Deftones’ ‘Gore,’ revealing and raw

It’s been almost four years since rock and metal fans have heard any new, head-banging anthems from Deftones. Following their previous release, “Koi No Yokan” in 2012, the Sacramento rockers return with their eighth studio album, “Gore.” Since their debut album “Adrenaline” in 1995, very few bands have been as alluring and fierce as Deftones. All eight albums stand as their own unique anomaly; however, writing songs through devotion and strains of severance has tied together each member’s passion and artistry. Over the span of 21 years, it’s been hard to find too many bands that are willing to take the musical risk of bouncing back and forth between calming melodies and powerful, screeching riffs and vocals, each of which are capable of sending a shiver down your spine or completely melting your face.

With “Gore,” fans won’t hear the numbingly-heavy riffs of “Around the Fur,” nor will they hear the vigor or darkness of “White Pony” and “Deftones.” Instead, “Gore” holds an 11 track album of captivating and emotional storytelling while still challenging listeners with its poignant yet pleasant tones and songwriting. “Gore” hits listeners right away with a product of elation and turmoil coming from the album’s first single, “Prayers/Triangles.”

Lyrics like, “I will never walk this street again/ the only time I feel I’m not alone/ I pull my heart out, I wave it in the air,”  display one’s courage to battle through addiction.

“Doomed User,” provides more of the rough, blistering vocalslead singer Chino Moreno is known for.  Moreno’s vocals are what sets this album apart from previous works as his singing is smooth and precise for much of the album. His vocal range provides an intangible style that along with Abe Cunningham’s drumming and guitarist Stephen Carpenter’s immense chords and riffs, contrasts perfectly.

“Hearts/Wires” possesses a genuine beauty where each lyric flows with honesty. “Nothing can save me now / it’s what I believe / the slit in the sky when you left / is all I see.” Listeners can appreciate the songwriting and sincerity of emotions behind a song presumably written about the death of original Deftones bassist, Chi Cheng.

However, all albums come with their imperfections. Songs such as “Xenon” and “Acid Hologram,” match the rest of the album in terms of energy and sound, but they come off as somewhat of a mashup of previous songs with new titles. “Geometric Headdress” provides a melodic, raw chorus; however, the rest of the tone doesn’t quite fit the songs melodies. It’s a song that begins by taking you on a ride then abruptly breaks down on the side of the road.   
“Gore” does finish strong with “(L) MIRL” and “Phantom Bride.” These two songs once again present the mysterious subtleties that give them life. “Phantom Bride,” which features Alice in Chains singer/guitarist, Jerry Cantrell, brings it all together with the soft yet raunchy sound that Deftones has incorporated in so many songs. It’s a song that isn’t holding anything back in terms of style, which is a reoccurring theme of the band’s development and evolved sound. The lyrics represent fighting with one’s mental anguish and trying to make it through personal hardships.

“You spend your life sat in your void / where you will stay away / you waste your life relaxed in your void/where you will stay always.”

Album after album, Deftones have constantly changed the realm that metal bands are typically trapped in. They’ve challenged themselves to write unique songs and expand on their ever changing art form without hesitation. This is one of those albums that sounds different every time it’s played. It changes with mood, it changes with feeling, and it changes with passion.

Deftones proved their relevance and their ability to make impactful music. Maintaining success in the music industry isn’t always pretty, and “Gore” reminds listeners what exactly success looks like.