Deftones Koi No Yokan Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

It stands, monolithic, as a testament to the power and tenacity of human spirit.

Mischa Pearlman 2012

The title of this, Deftones’ seventh studio album, is a Japanese term for the notion of love at first sight. Don’t be fooled, though – the Sacramento alternative metallers haven’t gone all soft and soppy.

Far from it, in fact. Koi No Yokan follows on from 2010’s highly acclaimed Diamond Eyes, and marks the band out – once again – as one of the most progressive and innovative heavy outfits operating today.

Balancing devastating, destructive heaviness with moments of nuanced tenderness, these 11 songs confront and comfort simultaneously, pushing and pulling in opposite directions but always moving forwards.

That’s something the band has had to do since November 2008, when bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a car accident that left him comatose. Although his condition has improved, he remains in a minimally conscious state.

Yet, as with the last record, his presence and energy can be felt here, flowing through these doom-laden, brooding soundscapes. It lends a vulnerability and sadness to these songs, because even if they aren’t directly about him, they nevertheless channel a crushing and ineluctable sense of loss.

It’s on Rosemary, a near-seven minute epic, that this is most apparent. A slow-motion dirge propelled by oppressive riffs and Chino Moreno’s ethereal, disembodied vocals, it floats in a vacuum of space and time, beautiful and punishing, heart-warming and -wrenching. And then, as the gut-churning guitars stop, a serene minute-and-a-half of blissful calm soothes and repairs the damage it previously inflicted.

Koi No Yokan, though, is very much a complete album – the sum of inseparable, interlinking parts. Certainly, the harrowing energy of Leathers and the graceful melancholy of Entombed are strong enough to stand alone, but it’s as a complete piece of work that this record truly thrives.

It stands, monolithic, as a testament to the power and tenacity of human spirit – the hope, love, pain and wonder of life. As such, it transcends the boundaries and expectations of its genre – even those previously set by the very band that made it. Love at first sight has never sounded so good.

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