Rescuing the band from a mid-noughties creative slump and some in-house, career-threatening personal squabbles, 2010’s Diamond Eyes represented less a return to form and more a haughty show of strength, an imperious display of focus and fire re-affirming just why Deftones managed to (unlike most of their peers) escape the nu-metal generation with credibility and renown still intact.
Indeed, this is a record which simply revels in sounding like Deftones, each of their singular sonic traits encapsulated in a filler-free forty-one minutes of thunderous metallic power and melodic fragility, and although some could argue that Diamond Eyes represents something of a back-to-basics approach, there is no denying the almost revelatory songwriting quality throughout, immediately apparent as the opening title-track explodes into action with its pulverising guitar motif and elegiac chorus.
Given the tragic circumstances surrounding the record – whilst working on the now shelved Eros, bassist Chi Cheng was involved in an awful traffic collision which would ultimately claim his life – it is worth noting that these tracks, whilst sometimes as brutal as Deftones have ever been, are also the band at their most uplifting. Thanks in part to Chino Moreno’s yearning, idiosyncratic croon (‘Beauty School’) and Stephen Carpenter’s gift for virile, brute-force riffs (‘Rocket Skates’) both reaching arguably career-best levels, that signature Deftones yin and yang feels like a therapeutic coming together of styles, their well established contrasts between light and shade all imbued with the same optimism and vitality.
Look to the inviting grind of ‘You’ve Seen The Butcher’ and a genteel, languorous ‘Sextape’ for some of the best here, however Diamond Eyes contains not a wasted second or a single misstep, and although born of hardship, provided the sort of second wind needed to drive away the black clouds of inter-band tensions and future uncertainty.
Words: Tony Bliss