After an aborted album, Eros, and the devastating accident that left bassist Chi Cheng in a semi-comatose state, it’s a wonder that Deftones have managed to soldier on with the sixth album. Diamond Eyes finds Deftones furthering their descent into emo rock that finds little resemblance to the band that emerged with Adrenaline in 1994. While I respect the band for their bravery in developing their sound, I find myself enjoying each album less than the prior one. The sound here is more polished and dynamic than ever before. “Rocket Skates” maintains some aggression, but the rough edges that were still present on Saturday Night Wrist and the self-titled album have been stripped away for a cleaner and less heavy sound. A suitable analogy would be the evolution of COC’s sound. Listen to either the Deftones or COC catalog in chronological order and the development of their sounds away from humble beginnings makes sense. Play America’s Volume Dealer after Blind, or Diamond Eyes after Adrenaline, however, and you wonder what the heck happened. Diamond Eyes isn’t necessarily a bad record, but the mellow tones of “Sextape” and “976-EVIL” will leave some people cold. It’s a matter of perspective – if you are a fan of recent Deftones albums you’ll likely enjoy Diamond Eyes, but if you’re hoping for some new-found aggression you’ll be very disappointed. The album is a logical progression from Saturday Night Wrist, but it’s one that I’m disappointed to see the band take. It remains to be seen if Diamond Eyes will represent an anomaly in the Deftones catalog or whether it signals a full shift away from their hardcore metal roots.
Deftones will be appearing at First Avenue in Minneapolis on Monday, May 24. No support bands have been announced at this time.