Review: Deftones – Ohms

by Schuler // Death Drive 90.5

Twenty-four-ish years into my tenure as a fan, it feels asinine to make any kind of judgment call on a new Deftones record without taking a few weeks to live in it. And I say this in the wake of being twenty-one-ish years into my tenure as a Deftones fan when they lastingly disappointed me for the first time. Gore was a scatter-shot and boring affair, largely devoid of the reinvigorated chemistry of Koi No Yokan and the punch of Diamond Eyes. Consequently, in the three years since Gore’s release, I haven’t spent a lot of time listening to my old friends from Sacto. So when singles from the new album, Ohms, started trickling out recently, I didn’t pay much attention. When I saw Ohms sitting on the shelf at the record store while I was picking up something else, I couldn’t pass it up. And I’m paying attention now.

“Genesis” is a lumbering, anticlimactic opener, but “Ceremony,” “Urantia,” and “Error” are three of the most immediately satisfying Deftones songs in a decade. Stephen Carpenter is an absolute master of pairing playful Weezer riffs with their twisted funhouse mirror reflections, and we can follow the stream of that tension through all three of these tracks, each one adopting and redirecting it in its own way. Though this run of three stands out most for me, the flow definitely continues throughout the remainder of Ohms. This is the most unified Deftones album since White Pony. And like White Pony, this album’s meatiest track is its last one.

“Ohms” is the kind of song you come into a Deftones album hoping for: it’s them, but it’s not them. It’s Deftones fabric stretched so tight across the faces of their influences that you can see through it. I caught Deftones with Baroness in 2010, and they gave it a full decade before they let Blue Record’s burly, jangly rock acrobatics seep into their composition process, but it’s here. There’s also elements of Torche’s joyous muscle pop. And of course hints of Failure, The Cure, and Meshuggah. But it’s all melded and channeled in a way that few bands other than these guys can pull off. 

Ohms is an orgy of style and movement. It’s more muscular and unified than its predecessor, and its balance of nostalgic callbacks and fresh injections is about as good as you could ask for. That’s not to say we’re settling, just that there aren’t really any peaks left for these guys to climb. Come for the jams, stay to watch these old friends marry the passion they had as teenagers with the seasoned ease of musicians who’ve been playing together for a lifetime. I’ll get back to you in a few weeks when my opinion changes.

Ohms is now available wherever you get your music. Catch Schuler on Death Drive 90.5 every Monday night from 8-10PM, and be sure to follow his show on Instagram and Twitter.