In the alternative rock and metal ecosystem, Deftones have distinguished themselves as one of the most unique and identifiable bands of the last 25 years. Over the course of their career, they’ve continuously evolved and toyed with nu metal, post-hardcore and shoegaze, now returning with their ninth album, a record dubbed equal parts alt-metal and dreampop. Ohms was intelligently hyped in the days leading up to its release with their philanthropic “Adopt A Dot” campaign and Spotify Canvas animations to engage their fanbase in a short amount of time, and with the sound of preceding singles off the album and the fact that longtime producer Terry Date is back behind the board with them for this one, just the idea, the picture of Ohms by itself is promising.
“Genesis” opens with a deceptive vortex of humming synth and deep, echoing guitar, eventually breaking into an up-to-date mesh of Deftones and refurbished bits of Mudvayne here and there. “Ceremony” is more purely ‘Tones, while missing some of the shrieking distortion of prior works it still retains much of the energetic fervour that has marked their career. “Urantia” really gets into the ethereal elements of Ohms even amidst the heaviest riffing thus far, setting the stage for the down-tuned crush of “Error”. “The Spell Of Mathematics” builds on “Error”’s hypnotic oscillations and splatters it against the grabbing combustion of “Genesis”, exemplifying Ohms’ essence as a record you can simply recline and get lost in regardless of how relentlessly it hammers you at the same time.
“Pompeji”, with its bottomless clean verses complete with serene, peaceful sounds of nature and its offsetting, pounding chorus takes the stop/start foundation of Ohms to even greater levels of sonic catharsis. “This Link Is Dead” is the most reminiscent of old-school Deftones; there is no reprieve, no mercy, only cleansing without sugarcoating or pretence. “Radiant City” isn’t too far behind, a permeable layer of atmosphere lying underneath its encompassing crunch. “Headless” is especially heavy and spacey, that quintessential track you turn all the way up and close your eyes to; lastly is the title track, which, fitting for an end track is comparatively lighter feel-wise than the others. No longer are your ears bombarded and your attention demanded, “Ohms” feels more like a peaceful sendoff, a soaring conclusion rather than a final, searing expression of existential dread.
Fifteen years and nine LPs after their debut, Ohms is a fine demonstration of Deftones’ never-ending artistic progression. While it may not have nearly the same amount of heaviness, angst and force as its predecessors, it still packs a lot of punch while engaging in ethereal free fall in all the right places. Its quality speaks to the strength, focus and clarity of vision that Deftones has after this long to preserve themselves this well while continuously evolving, and sets a strong preface for album number 10 to be just as great, if not better.