In the past three years, the Deftones have endured a media backlash over comments made by Chino Moreno's distaste for their low-billing on the Metallica-led Summer Sanitarium tour of 2003, the controversy over his dedication to the acclaimed Team Sleep recor, and the requisite intensity that can escalate between most bands after 10-plus years together--especially if the band is one the creative driving forces in heavy music. The stripped, chainsaw sensibilities of Adrenaline revealed their blueprint toward the metal/hip hop hybrid. The atmospherics evolving around the anti-sophomoric Around The Fur would flourish across the fiercely hypnotic landscapes of White Pony. It's no joke to declare these dudes Radiohead with shark teeth and a switchblade. Reflective of Radiohead's still-fantastic Kid A, Saturday Night Wrist may initially toss some listeners aside. "Hole in the Earth" is awesome and their best song in years and yet, at first, doesn't seem cohesive with the remaining 11 tracks.
However, this is a challenging album. There sure as hell won't be another White Pony and they seem to want to drive that spike through the granite. This is an album of desperation and renewal. All the festering animosity within the band towards Chino's swaying allegiance and his own bitterness toward feeling cornered comes barreling out over 50 sweet-and-sour-bile-soaked minutes. The transcending urgency pushes the band tighter than a Swiss vault and Chino's vocal has never been so impassioned. The vast terrain across which he manipulates his pipes across is mystifying. Stephen Carpenter's guitars are equally nuclear as they are ethereal, given the album's mood. The rhythmic structure is back-broken courtesy of the flawless drumming and bass from Abe Cunningham and Chi Mcbride, respectively. Frank Delgado lends critical depth with his keys and delicate use of samples.
"Rapture" makes for an excellent second entry on the CD. It's a straight-laced assault eliminating any notion of calm or safety much like "Lotion" from Fur or "Elite" off Pony. "Beware" is a warning on the teetering fragility of Moreno's relations with his band and currently my favorite slice with an excellent chorus and a Head/Munky-esque breakdown. Think "Digital Bath" coupled with black widows and cigarette burns. I've never heard Chino as melodic as on "Cherry Waves," a provocation between separate depths: Oceanic (metaphorical) vs. friendship (literal) and how far would the listener go towards preserving either. The furious call and response of "Combat," a future major-rager in the set list, throws down the venomous gauntlet with: "Whose side are you on?/Whose side are you on?" Carpenter's guitars are what give "Kindracula" the kind of riffs that create a swinging, tethering feel that you know could snap back and lacerate any second. "Riviere," a slow-burner that eases listeners down gracefully tells of a rebirth: "She haunts the roads/and waits for a new face." The Deftones' new beginning is conceived, but the revelation remains clandestine; its presence is a shadowy lull lurking and waiting for the fog to recede.