Words by Alex Payne
Image via Pomona PR
There’s only a select few nu-metal bands that most people would be comfortable admitting that they listen to, but Deftones are likely one of them. While the label isn’t strictly accurate, it’s not hard to see why a handful of angry dudes in wide jeans wielding guitars from Sacramento got lumped in with the likes of Korn, Coal Chamber and Linkin Park. What is surprising though is how well they’ve managed to balance commercial success with critics’ approval so consistently over almost three decades. Whereas their contemporaries were pressured by labels to exclusively pursue the former (Trapt, Hoobastank and Incubus all spring to mind) and were subsequently remembered for being one hit wonders, Deftones have experienced an almost unparalleled longevity, releasing nine well received albums.
From the enigmatic lyrics, the experimental bent and the blistering choruses, Ohms is pure, uncompromising Deftones. Opening with Genesis, a track that beautifully showcases the contrast between Moreno’s hushed purring vocals and hair raising screams, the album oozes confidence. Sonic diversity comes thick and fast in Deftones records, and for Ohms, it comes early, as the following track Ceremony shifts gears and introduces bright guitars and a woozy chorus that wouldn’t be amiss on a Kasabian track. Similarly, Stephen Carpenter’s love of thrash is especially apparent on the track Urantia, which opens with a blistering riff, before introducing some spectral synths that haunt the background of the track. Despite their experimental reputation, this is one of the first occasions that the band have explored Thrash, and it’s a resounding success. Pompeji is one of the more delicate tracks on the record, and the heavy use of synths is reminiscent of their 2016 release Gore, but Moreno’s brutal delivery of “Jesus Christ” echoes the infamous refrain (“Shove it”) on My Own Summer. Just when you think that you’ve got the track pegged, however, it finishes on a glorious ambient section, rich and cinematic. Reunited with original producer Terry Date, it’s clear that Ohms sounds exactly how the band intended it to – and it serves as a reminder of why Deftones are still relevant thirty years on.