Album Review

Deftones - Gore

Released: April 8, 2016
Dylan Sonderman

Gore is the eighth studio album by acclaimed alternative metal innovators Deftones. The California band has covered so much ground in their over 20 year career. From shoegaze, dream pop, nu metal, groove, even thrashy moments, there is little they could do to surprise me, other than putting out am uninspired, boring, or derivative record. In that regard, then, Gore is no surprise.
Released on April 8, 2016, the album shows a side of the band that has been apparent below the surface since 2000’s White Pony coming to the forefront. There’s a definite emphasis on melody over aggression, without really sacrificing much of the intensity the band is known for. To me, Gore shows the band really embracing some of their 80’s influences, such as The Cure and Duran Duran (Deftones have done covers of both bands in the past).

The band’s lineup consists of Chino Moreno on vocals and occasional rhythm guitar, Stephen Carpenter on guitar, Sergio Vega on bass, Abe Cunningham on drums, and Frank Delgado on samples, synths, keys, and other electronic implements. In particular, Gore gives Delgado room to shine, with its more electronic and lush approach.

I found it odd that Carpenter came out and said in an interview he didn’t like the style of playing the band wanted on Gore, because to my ears, this album features some of the most creative guitar work I’ve ever heard from him. The lead at the beginning of “Hearts/Wires” reminds me of 80’s Kirk Hammett, like the intro solos to “One” or “Fade to Black.” For some reason, the song reminds me of the band In Flames, though. Like a much more atmospheric and trippy In Flames. Perhaps the push and pull of tension created some of these interesting moments of compromise.

Speaking of cool guitar playing, “Phantom Bride” has a great solo from Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell. The riffs are compelling as well, and the hook might be my favorite vocal part on the album.

Lead single “Prayers/Triangles” opens the album with a watery lead riff, unlike anything I’ve ever really heard from Deftones before. Accompanied by a psychedelic music video, the song feels like an instant classic and a great addition to the band’s canon.

“Doomed User,” definitely the heaviest and most riff- and scream-driven song on the album, does feel like a bit of a throwback. It’s not a bad song at all, and the choruses of the song contain some nice soaring vocals from Moreno. It’s probably best for Gore though that this side of the band is more or less restricted to this one song (though the closing track, “Rubicon” also makes effective use of the heavy downtuned riffs). The textural explorations elsewhere need room to breathe and expand into fresh territory.

And as far as aforementioned fresh territory, I think “(L)MIRL” is one of the strongest tracks the band has ever written. The tenderness of the lyrics and the solemn clean guitar builds into a more emotional delivery from the vocals and a wash of release from the distorted guitars and driving drums.

I’d be surprised if any longtime Deftones fans stopped listening because of Gore. To me, the core sonic mission of the band is finding unique ways to juxtapose heaviness and anger with beauty and atmosphere. It’s a simple enough concept, but the group always seems to execute the idea in fresh ways. For a band reputed to be constant trailblazers, you have to admire their consistency.