By Allison Stewart
Back in the day, the Deftones were dubbed hard rock's answer to Radiohead. Sacramento-based, they were technically the confederates of don't-call-them-nu-metal acts like Korn and Tool, only smarter, more ephemeral and half in love with the Cure.
The band's thunderous new disc, "Diamond Eyes," will be leading this summer's not entirely welcome alt-metal comeback charge, but it's not the album the Deftones were supposed to make. The band had been recording a new disc, the more experimental (and now indefinitely delayed) "Eros," in 2008, when a car accident landed bassist Chi Cheng in the hospital, where he remains.
(Moreno the moper, after the jump.)
Ex-Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega ably fills in, but Cheng's absence is palpable throughout "Diamond Eyes," which takes the five-piece band's last few discs (2000's fabled "White Pony" in particular) and throws them in a blender, along with liberal helpings of sludge and gloom. Most of the latter comes courtesy of inestimable singer Chino Moreno: If alt-metal frontmen can be divided into mopers and tantrum throwers, Moreno is definitely a moper. He operates here at near-Olympic levels of doominess, investing tracks like "Risk" ("I will save your life / I will find a way") with equal amounts of heartbreak and defiance.
Otherwise, "Diamond Eyes" mixes the ambient and the brutish with almost surgical precision. "You've Seen the Butcher" recalls a more atmospheric Queens of the Stone Age; "Rocket Skates" is not only home to the chanted "Guns! Razors! Knives!" refrain (one of the disc's few unabashed hooks), it's the closest "Diamond Eyes" gets to a '99 vintage, nu-metal roundhouse kick.
Recommended tracks: "Diamond Eyes," "Rocket Skates," "Risk"