Review of Ohms by Deftones - Dakota Kahler
“Deep in the bottomless depths of the ocean, Empty bodies we sink.”
No other lyrics can describe 2020 better than those of “Pompeji”, a personal favorite track on Deftones’ new album Ohms.
Deftones have always been a dark band. Their material deals with loneliness, despair, loss, and all things tragic. Finding a perfect balance between heavy and dreamy, Deftones have been able to present their deep material in a way that is accessible to all. Listen to their work with an open mind; they are notorious for being vague in their meanings and usually will not confirm what a song is or is not about. The meaning is up to you, and it will vary person by person and circumstance by circumstance. Their latest record, Ohms, is certainly no different.
Ohms is the ninth album by the band, and the first since 2016’s Gore. In that time, there has been a substantial amount of growth and rediscovery. This album sounds like the heavy Deftones from the early 2000s. Though not as heavy as their seminal album White Pony, guitarist Stephen Carpenter stepped up his contributions to the record and brought his heavy metal influence. Producer Terry Date also made his re-appearance, which certainly brought back the classic Deftones sound. Date was responsible for many of their greatest records, including Around the Fur (1997), White Pony (2000), and Deftones (2003). Working with Date was a huge win for the new record and makes it sound like classic Deftones.
Thematically, Ohms is difficult to pin down. As I mentioned previously, Deftones are notoriously vague about meanings and reasonings. It is up to your imagination and interpretation. To me, I believe it to be a record of loss, loneliness, and longing. That could just be the influence 2020 has had on all of us, but I think this record is the perfect 2020 soundtrack. It’s heavy and ferocious, yet it has its quieter and dreamier moments as well. The aforementioned “Pompeji” is the closest this album has to a ballad, which is a stark contrast to ballad-heavy Koi No Yokan (2012).
Chino Moreno, lead singer and lyricist, absolutely kills on this record. Age seems to be irrelevant to Chino as his performance on this record is one of his best. This is Stephen Carpenter’s first time using a 9-string guitar on an album, which allows for the heavier sound. Sergio Vega (bass) and Abe Cunningham (drums) keep the rhythm section tight and are noticeably in touch with one another. The only member who I don’t hear a lot from is Frank Delgado who mans the keyboard and turntable (for sampling). It isn’t a surprise his contributions aren’t as noticeable. it is hard to make keyboards and samples stand out on this record, since it is cacophonous and loud (In the best way).
This album was made for high-energy shows. I feel bad for the band as they cannot tour the album right away, and I am sad I cannot experience this album live. It engulfs me with the desire and need to mosh. I would do anything to hear “Ohms”, “Genesis”, “Radiant City”, and “Ceremony” live right now. Sigh.