Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Best Albums of 2012, Edition Four: Deftones

Koi No Yokan — Deftones

The dudes in Deftones — never The Deftones — haven’t got Chi Cheng back from his harrowing four years of hospitalization and recovery, but they’ve released two records in that time with temporary replacement bassist Sergio Vega. Despite his contributions only to Yokan and 2010’s Diamond Eyes, he’s managed to help craft a record that combines the best parts of the previous studio record with the classic White Pony from 2000.

Yokan begins with the stomping two-and-a-half-minute “Swerve City” which, judging by the videos on YouTube, is quite the crowd pleaser. A Deftones record hasn’t hit this hard from the start since, yes, “Back to School” on Pony, but “Swerve City” is more immediate and visceral. It gives way to “Romantic Dreams”, “Leathers”, and “Poltergeist” — three of the most textured, sweeping songs in the Deftones songbook. They’re loud in all the right ways, but there’s a sensitivity to the distortion and Chino Moreno’s screams.

Track seven, “Tempest”, is the most recent single from the album. It’s as radio-friendly as the record ever gets, but don’t think that it’s weak sauce. The pre-chorus uses a tasteful amount of delay to create a distant “run run run run, ahead ahead ahead ahead” effect. It’s beautiful, preceding “turning in circles, been caught in a stasis,” as Moreno pleads in a Thrice-esque chorus.

In amongst all of the chaos on the record — the loud guitars, the screamed vocals, the hard-hitting drums, and the wicked bass work — there’s a sense of every song being absolutely exquisite, and completely essential.