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Monday, July 02, 2012

Deftones -- Diamond Eyes


Can Deftones be happy and still make great music? After years of personal turmoil, things finally came to a head for Deftones when bassist, Chi Cheng, got in a coma-inducing car accident. Whether it was the sudden realization that life should be appreciated, or the simple fact that the other four members lives seemed to be getting back on track at the same time, something within the band changed. The four remaining members picked up a fill-in bassist, Sergio Vega, and decided to forge ahead. The resulting positivity can be felt throughout Deftones' sixth full-length album, Diamond Eyes, but almost shockingly, not at a detriment to the quality of the music.
That dude from U2 once said, “Anger is simple. Any artist knows he can do it with a black brush. That’s what rock is at the moment. It’s an easy thing to do: painting in black. Joy is something else. It’s much harder to create because you are dealing with something much deeper and much more emotional."
Well on Diamond Eyes, Deftones make it look easy.
Diamond Eye's opening title track sets the tone for the album. The guitar is very deep and heavy in the verse, but Chino's vocals are melodic and building until the band reaches the soaring chorus. Chino's melodies have never been as beautiful as they are on this album. It's almost subtle how good he's gotten at writing them over the years, and he stuffs Diamond Eyes full of them.
Musically, Diamond Eyes offers a very balanced attack. To get mathematical, about half of the songs balance the heavy riffs with the more beautiful vocals and chorus melodies, another quarter are aggressive, heavier tracks, and the other quarter are laid back, gorgeous "ballads." Well, a ballad as done by Deftones.

As you can hear, that is a very good thing.
Chino Moreno's Diamond Eyes lyrics hearken back to his more fanciful White Pony-era work, except painted in a far brighter, more romantic shade. Maybe it's just the fact that the TV series Lost ended at the same time as Diamond Eyes' release, but I get a real Hawaiian-twilight vibe from this album if that makes any sense. There are numerous ocean references, and the last song title is a straight-up Lost quote, so I don't think I'm that far off the mark. Whatever the case, Diamond Eyes might not be Deftones most ambitious or powerful release, but it's definitely the most lovely.

2010 Reprise/Warner Bros.
1. Diamond Eyes 3:08
2. Royal 3:32
3. CMND/CTRL 2:25
4. You've Seen the Butcher 3:31
5. Beauty School 4:47
6. Prince 3:36
7. Rocket Skates 4:14
8. Sextape 4:01
9. Risk 3:38
10. 976–EVIL 4:32
11. This Place Is Death 3:48

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