Deftones evolves into heavy remnant of heyday with‘Koi’

Artist: Deftones

Album: “Koi No Yokan”

Label: Reprise Records

Since word leaked about “Koi No Yokan,” the Deftones’ first release since the excellent 2010 record “Diamond Eyes,” the word is it rates up there with the band’s pinnacle, 2000’s “White Pony”; the band itself has wisened up and has begun to reference the similarities between “White Pony” and their new album in interviews.

This record is no “White Pony.” I doubt that any of the band’s albums will ever match the sprawling genius of either.

“Koi No Yokan,” Japanese for “premonition of love,” mirrors the band’s more recent music while tipping their cap to the roots that gave the Sacramento quintet life. It’s a heavy album, but not overbearingly so, with the trademarked soaring vocals and moody melodies that make Deftones one of the most underappreciated bands of the past 15 years.

The album opens with the punishingly brutal “Swerve City,” initially a showcase for drummer Abe Cunningham and guitarist Stephen Carpenter before abruptly switching into vocalist Chino Morena’s soothing and docile tones. The track’s verses, choruses and haunting lyrics kick start this album.

“Leathers,” the album’s first single, is a dreamy little piece that departs from an REM sleep to an absolute nightmare in terms of sonic quality. The song’s verses ratchet up the tension until they culminate and explode into a chorus of beautifully booming melodies.

Perhaps the best track is its second single, “Tempest,” a song they have been perfecting at live shows for the past couple of years. Clocking at more than six minutes, it’s a complimentary exercise with all five members with a haunting ambiance that is unrivaled in contemporary hard rock. “Tempest” is the product of a band that refuses to settle into a stagnancy and is eager to continue to evolve.

“Koi No Yokan” does not rival “White Pony,” but that shouldn’t be read as a demerit..It’s a solid album by one of pop music’s most overlooked bands performing at an enviable peak.