Deftones frontman Chino Moreno has an unshakable reputation that can only be garnered from such a versatile, timeless voice. He is known for two conflicting styles in Deftones, which lends the band the character that originally helped them rise above the early noughties nu-metal fodder. One is a bone-shaking scream and the other is an airy, sensual croon. In his latest venture †††, the former may aswell be erased from memory, as (joined by Shaun Lopez and Chuck Doom), the latter is layered over brooding synths, minimal guitars and rhythms which cascade towards the gloomy underbelly of alt-rock.
The first thing that stands out about ††† is the focus on synthetic, cut-up elements, as opposed to the chunky guitars and density of Chino’s other projects. ††† is closer in sound to Team Sleep than anything else in Moreno’s past, drawing more comparisons to Trent Reznor‘s subtle sections. In fact, if Nine Inch Nails had a musical manicure – filing down the coarse edges and adding a new coat of polish – they’d probably sound like this. The influences aren’t directly referenced though, as ††† weave them into something familiar, that’s also somehow mysterious. This is a product of Far guitarist Shaun Lopez’s inclusion, which integrates a variety of sounds – whether they’re wistful guitar chords or unsettling synth pads – and forges a sturdy backbone for the rest of the band.
But there is one negative aspect of this album. It’s composed of the bands two previous EP releases (along with five new songs). The intention in doing this – to create something all-encompassing – is understandable, but it’s also proof that it wasn’t written with the full picture in mind. EP tracks such as ‘†hholyghs†’ from 2011’s first release, along with ‘†elepa†hy’ from 2012’s second, are separated from their origins, as new songs like ‘Bitches Brew’ are shoved in as roadblocks, disrupting a flow that’s already been established for three years now.
Although this is no fault of the music itself, it is a fault of the album. ††† isn’t really an album at all, it’s a compilation, and despite musical strengths, it’ll leave anyone who’s heard the first two EP’s begging for something cohesive, new and worthy of status as the bands first fully accomplished work.