September 25, 2020 Deftones – Ohms (Album Review)
Over the last three decades there is no question that Deftones have been one of the most unique bands to emerge onto the Alternative Metal scene. First they made an impact with the raw energy of 1995’s Adrenaline, then they solidified themselves with 1997’s Around the Fur, and blew us away with 2000’s White Pony. The latter, recently celebrating its 20th anniversary back in June, in many ways is the blue print for the Deftones we all know today. Experimental ambiance, and at still quite intense, the band has consistently been at the top of their game.
Which leads us to present day where the band are back once more with their new album, Ohms, on September 25, 2020 through Warner Records. Their ninth overall studio album, it is their first since their 2003 self-titled album to be produced by Terry Date. Additionally, this is their first album in which Lead Guitarist Stephen Carpenter utilizes a nine-string guitar. And lastly, circling back to the pivotal White Pony era, Ohms album art was designed by Frank Maddocks, who also designed the iconic White Pony cover.
These footnotes in mind, you are probably wondering how Ohms stands out from previous Deftones albums? Well, it is really up to how you view the music, because, in truth, the band has been on the same trajectory for some time. For example, their previous effort, 2016’s Gore, was a very strong album that combined atmospheric elements with cerebral and introspective lyricism. Not at all breaking any new ground for this band, it still was a hell of a trip to listen to. That said, Ohms is equally as compelling as it unravels smoothly and evenly over the course of 10 tracks.
Extremely atmospheric, the instrumentation, plus some enticing lead ins as heard on “Genesis,” often leaves you lost in a dream and navigating freely. In this dream there are various emotions felt, some somber and some angry, but all very intense; all aspects that can be experienced on tracks such as “Urantia,” sorrowing “Error,” as well as the bipolar approach to “The Spell of Mathematics.” This is thanks to the varied inflections of Chino Moreno’s distinctive singing which dances from soft, sweet tones to some quite unsettling screams. Then there are deeply thoughtful moments scattered throughout as heard on “Pompeji,” breathy “This Link Is Dead,” and powerful single “Radiant City.”
In truth, it is difficult to pinpoint any single song on Ohms as a stand out, because the entire album flows together. For these reasons it really needs to be listened to as a collective effort to truly appreciate the journey, but that is not to say you cannot single out tracks for your listening pleasure such as any of those mentioned or others like the mesmerizing “Headless.” Which leads us back to question: What makes Ohms different from Gore or even 2012’s Koi No Yokan? Again, this is based on a listener’s ability to listen and make that decision.
All in all, this is an extremely strong effort with very thoughtful, well laid out songs that do not grow stale. Which leads us to what is really the distinctive quality if you are looking to compare previous Deftones works; Ohms has a very live feeling. This is something to be praised, because a lot of artists are producing albums too flawless and it can be boring. For Ohms, Deftones almost invites you into the room and you can feel the ambiance of Frank Delgado’s keys, the punch of Abe Cunningham’s drumming, and the pound of Sergio Vega bass. That said, the nine-string guitar used by Carpenter does add extra texture, whether you realize it or not. A fine moment in Deftones history, Cryptic Rock gives Ohms 4 out of 5 stars.