REVIEW: Deftones – Koi No Yokan

deftones koi no yokan

Artist: Deftones
Album: Koi No Yokan
Genre: Alternative metal
Label: Reprise

I had originally wanted to write a one sentence review of this, citing a section of Tolkien describing the beauty of an Elven lair and then putting “Add metal” after it. It wouldn’t be too far from the truth. Anyone who feels metal can’t be beautiful has obviously never listened to Deftones, for they’ve spent their career crafting crushingly effective metal tracks disguised in the sensuous gleam of grace and eroticism. Koi No Yokan is masterful. It is textbook Deftones and yet, at the same, offers so much more – it’s adventurous, it’s exotic, it’s dramatic. It smacks of a cerebral intensity and contained ferocity that goes above and beyond the dark romanticism for which they’ve always been known.

The album title roughly translates to ‘anticipation of love’ or ‘premonition of love’ and is justly chosen. It takes the grandeur and power of the band’s past albums and enhances them, with a fearless dominion over all its songs. It is interesting to observe how well vocalist Chino Moreno actually summed up the album’s sound in an interview with Billboard earlier this year, where he said that the band had “reached a peak on [their] dynamics on this record with those two qualities – the beauty of something and just straight, ruthless aggression.” Many of the tracks fall under one of these two headings – something crafted and seductive or something more sinister. The band frame these moods with waves of piercing, elegant backing effects and Moreno’s trademark vocalising, capturing all with rhythm and texture and rugged artistry.

They open the album in surly style with “Swerve City,” a bruising riff ambling menacingly along as a litany of effects fade in and out over Moreno’s vocals. The mix of light and dark gives the album an early sense of intrigue and mystery; stirring images of triumph and fall. “Leathers” buries a feral aggression and rage in its searing guitar work and the harangued sway of Moreno’s voice. Its conclusion is particularly momentous, with massive breakdowns and recoiling riffs providing an exhilarating climax to the track. Stripped of the sensuous elements, these “ruthless” tracks have a confrontational, even ravaging air that makes them appear suggestive at times and even paranoid. “Graphic Nature” highlights the band’s visceral, merciless approach. Its softer elements are minimal and it is vivid and alert, crashing through the speakers with an air of sudden realism far removed from some of the album’s sultrier corners. This insistent, throttling heaviness also comes notably to the fore in “Gauze.” Formulated on a devastatingly effective rhythm, it is hunted and powerful, making ample use of its effects to convey something twisted and cacophonous.

The delicious brilliance of these songs only serves to make the deeper, dreamier tracks that much more bewitching. The tracks are interwoven in such a way that allows each moment of power and destruction to be offset or soothed by something more delicate and pristine. “Romantic Dreams” brings a lighter touch to Koi No Yokan after its opening track had blazed a violent trail. Its music is vacant and graceful; the lighter touch of the guitars and the distant vocals conveying thought and feeling. Moreno is intense and hypnotic, his voice burying a billowy mysticism amid the notes. “Entombed” is laboured and breathy. The winding riffs that lead the song are bathed in echoing chambers of sound effects. Moreno’s vocals are slow, consumed, and consuming – it is as magical as it is disgruntled, with its sharper moments rooting it in raw reality although the air is of something ethereal.

Yet, to say that each of the tracks on Koi No Yokan can be categorised under one of two headings is misleading. There are a number of lengthier, more complex songs that don’t fit easily into any category. “Tempest” and “Rosemary” are both gargantuan, epic offerings that build sounds and landscapes far exceeding the reach of this album. The instrumentation is sumptuously put together, evoking sobriety, unease, torment, and yet also resolution. The gentle conclusion to “Rosemary” acts as a kind of sombre reflection on what has gone before, bringing a peace and stillness to the song’s pursuits.

Koi No Yokan is an opus, and a terrific one at that. The band’s vision and skill remain second to none in their field and they have executed this record sublimely. It is filled with deep and twisting ravines and will absorb your attention utterly for quite some time.

SCORE: 10/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

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  • Killer opening line.

  • Grace

    Thank you kindly. From a Facebook comment to one of my friends, in fact. Procrastinating can be useful sometimes!

  • Richard

    Great review, completely agree with you. Possibly their best album yet.

  • i hope this album gets the respect it deserves and deftones get the respect they deserve as well- they have put out back to back KILLER albums. 10/10 and I agree!

  • Ryan The Lion

    I’m a HUGE Deftones fan. I’ve been listening to them since I was 12 year’s old. I’m 23 now and I finally got the chance to listen to the new album. I REALLY feel Chino is just trying waaaaay too hard. I also notice a lot of repetitive vocal range used in Diamond Eyes. Anyone else feel this way?