Sound — 9
The Deftones are back with a CD that once again challenges traditional musical structure and succeeds in their quest. Saturday Night Wrist is a solid release that never hesitates to throw different sounds or tempos at you, which may or may not throw some listeners off guard. There are not a lot of singles on the album, but that fact in itself makes the CD a refreshing alternative in today's music world.
Saturday Night Wrist does not start off perfectly, but the Deftones (vocalist/guitarist Chino Moreno, drummer Abe Cunningham, bassist Chi Cheng, keyboardist Frank Delgado, and guitarist Stephen Carpenter) quickly remedy the situation. The first track Hole In The Earth is actually somewhat disappointing because in some ways it sounds like plenty of other bands and never strays from its original slow-tempo format. There's nothing wrong with building up to a climax if you're a band, but Hole In The Earth is just a little too subtle in its approach. While there are some nice ethereal guitar work from Carpenter underneath the majority of the song, not a lot stands out about the song.
Combat offers the best of the Deftones on the latest CD. With its continued rising and then falling tempo, the track captures that mysterious feel that make the Deftones stand apart from other contemporary bands. The song manages to encompass multiple sounds -- from the smooth chord-driven chorus to a manic attack on the verse sections. While Moreno uses his silky delivery for the majority of Saturday Night Wrist, he unleashes his screamo side on this track. But unlike a lot of screamo bands, Moreno growls at appropriate times that allow the song to transition from section to section easily.
Guest appearances by System Of A Down vocalist Serj Tankian and Giant Drag's Annie Hardy do provide an interesting break in the usual Deftones sound. Tankian's vocal addition in Mein is unfortunately brief and the song actually could have benefited by a bit more of his presence. Hardy's work on Pink Cellphone is more of a sexy speaking role, but she does succeed in making the track stand out from the rest.
The Deftones never have done things the traditional way and that's what consistently makes them an intriguing band. Saturday Night Wrist, although it has some flaws, is no exception to this fact. At times, the band almost feels Radiohead-ish in that its heavy use of minor chords and the smooth vocal delivery of Moreno. For listeners seeking out accessible, chord-driven records, the Deftones will be a hard listen. But the band should be commended for exploring new ways to mold rock songs.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics on Saturday Night Wrist are succinct and not necessarily as elaborate as the band's music, but they aren't always audible anyway. The odd themes associated with the songs actually fit the nontraditional musical formats as well.
In Mein, it is a bit hard to clearly make out what Moreno is singing about, but there does seem to be plenty of emotion behind the thoughts. He sings, I'd like to pull you into me; Intercept you in between; But I will never walk without, outside. These are intimate thoughts he is having -- regardless if it is love or hate that is motivating them.
The band once again poses unusual and likely unanswerable questions in Beware. Moreno sings, Do you like the way the water tastes? Like god's fire; For you but you could never say; Then come forth 'cause it's coming round. The lyrics are not the easiest to take in and some listeners might find the abstract ideas a bit too pretentious. But the Deftones do a pretty fine job of making the words just as unique as the music.
Overall Impression — 9
The Deftones' latest CD is one that you'll likely need to listen to several times to get the full effect. There are so many layers of sound in each song that every time you pop Saturday Night Wrist in your CD player, you're bound to hear something completely different than the time before. For fans of catchy hooks and melodies, the Deftones will probably leave you yearning for your Fall Out Boy album, but the band isn't striving to be a child of MTV.
While the guest vocal appearances do add a nice contrast in the CD, the band has written songs that don't need to rely on any extra help. While the Deftones haven't quite made a masterpiece, they have created an album that sounds like nothing else out there -- and that's a godsend in itself.