But as I’ve discovered lately, Deftones isn’t like most of their contemporaries. Their penchant for lush shoegaze and soaring melodies overshadowed their rap-metal tendencies over a decade ago. And since, they’ve only continued to create beautifully melodic alternative metal that doesn’t skimp on the punishment…
While the group’s ballads have always been thick on the ambiance and melody (see: “Digital Bath,” “Change (In the House of Flies)”), their heavier tunes have often felt tied to their dated roots—even on albums as recent as Diamond Eyes. On Gore, however, the only 90s ghost haunting about is the tuneful, Hum-like space rock that informs “Pittura Infamante” and “Xenon.”
What’s perhaps more remarkable is that while older Deftones albums had a (mostly) clear line between heavy and melodic tracks, Gore manages to do both at the same time (better than Saturday Night Wrist, better than Kai No Yokan). Opener “Prayers / Triangles” is the perfect example of this.
But even the heavier tunes have a melodic core. “Doomed User” chugs through alternating measures of five and six, until a melodic chorus breaks through like a ray of light. “Geometric Headdress” finds Chino screaming his head off, but the refrain (complete with an incredible off-time drum beat) is as soaring a melody as “Digital Bath.”
On the same token, the melodic tracks also have a bit of bite to them. “Hearts / Wires” alternates between some of the softest moments on their catalogue with soaring, punishingly heavy choruses. “Phantom Bride” follows up one of the most chilling ballads of their career with a break of heavy, heavy riffage.
All of this makes for what is not only one of the shining moments of Deftones’ career, but one of the finest pieces of alternative metal ever released.