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The tragic story of Eros – the great lost Deftones album

(Image credit: Martin Philbey/Redferns)

Deftones’ 2006 album Saturday Night Wrist was made in tumultuous circumstances. The band split from longtime producer Terry Date early in the sessions, and singer Chino Moreno clashed with his replacement, veteran Alice Cooper/Pink Floyd associate Bob Ezrin – a situation not helped by the frontman’s battle with substance abuse.

By contrast, the atmosphere had completely shifted when Deftones began to write what would have been their sixth album in 2008.

“We were getting along so well during the Eros sessions. It’s like the music actually was even taking a backseat to our friendships,” Chino said in 2016. “We’d go into the studio, and we were way into playing the board game Risk at the time, so we’d set up this elaborate game of Risk that would last for weeks at a time. Terry Date was producing that record and he’d come in and be like, ‘C’mon guys, let’s get to work’ and we’d be like, ‘One more game.’ We were having so much fun together as friends and reconnecting – then during those sessions is when Chi had his accident.”

Deftones bassist Chi Cheng

Deftones bassist Chi Cheng (Image credit: Gary Livingston/Newsmakers)

The album that emerged from the sessions, titled Eros, was set to be released around the turn of 2009, with a new song, Melanie, tested during live dates. But tragedy befell the Sacramento band when bassist Chi Cheng was involved in a horrific car crash, leaving him in a semi-comatose state that he would ultimately never recover from.

Understandably shocked and saddened, Deftones shelved the album and started afresh, with Quicksand’s Sergio Vega taking on bass duties for the exceptional Diamond Eyes, released in 2010. Koi No Yokan and Gore have since followed, but as of yet the Eros recordings remain in the Deftones vault, for the most part.

To mark the one-year anniversary of Chi’s passing, Chino uploaded a song, Smile, to YouTube. Though it was taken down by the band’s label, it’s the only tantalising glimpse of an album that the band have been asked been questioned about ad nauseam in the years since, but are understandably apprehensive about revealing to the world. 

In an interview with The Independent in 2016, Chino was still unresolved on the matter. “Musically it’s probably 75-80% done and lyrically it was about halfway there, but honestly, I wasn’t too happy with the material we had. Some of the music was lacking a little bit. I had faith it was going to come together and be great in the end, but we never got to that point. Once Chi had his accident, everything came to a halt with the Eros sessions, so the idea of going back to that batch of songs, finishing them and have Sergio learn Chi’s parts just hasn’t felt like something that we’re interested in doing. If the record were finished and we were just sitting on it, we probably would have put it out by now, maybe even given it away, just so that people can hear it, but it would take a lot more work to get it done.”

However, in 2017 drummer Abe Cunningham seemed more optimistic that Chi’s final recordings could see the light of day. “If anything at all, I see some tracks from it coming out in some form or another,” Abe told Irish website Overdrive. “There is some really fucking bad-ass stuff on that album, but also stuff that’s not that good in my opinion. We know that there is interest in the album from the die-hards but I’m sure we will do the right thing at the right time with it… it’s something that could surface in the coming years.”

With the band currently expected to release album number nine before the year’s end, it seems Deftones are too busy to tidy up Eros for the time being. But compared to other albums, the door certainly seems far from shut on the final material recorded by Chi and his friends in those halcyon days of creativity and reconciliation. 

Published in Metal Hammer #332


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