they are the single worst thing about guitar technology. the clean tones are really flat and colorless, the distortion is really buzzy and empty, no color or definition or mass to the sound. its like playing a plastic walkie talkie that's missing parts.
    travislausch
    Soooo... another week till my review goes up then? Anyways, great album. The UG Team review is pretty good, too.
    noodles_wazaman
    That's life dude. Find something a little less mainstream (no offence to Deftones...) to review and I'm sure you can get on the homepage
    travislausch
    Tried that. Didn't work. If there's a UG Team review, it goes up first and any other review waits several days, even if they were completed and submitted pretty much within a day of the album's release. That said, the review that's up is good. Probably better than mine!
    noodles_wazaman
    Hah true that, you're a good sport then. I was lucky enough to submit an album review during a quiet patch I guess.
    Iommianity
    It's weird, this album kinda feels like what I expected Eros to sound like based on how the band described it. There's a lot of ambience and dark electronic stuff going on in the background, not a hell of a lot of upbeat parts or huge choruses compared to the last album. I don't think I can think of another band that can honestly say they walked away from the nu-metal peak a heavier, yet way more dynamic and harmonically rich band. I can't really say why they sound modern to me, but every album just takes what the previous one did and expands on it big time.
    soapalot
    Today I felt an urge to listen to this album, and I did something I haven't done with it yet; play it loud! I've only listened to it on headphones for some reason. It's a ten fold better album played loud on a big grunty stereo.
    awmr1987
    This is a great album by a great band. Gore manages to conjure up some of the Deftones most beautiful and brutal sounds on this album. Although this was the case with other albums like Saturday Night Wrist, Diamond Eyes, and Koi No Yokan, Gore creates a very hard hitting, drug induced ambience that you don't often hear in many bands. Chino's vocals are still haunting yet rapturous and the Guitars are getting deeper and crunchier. I often like to think of the Deftones of being like the Pink Floyd of the modern alternative, metal scene. I'd give this albums between about an 8.5
    PuckMugger
    B-B-B-Boooooring!
    Funnyname99
    I think you'd have more fun if you kept Rollin Rollin Rollin Rollin, Whaaaaat! back to some more upbeat music. Downbeat has it's place; and this record manages to be downbeat, optimistic, heavy and light at the same time, which is a great aheivement
    alex720
    Easily my favorite album this year thus far. Also, I don't think Chino gets enough recognition for his guitar parts! Sure, his stuff isn't technical by any means but that intro to "Hearts/Wires" is just oozing with feeling. I think he also wrote the wicked intro to "Rosemary."