Warner Brothers/Reprise Records
By Robin X Steeley (RS11)
From the first atmospheric notes, Gore is pure Deftones brilliance. It’s a slow burning engine, and the more you
listen the more it grows on you. There’s no filler here, and lyrically it borrows from all things frontman Chino
Moreno is well known for. Musically it shows the growth and evolution of the band. It’s apparent they didn’t
make this for the fans; they made this album not giving a shit about the expectations of others. They are at a
place in their career where they could take the time to put out an album that’s relevant, but this was about
internal conflict, a duality felt throughout this effort. Chino brings his vocal influences from all projects, yet his
range is more focused. The musical backdrop and instrumentation is a more powerful and well-tuned machine.
There are some epic and haunting moments here. It builds into a rich tapestry of interwoven musical feeling,
emotion laden lyrics and soul dripping guitars. It has an epic feel to it and I highly recommend mixing it with a
view of crashing ocean waves.
I think my only critique was they somewhat buried Abe Cunningham; his percussion is the backbone of the
music and while technically perfect, could have been highlighted more in the studio mix. Production wise it has
a beautiful tone, but overall the dynamics of the music were perhaps handled slightly better by former
producer Terry Date, who knew the band so well he was nearly considered a member. Still, they did an
excellent job; it’s well-polished, but herein lies the problem. It’s slightly over refined and while incredibly
beautiful and enchanting, it lacks the raw, gritty, dirty Sacto sound we’re all addicted too. I can hear the gear
and tone changes in the instruments, which might be throwing off the signature Deftones sound, but each song
is deeply personal to the band, and left up for interpretation to all else.
For me it’s internally engaging, filled with unexpected hooks, twists and turns. While it doesn’t pack the brutal
diverse punch 2012’s Koi No Yokan did, Gore is the soul baring result of the Deftones struggle. Standout tracks
are “Phantom Bride” with otherworldly guitar work by Jerry Cantrell, and emotionally driven “L (Mirl)” which
has incredible personal connection for me. The band approached the studio with nothing written, no plan or
schedule, not relying on old patterns, spending time on the overall ambience of the music. Master audio
manipulator Frank Delgado adds his layering to “Acid Hologram” and rock rhythms are peppered throughout
“Geometric Headdress,” where drummer Abe Cunningham is a beast. There’s a tangible tension between
Stephen Carpenter’s love for the heavy and Moreno’s love for the ethereal that drives this album, but rather
than separating them, the musical battle and personal desires adds texture.
Long waited for this is the result of years of expectations, grief, and LIFE within this innovative band. Overall
Gore punched me in the chest and curled my toes; it’s a roller coaster ride of emotions through melody. It’s
gorgeously delivered, full of cleverly crafted hooks and the brutal yet still beautiful culmination of the bands
anger and passion towards each other and the world. Www.Deftones.Com