The Deftones are pioneers for their slant on heavy-meets-euphoric-meets-slow-meets-beautiful, and they’ve been successful in the ability to surprise. Thus, Diamond Eyes does not disappoint when it comes to strong, powerful and unexpected material. The eponymous opening track contains one of the most striking choruses from the band to date and the rest of the album carries on in the same vein.
A long four years separate Diamond Eyes from Saturday Night Wrist, four years that were sadly packed with peril for Deftones. Bassist Chi Cheng suffered injuries so severe in a November 2008 auto accident the band took a hiatus, eventually honoring prior touring commitments by hiring Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega, and eventually cutting a full album with him on board and scrapping a near-completed album in the process. Given this serious trauma, it’s only logical that Diamond Eyes functioned as musical therapy for Deftones, but the surprise is that it has little downcast lyrical angst-mining, preferring atmosphere to bloodletting.
Diamond Eyes is Deftones' sixth album since 1995. It's arguable that they hit upon their luxuriously savage sound somewhere between 1997's abrasive Around the Fur and 2000's epoch White Pony. Although within each of those and their subsequent releases, there have been attempts to subvert themselves – like the soft electronic experiments of 'Teenager', 'Lucky You' or 'Pink Cellphone' – their unique blend has often overridden these disruptions to the flow.
In 2008, while this metal act was working on its sixth full-length, a car crash put bassist Chi Cheng in a coma. (He remains in a minimally conscious state.) His bandmates sidelined those sessions and recorded this new album, Diamond Eyes, without him. The first third feels like primal-scream therapy, with frontman Chino Moreno howling himself even rawer than usual.
Take Deftones's groundbreaking White Pony alongside System of a Down's Toxicity and you've got the first and last argument for the whole nü-metal affair, everything worth remembering about the onslaught of post-Korn misfits who spent the decade warming up Ozzfest crowds for '80s metal acts well past their expiration dates. Which isn't entirely noteworthy in itself, as any metal-head interested in being more artful than Fred Durst had to succeed at exactly one thing: namely, not being Fred Durst. But, overachievers that they were, Deftones pushed themselves well ahead of the pack with each of their early releases, culminating with the classic White Pony, which blended the usual alt-metal influences (Tool, Faith No More, Nine Inch Nails) with the layered atmospherics of Pornography-era Cure.
Knocks every pretender to the band’s throne into the middle of next week. Mike Diver 2010 If there’s a criticism to be levelled at Deftones, it’s that the Californian quintet’s albums since 2000’s White Pony have largely foregone consistency for exploration that rarely leant itself to a cohesive experience. Though they successfully shook off any nu-metal shackles with said third album – an exercise in immersive, textural metal that blindsided the band’s rap-rock-loving (then) fanbase – their following records neither surpassed White Pony’s creative highs, nor emerged sequenced in such a fashion that the skip button wasn’t at least hovered over.