It’s rare in a career spanning more than a quarter of a century that a band could make as few missteps as Deftones have. The Sacramento alt-metallers have rarely let their lofty standards slip below essential, but, even though many were hugely onboard with the more ethereal, experimental post-rock vibes of 2016’s Gore, there were some murmurings of discontent from fans that the album sacrificed too much in the way of heaviness. If you were one of those people then Ohms will definitely go some way to placating you and your tastes, as long as you don’t expect Deftones to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
Opener Genesis is expertly pitched between the slow-burning mystique of the previous album, yet it’s still dominated by a gargantuan Stephen Carpenter metal riff. It’s then followed by two songs that sting like a butterfly and float like a bee; Ceremony is woozy one minute and white hot the next, while Urantia chugs into view as if it is going to be a full-blown metallic stomper before pulling back to a gentle strut.
This dance continues for the rest of the song, and showcases everything that make Deftones so special. Their use of dynamics, the ability to be so heart-stopping beautiful yet outwardly aggressive, is the reason why so many people hold this band in such esteem. That push and pull is second nature to them at this point, and while it wouldn’t be correct to say that Ohms points the band in any new direction or draws from any new influences, Deftones are such masters at taming these contradictory, capacious sounds that the results are continually glorious.
Saying that, the second half of the record is definitely where the old-school fans of traditional heaviness will have the most joy. Pompeii is a tricksy number, starting as slow and quiet as the album gets before launching into a destructive groove and then ending on as close to Vangelis- inspired synthwave scene as Deftones have ever been, before This Link Is Dead comes powering into view. It’s probably the most out- and-out brutal Deftones have sounded since When Girls Telephone Boys on their 2003 self- titled album. It’s such a delight to hear the band rage with such uncompromising intensity again, so good in fact that it’s the highlight of the record. They don’t let up for the following Radiant City, and even though Headless is a slow and more spacious number it still contains some crushing guitar parts. The title track closes the record, once more an amalgam of lush melodies and post-metal crush, but with an added stoner riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a Red Fang album.
Ohms is an album for every type of Deftones fan. Whether you’re longing for the days of Around The Fur or if you appreciated the more measured material on Gore there will be something that you’ll love. In taking an extensive tour of their past, Deftones continue to be essential today.