Deftones’ Ohms, the ninth studio album from the Sacramento rock legends, has completely blown everything out of the water. I have loved the band since I was a teenager, and where others dropped off along the way, I have enjoyed every album they have produced—what can I say, I’m a sucker for the Duran Duran-esque ballads. But Ohms is something else. The sauntering and sonically devastating rock that the band have worked decades to pioneer is perfected on this album. Crushing guitar riffs and heart-pounding percussion, paired with Chino Moreno’s sublimely haunting vocals, have secured the group’s place in modern music history.
Ohms is a satisfying return to heavy-hitting guitar riffs and focused lyrics that are in your face but still have room to breathe. It is lethally beautiful yet alluring like a siren’s call. It pulls you in deeper and deeper over ten tracks and 46 minutes until you reach the other side.
Powerhouse opener and second single “Genesis” finds Moreno melodically pleading for grace during a creative rebirth and, though the verse veers toward more existential dread, he still makes it sound appealing. “Genesis” may be a slightly on the nose titling for the first track but it opens up a beginning half of Ohms which masterfully plays with dynamics and the natural divergence of the band.
Then comes the contrasting one-two of the dreamy and hypnotic “Ceremony” and the powerful metallic banger “Urantia”, where both songs contrast their initial nature and change. “Ceremony” is a bit chunkier in its delivery with its sinister undertones; “Urantia” is a touching love song, despite how despondent and macabre it initially seems. “There is no one left like you/ A picture-perfect strange/ Imagined in one shape/ Unchained“. Robert Smith would be proud.
Since the album’s release, “Error” seems to be a fan favourite that people believe is a worthy rival to any masterpiece from the White Pony album. I completely agree; it is one of the best tracks they’ve done and my favourite on Ohms—guess I’ll have to re-evaluate my Top 10 Deftones Tracks now.
Halfway through the album comes “The Spell of Mathematics”. This sludge driven track trudges slowly along with fuzzy bass and guitar tones. The song is a raw, emotional and psychedelic experience that you will not regret embarking upon. There is a floatiness to Moreno’s voice that carries him off into another realm and you can join him there.
Moving deeper into more mysterious and eerie territory is “Pompeji”, which uses sampling to give it a cinematic, almost Radiohead style grandiosity, with a vocal style somewhat similar to Tool’s Maynard James Keenan (who previously appeared on White Pony’s “Passenger”). It is haunting yet pretty until reaching a distorted chorus that appears out of nowhere like a monstrous shadow. The keyboard at the end reminds me so much of Angelo Badalamenti’s brooding and uncanny work, especially on Twin Peaks.
“This Link Is Dead” is the most furious song on Ohms, as Moreno exasperatedly confesses that he’s “filled up with true hatred.” It might be the heaviest Deftones have sounded in over 15 years, with Chino roaring with throat-shredding velocity. “Radiant City” and “Headless” reinforce Deftones’ penchant for gloomy rhythms. The bassline in “Headless” is absolutely massive, lurching and mean, while the latter is more reserved and slightly shoegaze-y, and another of my favourites for that reason.
“Ohms”‘, the album’s title track, is the tenth and final song and also serves as a thoughtful and optimistic reflection on the state of the world.
Deftones latest work of art is simply a reminder of their greatness. They have finally found the perfect balance between heavy and haunting. Flip-flopping between light and dark, yin and yang, peril and hope, Ohms is a gigantic undertaking, which is apt for the band who have nothing to prove to anyone but themselves.