These Sacramento heavyweights have left fans waiting for four years with baited breath for the follow-up to ‘Saturday Night Wrist’ and finally it’s here. However, rather than the tentatively-titled ‘Eros’ (the release of which was further delayed by the serious car accident which has left bassist Chi Cheng in a coma), we have this complex and reflective dark beauty, which features former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega.
In light of recent events, it would be easy to paint this entirely new album with the dark cloud of depression – and frankly, who could blame the band if they had done that? – but like its moniker, ‘Diamond Eyes’ is the glimmering representation of a band who’ve turned a series of negative proceedings into a colourful collection of tracks – and possibly their most progressive, dynamic and best work since the 00-released ‘White Pony’ (yes, we went there).
Loaded with the characteristic low-register and brooding deep grooves the band have become known for, ‘Diamond Eyes’ is an album of textures which attack and bite one moment and allow you to float off the next, all with an undercurrent of vitality and pulsing with a curious new energy. Perhaps the inclusion of Vega has added a sense of renewal to the core of the band as, rather than merely stepping into the shoes of their fallen comrade, he seems to have injected a renewed sense of purpose within the ranks and even appears to be leading the charge on tracks such as ‘You’ve Seen The Butcher’, which has a bruising bassline that turns into a seductive, snaking strut up the fretboard during the chorus.
With Abe Cunningham’s drumming providing the heartbeat, ‘Beauty School’ sidles up like a sweetly romantic offering – that is until Chino Moreno’s mesmerising vocal reminds you that you’re in Deftones territory. With his opening refrains “I like you when you take off your face / Put away all your teeth and take a swing at me / You could die if you take it alone…” any tender notions are replaced with cutting and evocative imagery that drives in much deeper than any straightforward love song. There are echoes of Helmet in the jagged riffery and subtle discordance of ‘Rocket Skates’, while the subtle, minimalist and even sensitive sonics of ‘Sex Tape’ belie the seedy-sounding moniker, inducing a floating, almost trance-like state via layered guitar work and Chino’s hypnotic vocals.
There’s certainly nothing trance-like about the punishing judder of the title track opener which, together with the intense, whirling, dervish-like, swinging hook of ‘Royal’, will lodge in the grey matter and refuse to budge (yes, you’ll even be hearing these babies in your sleep). However, it’s the stellar-sounding closer ‘This Place Is Death’ that perfectly demonstrates the striking yet violent contrasts that make album number six a masterpiece. Like finding a pearl in the bottom of a murky bed of sand, ‘Diamond Eyes’ is a real gem.