Tackling a Deftones record for review these days is a bit of a challenge. Unfairly they are continuously lumped into the nu-metal world because of their earliest records and who they chose to associate and tour with. With the 2000 release of the seminal record White Pony, the Sacto fivesome left the nu-metal world in the dust and although Around The Fur and Adrenaline are much revered by their fans, that era is almost nothing more than a footnote in the history of what they’ve grown into. Here we are in 2016 and the highly anticipated Gore is among us and further distances itself from the bands nu-metal foundation.

Experimenting and pushing their artistic boundaries has become the bands’ forte and seemed to culminate with the release of 2006’s Saturday Night Wrist. Lots of atmosphere, melody, and at times drifted slightly into the realm of Space Rock. Even vocalist, Chino Moreno, showed a level of versatility that had never been presented in previous Deftones records. Saturday Night Wrist seem to test the bands limit of what they could do to their music without losing sight of what got them this far. Unfortunately, the record was written during a time of turmoil and was written separately. The end result was a bit of jumbled mess of guitar tricks and huge Meshuggah influenced breaks that never quite came together. The band was clearly onto something but the record could have been so much more.

By more, I meant to say Gore. The bands newest release seems, to me at least, what Saturday Night Wrist should have been. Once again the band opted to experiment very heavily on this record. Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan worked on the building blocks that White Pony start and were more focused, this record is right back to airy atmospheric note playing with some monster downtuned riffs sprinkled in for good measure. However, there is a lot more direction with this record than the ADD Saturday Night Wrist. I attribute a lot of the cohesion to bassist, Sergio Vega. Between his tone and his playing, he creates an 80’s adult contemporary/smooth jazz vibe with some near sleazy bass hooks that hide just beneath the surface of guitarist, Stephan Carpenter, note noodling during the lighter portions of the record. Songs like Hearts/Wires, (L)MIRL, and Phantom Bride immediately gave me that Sade vibe and I was half expecting that vampire goddess to bless us on a track. (Note to Deftones: You should make this happen in the near future). Another great aspect to the record is that there are actual riffs again on this record. They are something that hasn’t really happened since the 2003 self-titled record. Never hiding that Meshuggah has become a huge influence on Carpenter’s guitar playing and song writing, it seemed that he grown to in love with just playing those chuggy djent riffs, that the Swedes made famous, that he forgot how to write something more traditional. The strongest track on the record is Doomed User and its main riff seems like it could have been a part that just missed the cut for Adrenaline. While the Deftones have grown into a genre of their own, it’s nice to hear them ground themselves a little bit with something simple.

While I love records like White Pony and Diamond Eyes more than I like Gore, this is still an exceptional album and a vast improvement from Koi No Yokan, which was also a really, really good record. My beef with KNY was that it was a total album that was best played in its entirety. To me, it didn’t have enough diversity to have any of the tracks stand out on their own. Sometimes that’s not necessarily a bad thing but you kind of have to be in the mood to want to listen to a 52 minute record straight through. In Gore, each song has its own true character while still holding firm to an overall theme to the record. It’s Saturday Night Wrist with Diamond Eyes’ focus.

Once again, the Deftones prove to be in a league completely on their own. Gore will be a highlight record for sure this year and I fully expect it to top a lot of top 10 record lists at the end the year. Don’t slip, go grab Gore today and rock the fuck out.