The seventh full length from Sacramento’s Deftones exemplifies the energetic blend of the atmospheric and the heavy over the course of 11 tracks. It features extensive riffing, haphazard tempo shifts and Chino Moreno’s emotionally full vocals — all mashed into a California-tinged sunset.
Koi No Yokan, which means “Love’s Premonition,” is dreamlike. It is an enthralling piece of work, but it’s also ripe with rough edges that keep the group as close to the proverbial ground as possible. It pertains to love at first sight, after a fashion, and seems to involve every ounce of that engrossing but stunning action with every stroke of sound. The feeling is immensely powerful at the outset, but it also deepens with time as more emotions cloud in.
In a lot of ways, Koi No Yokan is the conceptual cousin of White Pony, the outstanding 2000 release that cemented these Deftones as a band not fucking around with nu-metal tropes but establishing rules of their own. They subsequently shattered those rules with releases like Diamond Eyes and their 2003 self-titled album, but the pieces were always meant to be put back together in some way or another.
Chino Moreno (vocals, guitar), Stephen Carpenter (guitar), Frank Delgado (turntables, keyboards), Abe Cunningham (drums), and Sergio Vega (bass) have crafted an involving album with Koi No Yokan that pushes the band forward without ever cancelling out the past. The essence of bassist Chi Cheng, who has spent a long time recovering from a terrible automobile accident, is all over the record as well.
The thump of “Swerve City” introduces the antagonistic Deftones out of the gate, with Moreno’s ghostly and seemingly detached vocals spiraling over a bulk of guitars and drums. Carpenter’s riff is spectacular and sprawling, built on an eight-string spasm that slinks and batters into crustier songs like “Leathers.”
There’s also the coarseness of “Poltergeist,” a razorblade of a song that finds the guitarist slicing and dicing while Moreno shouts through the haze. The surprising melody emerges acrimoniously but naturally, leading inexorably into the exquisite and bare “Entombed” in a way that makes perfect sense.
Indeed, most of Koi No Yokan leads the listener on these sorts of elegant journeys that volley relentlessly from the harsher elements to moments of sublime beauty. It makes sense that the panting of “Gauze,” with its slashing and anxiety, pumps its guts into the beautiful and ambitious “Rosemary.” The blistering repetitive riff in the latter is astonishingly cool.
For the Deftones, love at first sight is all about shifting dynamics and mutable textures. Koi No Yokan exemplifies the quality of this expedition perhaps better than any recent entry in the band’s impressive catalogue, pushing forward and staggering back while recognizing that every strapping step is vital.
Article originally published at Something Else Reviews.