Bassist Chi Cheng still lies stricken in a hospital bed suffering from the impact of a serious car crash in 2008. However his influence extends way beyond the four walls of his room and it seems his bandmates have played with an unrivalled intensity since his accident. 2010’s 'Diamond Eyes' was a critically acclaimed return to form and in my humble opinion, 'Koi No Yokan' is even better.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say 'Koi No Yokan' the most enjoyable album I’ve heard this year. We noted the Deftones superior performance at the Rock En Seine Festival two years back and the revitalised presence of vocalist Chino Moreno together with the awesome guitar work of Stephen Carpenter reaches new heights on this album.
At one level this album represents a step back into a familiar Deftones style as represented on 2000’s classic, platinum selling 'White Pony', but it is exceptionally well put together and only serves to emphasise what a distinctive sound the band has developed.
Everyone in the band plays a vital part with the driving guitar of Carpenter supported by the rock solid rhythm section of Abe Cunningham and stand-in bassist Sergio Vega – who turns in a mighty performance – and texture specialist Frank Delgado. Moreno is in outstanding form and doesn’t put a foot wrong throughout.
The heavy churn of 'Swerve City' opens the album perfectly and the insistent riff with vocals floating on top is reassuringly familiar, quickly giving way to the more complex rhythms of 'Romantic Dreams', which develops an almost anthemic quality. 'Leathers' pulls back the intensity before letting rip and setting the tone for what follows.
Highlights include the insistent 'Graphic Nature' and the heavyweight 'Gauze', but the album is anchored by three longer tracks 'Tempest', 'Rosemary' and 'Goon Squad' where the band really stretches out and challenges expectations. 'Tempest' in particular stands out as a blend of mighty riffage, heartfelt melody and funky basslines – quite superb. 'What Happened To You?' might perhaps be a tribute to their absent comrade and draws 'Koi No Yokan' to a rather beautiful close.
All in all, the Deftones lay claim here to being the most serious and accomplished band of their generation – somewhat to the surprise of even their most ardent fans I’d suggest – and their seventh and, quite possibly their finest, album is as committed and focussed as you could possibly imagine.
'Koi No Yokan' is available to purchase at amazon.co.uk. Find more info at deftones.com.