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Album Review: Deftones – “Koi No Yokan”

After more than 20 years, Deftones are still going strong. In fact, they may be stronger than ever these days. Their newest, highly-anticipated album, Koi No Yokan, is clearly the work of a well-seasoned group that is truly in touch with their sound and who they are as a band. However, something about the album still leaves more to be desired.

First off, if you are a fan of Deftones, then you can rest assured, this is definitely still the band you know and love. They haven’t changed very drastically (not for the worst at least), and when you listen to this album, all of the components that drew you to the band in first place are still there. It is a well-produced, well-written, and meaningful record that has been graciously welcomed by fans and critics into the band’s discography. Still, something about the work as a whole just does not have as lasting an impact as it’s 2010 predecessor Diamond Eyes. It could be considered a close second though.

Right off the bat, Koi No Yokan—a Japanese phrase for the sense that a person feels upon first meeting someone that the two will fall in love—hits the listener hard with the deep Meshuggah-like tones of Stephen Carpenter’s 7-8 string guitar in opener “Swerve City.” This sound sets the stage for most of the album, especially in the tracks “Poltergeist,” “Tempest,” and “Rosemary,” which repeats a dark and brooding riff in the breakdown with surprisingly similar tones of The Acacia Strain. While Carpenter’s guitar is the first distinguished trait in the song, it’s Chi Cheng’s smoothly ascending and descending bass lines that carry the verse of “Swerve City.” Vocalist Chino Moreno leads the track and the album as fluidly as ever, with his signature “soaring-over-the-mountains” reverb and elongated melodic phrases.

The second track, “Romantic Dreams,” follows up this feeling with a pulsing 3/4 groove that alternates to optimistic riff-laden sections in 4/4. “Leathers” ups the intensity with dissonant sections of chugging and screaming, while still interlaced with emotively grandiose and flowing choruses. As mentioned before, “Poltergeist” utilizes the lower and grittier qualities of the guitars, which accompany an intense 7/8 polyrhythmic intro held down by drummer Abe Cunningham—with handclaps that are sure to make this song an interactive crowd favorite.

“Entombed” is a nice change of pace for the album. The feeling of this track can largely be accredited to Frank Delgado’s synth work, which provides a harmonically rich and ambient foundation for an overall uplifting song. When combined with droning delayed guitars and Moreno’s expansive vocals (“Shapes and colors are all I see/Shades of colors are all I feel“), this spacious and electronically grounded track sounds like it could easily be on a Team Sleep album (Moreno’s side project).

The variations between the first half of the album are more or less reflected throughout the second half as well, making for an overall pleasant yet somewhat unmoving experience. The song “Rosemary” contains an interesting dynamic balance between dark intensity and soaring ambience, but the closing track, “What Happened To You?” is the only song on the album that seems to stand out slightly more than the others due to upbeat rhythms by Cunningham and a sort of “bouncy” bassline by Cheng. If Deftones want an honest answer to the question posed by the title of this final track, I would have to say,”nothing.” Nothing happened to me. I enjoyed the album for what it was, but no part of it stuck with me afterward.

Despite some dynamic variations, the whole experience of Koi No Yokan felt very one dimensional. One could argue that, since their formation, Deftones have only gotten better with each album, but this one leads me to believe that they may have finally plateaued. That being said, Koi No Yokan isn’t a bad place to level out. There is nothing overtly groundbreaking about it, but it is still better than a lot of other music coming out these days. I just feel like whatever edge that Diamond Eyes may have had seems to be missing from Koi No Yokan.

If you like Deftones, check out OurStage artist Moving Atlas.

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Metal Monday: Nu Metal Lives On!

 

Metal Monday: What If Rage Against The Machine Never Had A Hit?

Think of any nu metal or rap metal band from the late 90s or early 2000s. Limp Bizkit, Hed PE, Linkin Park, Crazy Town, P.O.D., just for examples. I would almost bet that each and every artist you could think of would list Rage Against The Machine as one of their main influences. What if, however, Rage Against The Machine never actually had any success as a band? Would the influence from bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More, Living Colour and Biohazard be enough to leave the rap metal and nu metal landscapes unchanged? Hard to imagine it would—RATM really had their own style that kicked it up a notch from their musical colleagues.

RATM really only lasted for about a decade, but their impact on the music world was pretty huge. Would the world be able to laugh at Limp Bizkit and Fred Durst year after year without RATM’s influence? Probably not. Would anyone have been Crazy Town’s butterfly, baby? Let’s hope not. Somewhat unfortunately, bands that followed RATM musically didn’t so much follow them lyrically, nor did they pick up on their fashion sense. Backwards caps, tripp pants, spiked hair, etc. would probably all still have existed—Rage Against The Machine didn’t roll with that.

Lyrically, however, there is a major disconnect between Rage Against The Machine and other bands who would be a logical musical descendants. These bands, like Korn for example, had a different approach. Instead of raging about the government and how messed up the world was (the United States especially), they mostly connected with family life, being an outcast, etc. Perhaps it was the lack of major political movements or the fact that life was pretty great for the US in the mid to late ’90s (comparatively). Maybe it was just another rebellion by the youth. After all, who wants to be just like their predecessors? Seems to be the way of the world, generation after generation.

Continue reading ‘Metal Monday: What If Rage Against The Machine Never Had A Hit?’

Deftones Finish Writing New Album

Just shy of two years past the release of Diamond Eyes, Deftones have announced that they’ve finished writing their next album and will begin recording it on July 9. The band has also confirmed that they’re sticking with producer Nick Raskulinecz for the album. Receiving generally positive reviews across the board, Diamond Eyes was the band’s first record since the 2008 accident that left bassist Chi Cheng in a coma. For that album, Deftones recruited former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega to play tour dates and record, and he’s been working with them since. Though it hasn’t been explicitly confirmed, it would appear that Vega will be recording the new record with the rest of the Deftones crew, with vocalist Chino stating that Vega “has been working very well” in the band during an interview with Chilean publication La Tercera.

Photo and scoop courtesy of NME.

Confirmed: Fred Durst Is A Douchebag

He did it all for the nookie.

We all know Fred Durst is a man of (…ahem) many talents. From red Yankees fitted hats to Celtics jerseys and everything in between, the Limp Bizkit frontman has done it all. Or so we thought. It seems that the man has much more up his sleeve than we give him credit for.

It’s been announced that the renaissance man has successfully negotiated with CBS and CBS TV Studios to have his very own sitcom (temporarily referred to as “Douchebag”) in which he will explore and expose the high-profile lifestyle of a rock star trying to balance his stardom with his family life. Durst is to act as both the star and the producer of the show, and is currently working on a script to be reviewed by the network.

This isn’t Durst’s first venture into the world of motion picture. During his very profitable career with Limp Bizkit during the late 1990s early 2000s (in which they sold over 30 million albums), he tried his skills as a director for many of his band’s own music videos as well as vids for contemporaries such as KoRn and Staind. During the Limp Bizkit hiatus, he directed two relatively successful full-length films: The Education of Charlie Banks starring Jesse Eisenberg and The Longshots featuring Ice Cube. As an actor, though, his appearances have been limited to short cameos in a few films and shows. He’s never had a role in which he was able to showcase his acting skills, but it seems as if this doesn’t matter to the execs at CBS.

Do they see something in him that millions of others do not? Or is this another case of a major network attempting to bank on an artist’s celebrity status, regardless of what he brings to the table? Does Fred Durst have “celebrity status”? Let’s hope the show actually airs soon so we can see how much of a “Douchebag” he really is. Or isn’t. Or is.

Metal Monday: Nu Metal Lives On!

Rewind ten years to the mainstream metal scene at the dawn of the new millennium. No kids with flippy hair, just baggy Dickies and backwards baseball caps. Back when nu metal reigned supreme in the mainstream metal world. The year 2000 marked the release of Mudvayne‘s L.D. 50 as well as Deftones‘s White Pony—easily two of the most highly regarded nu metal albums ever released.

mudvayneToday in 2010, many bands that led the original nu metal charge are still very much alive and kicking. On May 4th, Deftones released their seventh studio album, Diamond Eyes to critical acclaim. Nu metal legends Sevendust released their eighth studio album, Cold Day Memory to a lot of good press as well. But not all nu metal bands have had such lasting power. Bands such as Limp Bizkit fell off the map completely, and are now trying to hop back on the nu metal train and ride it to more riches with their fall 2010 release Cold Cobra. Other nu metal bands with 2010 releases: Korn, Mushroomhead,  Linkin Park, Nonpoint, Stone Sour, Ill Niño, Disturbed, 36 Crazyfists and Mnemic. Sounds like the year 2000, right?

This begs the question, why now? And who is still listening to this stuff? Try to remember who listened to nu metal back in 2000? It was mostly angsty teenagers who are now in their mid twenties, perhaps clinging on to the (not so) fond memories of their rebellious youth. Regardless, which would you prefer—hilarious “over-the-hill” nu metal bands or whiny young kids with flippy hair? At least we can get a laugh along the way while we get a good album or two from the whole movement.

METAL MONDAY: WHY PEOPLE LIKE TO HATE SLIPKNOT

Metal Monday OurStage Blog

Slipknot, the band so many metal fans love to hate while others hate to love, created a schism among nearly all metal listeners upon the band’s inception in 1997. Troves of angst-ridden, mall-invading teens adopted Slipknot as their patron-saint back in 1999 (when the band’s self-titled debut came out), instantly earning the band a “mallcore” seal of disapproval by their critics. But for every teen fan that continues to support the band, there is a metal fan who continues to see Slipknot as “illegitimate,” for even the most trivial reason (check out the shoutbox for Slipknot’s Last.fm page). The most curious thing about the people who hate Slipknot is the extent to which they put forth effort to voice their hatred for the band, not to mention their efforts trolling the Internet to try and rile up the die-hard fans.

Here are a few arguments (taken from the Last.fm shoutbox) often used by the “haters” :

“Their new album Maybe Having All 9 People in Our Band Playing at the Same Damn Time Will Hide the Fact that Nobody Has Real Talent will come out in 2012. Can’t wait for it dang.”
“Slipknot ain’t metal [username], it’s Cancer. Learn your facts.”
“slipknot sucks. It is a stupid mainstream nu metal band, they call it metal but it hasn’t got anything to do with metal and many listeners are stupid emo teenagers trying to be “hard”(i know a few of them)”
“they look like retards in those stupid masks”

Here’s what fans say (also on Last.fm shoutbox):

“there will never be anything more metal than this band”
“concerts are some crazy [beep] for this band”
“Vol. 3 is a lot more creative than most people would like to admit. Even some of the hard-to-please (like AMG) critics admit it’s a masterpiece.”
“No doubting that there a great band, talk about being unique.”

Slipknot, with the newer masks

Slipknot, with the newer masks

On the Internet it is difficult to find many detailed points about the reason why people dislike Slipknot’s music or why they feel is it is unworthy of listeners. Looking at the album ratings by people at MetalStorm.ee, a global online metal community, each of Slipknot’s albums receive an aggregate rating of at least 7/10. Reputable sources such as allmusic have nothing but good things to say about Slipknot, giving each effort at least a 3/5 rating. On Sputnikmusic, every Slipknot album has averaged at least a 3/5 rating as well. Being that Slipknot are the fan-appointed leaders of nu-metal/mallcore/etc., it’s no stretch of the imagination to think that the hatred towards the band is born out of stigma or a general hatred toward the entire style of music, the same view that coined the term “mallcore”. Bands such as Korn, Godsmack and others share similar attitudes toward their music by being branded with the “nu metal” tag, the black-sheep of heavy music.

Slipknot, with the old masks

Slipknot, with the old masks

The reality is that both the fans and haters are right most of the time. Few arguments between the two touch on the same areas of Slipknot’s music. Most of Slipknot’s music is technically simple, and rarely involves guitar solos —things that many metalheads deem necessary to be part of the metal community. Many of the lyrics in Slipknot songs are simple as well, and fed off the angst and hatred that many adolescents feel (making it instantly connectable). As David Fricke of Rolling Stone Magazine says, “Iowa is not just the first great record of the nu-metal era—it’s better than that. In fact, Slipknot’s second album may be the only platter of its day and subgenre that, in five or ten years, we call ‘classic,’ with the same awed breath we reserve for Black Sabbath‘s early monsters, Metallica‘s Master of Puppets and Rage Against the Machine.” Slipknot were, are, and always will be the kings of Nu Metal. If you don’t like Nu Metal, chances are you won’t like Slipknot. People who dislike the entire Nu Metal genre and claim “Slipknot sucks” are, in truth, saying more about their ignorance then the actual legitimacy of the band.

Slipknot at the GRAMMYs

Slipknot at the GRAMMYs

Whether it is the masks, the jumpsuits, the fans or the subject matter, Slipknot have remained true to their unique sound and that is something that should be respected. Hate them or love them, there is a reason that Slipknot became famous and adored by many. In the same way that people who grow up in small country towns can’t always relate to hip hop songs about ghetto life, the music of Slipknot surely misses the mark for much of the older metal community. And similar to the way that famous metal acts were protest against by the PMRC in the great censorship war of the 80s, Slipknot is being targeted by those who feel that Slipknot is ruining something beloved to them— metal. Those who feel the need to diss Slipknot really need to understand that Slipknot won’t destroy all that is good and great about metal; Slipknot promotes the greater good of metal bolstering the numbers of those who enjoy heavy music. Now who can hate on that?

 


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