Monday, October 22, 2012

Deftones Drift Into A Fiery Tempest

DeftonesIn advance of their upcoming Koi No Yokan album this November, the Deftones released the Tempest as an introduction to what promises to be a more dynamic sound. The single is a near prefect progression for the Sacramento-based alternative metal band, which continues to fine tune its experimental leanings.

There are dozens of the subtle change ups to expect this time out too. Most notably, guitarist Stephen Carpenter has changed from a 7-string to an 8-string guitar. Chris Moreno had previously noted that it would carry the heaviness of their more-than-decade-old album White Pony, but with the songs moving in several directions — sometimes at once with its riffs, interplay, and tonal qualities.

The Tempest is forebodingly beautiful, a frightening surrender.  

The Tempest rolls in with a soft, atmospheric instrumental at the open, broken only by singer Chino Moreno's soothing tenor in a whisper. It serves as both a hook to catch attention as well as a foreshadow that the dreamy and almost ethereal qualities of the song are headed somewhere big.

"Take out the stories they've put into your mind. And brace for the glory as you stare into the sky," he sings. "The sky beneath I know you can be tied."

On the last lyric of the first verse, the Tempest begins its ascent into a bigger sound, an impending avalanche driven forward by pulsing bass, keys, and drums. When Moreno re-enters with the second verse, he moves up the ends of days storyline another notch for maximum effect.

All in all, the Tempest is a journey, complete with a liftoff and destination. The foreboding qualities of the song are both cathartic and caustic. There is nothing left to do except enjoy the ride to its eventual climatic fury. And once they reach it, there is nothing left but an echoing memory.

The Tempest also represents the starting concept for Koi No Yokan, which originally began with studio conversations about the end of days. Of all the songs on the album, Moreno has said it best represents the album concept as a starting point, driven by Carpenter, whom he calls their biggest conspiracy theorist.

The band themselves don't necessarily subscribe to the notion that this will be their last album when the Mayan calendar runs out. But as a band that has largely avoided political and societal statements, the concept was an interesting place to start in capturing a sound and giving it technical perfection.

Leathers accompanies the single as a powerful B-side.

Originally offered up as an early street release, Leathers also begins with an atmospheric charge. It only takes the slightest spark to ignite into a furious wall of sound. Like Tempest, it flirts with the end of days concept but also helps the band break away from a singular concept album.

The lyrics suggest the the song may have started out with all the intensity of a judgement day, but then moved into the broader theme. It's mostly about letting go of the past, layers of labels that people hide behind. It's thick enough to be a second skin, albeit a fake one, and won't be very useful or protective.

The Deftones reset their direction, dynamic and heavy.

Both songs represent a heavier direction for the band compared to Diamond Eyes, which had been greatly influenced by the car accident that put bassist Chi Cheng in a coma. The Deftones had scrapped the album they were working on, Eros, in favor of starting over with Sergio Vega, former bassist of post-hardcore band Quicksand.

While Diamond Eyes was largely well received, it was a more optimistic album than anything they had produced before and a departure from what was meant to be a significantly darker and angrier album. Based on the first two glimmers from Koi No Yokan, it seems like the Deftones are moving back in the direction they originally intended before the tragedy.

The band still holds out hope that one day Cheng will return to tour with them. It is equally great to see the band continuing to evolve along its original course again with the release of Koi No Yokan.

The Tempest By The Deftones Dazzles At 9.5 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Both songs, Tempest and Leathers, are well worth the download. There has always been a synergy between members Carpenter, Moreno snf Cheng as well as Abe Cunningham (drums) and Frank Delgado (keys). Its also good to see Sergio Vega step up as a member and contributor, well earned after years of support.

Tempest and Leathers were originally offered as a single for download on iTunes, but now Tempest can be ordered off the Koi No Yokan preorder. You can also find the Tempest and preorder available on Amazon. While you can preorder the CD from Barnes & Noble, consider the limited edition bundle on their site, with 100 people who preorder the bundle receiving a signed lithograph by the band. For tour information, visit the band on Facebook.
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