Album Reviews

DEFTONES – KOI NO YOKAN – REVIEW: THE BAR CONTINUES TO RISE

Koi No Yokan. A premonition of love.

A Premonition of Love. The English translation of the title of Deftones 7th full length effort is like love at first sight for an intellectual; a more educated understanding of a term thrown about all too loosely. This term can go a long way to distinguishing the differences between love and lust, and the potential to fall into the former, and is a title fitting for the aural space-trip that Koi No Yokan undoubtedly is.

Koi No Yokan is unmistakably Deftones. The delicate balance of Stephen Carpenter’s brash guitars with Chino Moreno’s crooning vocals, and the circulation of loud and quiet interacting seamlessly, is executed as well as the Sacramento rockers have ever managed. The mere title of opening track Swerve City illuminates the listener to a dynamic, bustling metropolis, ridden with injections of neon light and unadulterated, pent up energy. Trademark big guitars and thoroughly Moreno-esque vocals are undertowed by a shoegazing bassline, with no time being wasted before you’re plunged headfirst into the Deftones answer to Tokyo during rush hour. 2 minutes and 45 seconds of Swerve City is enough to set the scene and leave you in the midst of the City itself; a base and a platform for the band to play a typically dynamic set in the form of Koi No Yokan.

The album, on the whole, is excellent. The band, under the supervision of returning producer Nick Raskulinecz, have managed to fill the record with consistently solid tracks that run into one another like a jigsaw falling into place, almost like the premonition of love blossoming into fruition as the space-trip progresses. However, as far as album highlights go, second track Romantic Dreams really is a testament to songwriting in its essence. Fitting with the recurring motif of the progression of something turning into love, and the rollercoaster it will inevitably be, the track is a plethora of unexpected tempo shifts and tranquillizing, circular riffs. Over their time writing music, Moreno and Co. have managed to perfect the quantum of revitalising a song from within itself without even needing to do so, and Romantic Dreams is a shining example of this trait.

It is definitely worth a mention that Sergio Vega’s role on Koi No Yokan is sublime. The bassist, standing in indefinitely for Chi Cheng, is flawless throughout, from the dreamy shoegazing of his part in Swerve City to the finality of his groove in album closer What Happened to You?. The podracer-like thrash that precedes another highlight, Poltergeist, is the nucleus of the track’s undiluted aggression, interacting in stark contraposition with metronomic handclapping and showcasing the ever-evolving dynamics of Deftones as a band.

The exciting, enchanting, and inevitably frustrating rollercoaster that Koi No Yokan represents continues to be characterized throughout the album, with tracks such as Entombed and Rosemary broadcasting the differing emotions that grow in and out of prominence during the course of any fairground ride. This allows Carpenter an ample opportunity to continue to show his unique style and let his guitar weep or yell accordingly, whether beautifully or with all of the exhaustion of a magnitude 10 earthquake. The inhales of Entombed and Rosemary to the exhales of Graphic Nature and the excellent Goon Squad, which maintains the albums solidity until the very end of the journey, continue to typify the message of the album and maintain its strength.

This really is a fine effort from the six-piece from Sacramento. It is a token of the bands ability to go from strength to strength even in the wake of Chi Cheng’s tragic departure. Where some bands would have combusted or gave up in respect to Cheng, Deftones have used the tragedy to add a further dimension to their music and further enhance the inexorable rumination that was first showcased two years ago with Diamond Eyes. In Koi No Yokan however, they have delivered an even more complete record that runs for 52 minutes of seamless progression that pulls you into Swerve City, the metropolis established in the opening track. The album acts as a stringent metaphor to its title, and is a perfect ideal to display the strengths and the creativity that this band have consistently shown they possess in absolute myriad. A stellar effort. Koi No Yokan scores a thoroughly deserved 91%.

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2 thoughts on “DEFTONES – KOI NO YOKAN – REVIEW: THE BAR CONTINUES TO RISE

  1. Top review Carl, previously I was always of the opinion that Deftones would never be the same without the mighty Chi Cheng. However their albums since his tragic accident have gone from strength to strength. Chino is on top form, Abe’s tremendous drumming and Carpenters thrashing riffs give an amazing sound that is unmistakable!

  2. Thanks Dave. Yeah I know, Diamond Eyes was excellent but this one really blew me away. Such a complete album, it really is an excellent record and they continue to refine that meticulous science of balancing the brash with the gentle. Such a fitting title and tracklist to support it.

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