Another overall hit album from Deftones. Some tracks may be a little out of place but several will go down as essential Deftones.
Gore is the eighth studio album from American metal band Deftones. It marks 21 years since their first album, Adrenaline, and their first album since the death of long term bassist Chi Cheng in 2013.
Coming off the back of two incredibly well received albums, Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan (both of which earned them high praise and numerous album of the year accolades), it was always going to be a difficult task for Deftones to strike gold once again, despite having seemingly done it with each new album. With Gore, there are definitely moments of brilliance, as is accustomed with Deftones and their experimentation and willingness to adapt are admirable, but the album doesn’t quite strike the same level of consistency as their previous work.
Opening track ‘Prayers/Triangles’ showcases a more measured Deftones, similar to past hits ‘Change (In The House Of Flies)’ and ‘Tempest’, and sees the band open the album in blistering style. Both this song and the next, ‘Acid Hologram’, seemingly act as a buildup to ‘Doomed User’. It’s the indisputable highlight of the album as Deftones, to paraphrase James Hetfield, “bring the heavy” with a blend of guitarist Stephen Carpenter’s trademark heavy riff work and a Led Zeppelin-esque sound, accompanied with Chino Moreno’s signature vocals. Deftones are at their best when the chains are off, as seen with songs such as ‘7 Words’, ‘Back to School’ and ‘Rocket Skates’, and you can now add ‘Doomed User’ to this list of hard hitting, no-nonsense metal excellence from the band.
Title track, ‘Gore’, does what it says on the tin; it’s heavy and it’s brutal, particularly in its chorus. The song is drummer Abe Cunnigham’s chance to shine and Carpenter is more than happy to churn out trademark Deftones riffing over the top. ‘Phantom Bride’ is a change from Deftones’ regular sound but a welcome one, a searing and emotive track which features some excellent guitar work. ‘Rubicon’ is another unrestrained piece of greatness and closes out the album in style.
However, whilst the aforementioned Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan featured numerous well written and memorable songs, any of which could be featured among Deftones’ greatest hits, Gore lacks slightly in this department. A couple of songs seem too simple and easy for the band, as if they made songs just to fill up the numbers.
This is most evident in ‘Hearts and Wires’ and ‘(L)MIRL’. The tracks seem out of place and forced, Carpenter’s work is uninspired and he seems genuinely disinterested, the former track is one which he specifically stated that he struggled with during recording.
Tracks such as ‘Pittura Infamante’ and ‘Xenon’ aren’t bad at all, but they fall ever so slightly short of what we’ve come to expect from metal’s most consistent band, simply good but not great, that’s the bar that Deftones have set themselves. I could happily put Koi No Yokan on and listen to it all the way through without skipping a track but some of the content of Gore I struggle with.
All in all Gore is another great album by the band, featuring some excellent tracks and trademark Deftones elements that will endear it to fans, and for that I highly recommend it. However you may wish to cap your expectations if you were expecting another top to bottom instant metal classic. The band have come along way since 1995’s Adrenaline and Gore is probably their most experimental album to date. This experimentation works in doses but not in full swigs, but there is enough classic Deftones for you to sink your teeth into and fall in love with.
Gore is out now via Reprise Records.