ALBUM REVIEW: Deftones – Ohms

“Deftones 2020” would be quite the fitting campaign slogan this year. Faced with frightening realities, unexpected downs, and challenging changes, Deftones have swooped in to provide a sonic escape and maybe even a ray of hope in a time that has been plagued by a series of unfortunate events. Though President Chino Moreno may seem like a stretch (for now), Deftones have spun these unforeseen circumstances and unprecedented experiences into something fans can hold onto during this period of struggle: the highly-anticipated LP, Ohms, due out September 25th (Warner Records). 2020 is also a hallmark year in the Sacramento-born band’s career, as they celebrate 25 years since dropping their searing debut Adrenaline, 20 years since releasing their incomparable album White Pony, 10 years since unveiling their emotive and piercing record Diamond Eyes, and one presidential term since gracing fans with their eighth studio album Gore. Now, vocalist Chino Moreno, guitarist Stephen Carpenter, drummer Abe Cunningham, programmer Frank Delgado, and bassist Sergio Vega welcome Ohms, 10 tracks of heavy and reflective material that mirror the emotional distress of the pandemic and lockdown, the political power struggle that the world is witnessing, and the internal conflicts many are facing.

Ahead of the release, Deftones have unleashed the opening track, “Genesis,” and closing/title track, “Ohms.” In addition to being bookends of the record, the two tracks demonstrate the yin and yang of the group’s sound, the seamless intertwining of airy and heavy vocals, and the push and pull between ethereal and aggressive instrumentation. Reuniting with producer Terry Date (Soundgarden, Pantera), who worked on their classic albums Around the Fur, White Pony, and Deftones, the band’s forthcoming material evokes the best qualities of Deftones past.

“Genesis” leads the album with a floating introduction that quickly explodes with Moreno lamenting, “I reject both sides of what I’m being told // I’ve seen right through now I watch how wild it gets,” setting the stage for the album, sonically and thematically. “Ceremony” marches forward with a breathy, atmospheric sound that contrasts with its dystopian lyrics. Groovy and brooding, “Urantia” and unrelenting “Error” reflect a longing for both passion and freedom. “The Spell of Mathematics” soars with distortion and ebbs and flows between pummeling drums and dreamy vocals. The album takes a breath on “Pompeji,” with a more balladic temperament and swaying tempo, while “This Link is Dead” and “Radiant City” dive back into unstoppable ferocity and gripping guitars. The penultimate song, “Headless,” delivers punches with driving bass lines that juxtapose with buoyant choruses and haunting melodies, a contrasting dynamic that Deftones have mastered. “Ohms” briskly launches into expectedly joyous melodies with mesmerizing riffs and cathartic grooves, concluding the album on a much-needed, energetic high note.

In times of uncertainty, Deftones have risen to the occasion and offered listeners an outlet to channel their frustrations. Ohms shows that even with the ever-changing landscape, the band stands out and conquer with their creative prowess. Keep your eyes peeled for the new record out everywhere on September 25 and more news surrounding the release of a remix LP, Black Stallion, which will feature all-new remixes of White Pony tracks.

Buy Ohms here:

9 / 10