The Maneater

A more polished, less disturbing Deftones

I am getting old. Increased body hair, a decreased tolerance for hard liquor and my penchant for napping all point to this piteous state. Even worse, the music I fully embraced and identified with at the advent of angst and melodrama (see puberty) is changing with me.

The Deftones, a band that exploded into the metal scene with a distinct and unique approach to fist-pumping and self-flagellation in the mid-'90s have seemingly cooled down since their seminal White Pony release in 2000. 'Tones fans were met with an anticlimactic, self-titled follow up album in 2003 that even the band has recently dismissed as a product of laziness. Yet despite a waning fan base and increasing waistlines, the Deftones' new release, Saturday Night Wrist, totes signs of both progress and renewal in just more than 50 minutes of play time.

The Deftones have proved that they're rock-savvy with an album that sounds as slick as it looks. Their unconventional sound rings a resounding bell, and like all of the previous works, Saturday Night Wrist is a mélange of hardcore punk tempos, metal-core grooves and post-rock dissonance mixed and blended exceptionally for even the most paltry of headphones.

The music is still the focal point. Deftones have one of the most solid and innovative metal drummers in Abe Cunningham, whose off beat bass drum and involving snare fills shame the 4/4 beater monkeys of other straight to radio rock projects. The oddly dissonant melodies of guitarist Stephen Carpenter and the driving (yet by no means conforming) lines from bassist Chi Cheng complement each other and create a disharmonious sound that cannot be recreated by even the most adept of garage bands.

Lead singer/screecher Chino Moreno experiments more with his hall-mark vocal contortions and along with the electronics of Frank Delgado, adds an eerie ambience that reaches a dark-pop sensibility on tracks such as "Beware" and "Cherry Waves."

The new album might ruffle some feathers in their fans' collective flock, with a work that borders more on melodic than menacing. Though the band brings the jarring minor key changes and odd time signature leaps in tracks like "Mein" (featuring System of a Down's Serj Tankian) and "Rats!Rats!Rats!" (a smarter version of their Grammy winning "Elite") the album resonates with a more pensive and reserved rhythm.

The 'Tones first instrumental track, coupled with the eerily trip-hop addition of "Pink Cellphone" that reeks of Aphex Twin, all point to a band at a crossroads in both style and salience; the poster boys of late-90s Nu-metal are now walking the line between head-banging riffs and slow motion, ecstasy ridden trances.

Saturday Night Wrist should be taken as a sign of new things to come. The band's transformation to melody and elements of electronica is proof of a band embracing change and the future — can the future handle a more polished, sad yet less disturbing auditory onslaught? I hope so; otherwise, I am already over the hill.


Artist: Deftones
Album: Saturday Night Wrist
Genre: Alt-metal
Record Label: Maverick Records
Release Date: Oct. 31
Most Listenworthy Track: 'Cherry Waves'
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Ms

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