Koi No Yokan, by Deftones
Suggested by Danny Nuttall
Koi No Yokan is my second ever Deftones album. I reviewed the first back as Album 43. That was Around the Fur, their debut release in 1995.
Do you want to know a secret? I don’t remember any of it.
It’s odd, this project. Reviewing three albums a day, capping at one thousand in a calendar year, means that I’m introduced to music at a breakneck pace. As my previous musical menagerie was rather threadbare, I’m likely meeting three new acts each day. I listen to an album, review it. and then, with the best will in the world, I press the metaphorical eject button and move onto the next.
It’s actually quite rare that I accommodate more than the highlight reel in my mental jukebox, as there’s precious little time to process anything. Sure, some songs and band dig their talons deep, clawing at my memory until they are earwormed firmly in place. Deftones, alas, were not one of those bands.
With a whopping seventeen years between their debut and the album up for review today, will Deftones have evolved into more than the forgettable alt metal I rated as a mediocre six?
After seven albums, you’d expect any band to sound a little tired. However, Koi No Yokan sounds a lot fresher than I anticipated. The years, it seems, have treated Deftones well. In my previous review, I levelled an accusation that Deftones sounded entirely 1995, but this release shows they can move with the times.
There’s all the expected ingredients, of course. You’ve got your bruising guitars, your forthright bass, your slamming drums, and your adventurous and changeable vocals. But this album seems wider, stronger, more accomplished than their distant debut. It’s a nuanced release, with a mature and composed sound. There’s little left of the Angry Young Men spouting their cookie-cutter alt rock staples to a sold-out Nineties crowd, but the talented act in their place mesmerise with an almost Prog Rock precision and a meticulous yet emotive aggression.
The opening track, Swerve City, comes in swinging like a right hook, all squealing tyres and nitrous oxide. It’s not the only bludgeoning brute force offering, as Gauze presents a similar drive, but this album has so much more than sledgehammers in its toolshed. Deftones muddy the waters with the insidious and jarring Rosemary, and look to the stars with the swirling Entombed. My standout track, the atmospheric Tempest, dwells on the prophesized Mayan apocalypse in the purest Prog Rock sound on the album.
Deftones have matured since their early days, but in doing so they have lost a little of their more venomous edge. By expanding their sound and striding for new horizons, sacrifices have been made. While not devoid of passion, there’s certainly fewer emotional bucks in the bank balance, and their considered direction does not lend itself to the creation of a musical barnstormer.
Koi No Yokan is an accomplished album, and I prefer it to Around the Fur. Sadly, it doesn’t have that One Inch Punch that collapses your chest and leaves you reeling. I give Deftones a fine 7/10, and a newfound respect. Hopefully, Koi No Yokan won’t fade from view as readily as their earlier work.