Edited by Brett Buchanan
“Out of respect for Pac, Big, Stevie, Michael, Hendrix, ‘Gore’ is ONE of the greatest albums not the greatest, just one of.”
-Chino Moreno, after Kanye West said that his album The Life of Pablo was the “greatest album of all time” …and truth be told, Moreno was right about Gore, it’s actually great (however, the jury is still out on The Life of Pablo).
(The next few paragraphs might sound like a concert review, but bear with me… there is a point.)
It was a cold December day in Columbia, Missouri, a blizzard was brewing and it came at the worst time, because Deftones had a show scheduled there on this day. The concert was put on by The Blue Note, one of the city’s few theater size concert venues. However, the concert was moved to the Holiday Inn Expo Center due to the demand for tickets. The Expo Center was large enough to hold a few thousand standing room only concert goers. Luckily for me, I was working retail at the time right across the street from the venue (which meant convenient parking as well). During work that day, I was constantly checking The Blue Note web page for a postponement or cancellation, and to my surprise, one never came.
After work, I walked in the blizzard across a couple parking lots to the venue. When I got there, about twenty fans were in line waiting out the hammering snow. When doors opened, the line had grown to just over a couple hundred fans, making it obvious that many people didn’t want to go out in the poor weather. But for those dedicated few, Deftones put on one of the most intense concerts I have ever witnessed. Despite the poor conditions outside, the band killed it, playing a full set and encore to just a few hundred dedicated fans. In an evening that they could have easily postponed, cancelled, or cut the show short, they played for well over two hours.
That concert is an example of the spirit of this band, and it’s that same spirit that has enabled them to create one of their greatest works yet in Gore. The release will also be almost three years to the day of the passing of frontman Chino Moreno’s childhood friend, and Deftones bass player, Chi Cheng, who suffered an automobile accident in 2008 that left him in a comatose state until his death in April 2013. Deftones are unique in the fact that when faced with adversity, they have the ability to channel their emotion and make great records and play great shows.
Their latest effort, Gore, also exemplifies the fact that Deftones’ music combines aspects of many genres. For example, metal heads who don’t like alternative rock are fans, alternative rock fans who aren’t fans of metal are fans, and even fans of emo are known to listen to some Deftones from time to time (on Gore, see “Hearts/Wires” and “Phantom Bride”).
In comparison to past Deftones albums, their growth as a band has reached a creative pinnacle with Gore, with the band staking claim to a land of experimentation in a perfect union with their early angst and their current state of evolution. Gore is an achievement that many great veteran alternative rock bands have attempted, but are often times unsuccessful, which is recording an album that embodies their progression as a band, while also capturing the energy and emotion from their first few records.
Another aspect of this album compared to many of their contemporaries is that the entire album is solid, with the first half being just as strong as the second. The tracks on Gore match up toe to toe with tracks on the band’s most popular albums, White Pony and Around the Fur. Many 90’s era bands that are still making records have a point in their current releases where the album trails off and a large portion of the album is weaker than the rest. However, with Gore, Deftones show that there is still at least one band that was popular in the 90’s that is still expanding the realm of their creativity and creating consistent records.
Tracks like “Hearts/Wires”, “Pittura Infamante”, “Xenon,” and lead single “Prayers/Triangles” showcase Moreno’s vocals, whose lyrics and melodies are on point. Moreno has that rare ability to find the perfect space and tone to make his vocal lines ease perfectly into the music, where it never sounds muttered or forced. Additionally, along with “Hearts/Wires”, “(L)MIRL” is a track that contains some of the best melodies of Deftones’ career, while another album standout, “Phantom Bride” featuring Jerry Cantrell, is progressive in nature. The track starts out melodic with Moreno overlaying the track with brilliant vocal harmonies, until it slowly builds to the culmination of monster guitar riffs, with somewhat of a Pink Floyd vibe. This then leads to the last track “Rubicon”, which is their best album closing track since Around the Fur‘s “MX”.
Gore also has more surprises than all of Deftones’ previous albums, such as the track “Doomed User” in which guitarist Stephen Carpenter veers away from the script and surprises the listener with some stellar guitar work. The tracks “Gore” and “Acid Hologram” also allow Moreno’s searing vocals to work hand in hand with great metal hooks from Carpenter. These three tracks are mean, and actually sound like they could fit perfectly on Adrenaline and Around the Fur, which will be a delight to fans of Deftones’ earlier work.
Gore may very well be the best album of Deftones career, which is truly remarkable for a band that has been together for the better part of thirty years. When many other bands that have been around that long have had their best creative period come and go, Deftones are giving both new and old fans something to bang their heads too. It contains tracks that could match up with the best tracks from their earlier work, and at the same time it is a zenith of collaborative experimentation. With Gore, Deftones created their best record in at least fifteen years and have in turn ensured a strong level of relevancy in a time that rock music is on the back-burner.
Released: April 8th, 2016