Triumph over adversity. It's a phrase so easily associated to bands within this genre. When Cliff Burton died, Metallica came back with what is arguably their best album in Master Of Puppets. When Bon Scott bit the dust, AC/DC came back with a new singer in tow and released the best selling album of all time behind Michael Jackson's Thriller with Back In Black. And just last year, 7 years removed from the tragic passing of Layne Stayley (and despite a great deal of doubt amongst hardcore Layne fans), Alice In Chains returned in spectacular fashion with one of the best offerings of 2009 in Black Gives Way To Blue.
When Deftones bassist Chi Cheng fell into a coma following a car accident in 2008, Deftones' future looked bleak. Following lacklustre live performances and 2006's muddled affair that was Saturday Night Wrist, the band were forced to shelve writing sessions for what would be their sixth album, Eros. Most bands would've broken under the tremendous strain losing a brother inevitably brings. Deftones have instead decided to follow suit with the aforementioned legends, by releasing the best album of their career: brace yourself for the rollercoaster that is Diamond Eyes.
Within seconds you're crushed under the pummeling weight of the main riff to Diamond Eyes' title track, a riff so beautifully juxtaposed against Chino Moreno's haunting melodies - and just wait until you hear that chorus: it's the sound of planets aligning.
Following the heaviest riff in Deftones' back catalogue that closes the title track, you're barely given a second to breath before you're sent hurtling back into that now so familiar signature Deftones sound on 'Royal'; the groove built on darkness, the melodies so simple but so alien - it's the sound of a band finding it's place in the world again, a place that not too long ago seemed all but lost. The heavy-as-fuck nature of track number 3 'CMND/CTRL' is if nothing else an indication that we could very well be dealing with an album to rival the efforts this band have been measured against for years (Around The Fur and White Pony) - this is going to be a journey of experimentation, epic soundscapes and sheer sonic bombast.
Mid-album highlights 'Beauty School' and 'Prince' echo past glories while still retaining the essential tinge of originality that Deftones have always had, and lead single 'Rocket Skates' sends us into more traditonally metal territory, but saves itself from genericism thanks to Chino's unique and, in all honesty, downright wierd vocal stylings. 'Sextape' offers a light break from the commotion, Moreno pouring his soul out for all to see, even through his ever non-specific lyrics, before the album grinds to a halt with a downtrodden and plodding hat-trick with 'Risk', '976-EVIL' and 'This Place Is Death', the second to last track being a particular highlight thanks to a progressive and overwhelmingly powerful chorus.
What Deftones have managed here is what few bands are seemingly able to achieve. They have taken everything you love about Deftones' music and shoehorned it into an album. You'd be forgiven to expect the end result to be a cluttered, scatterbrained and mixed bag of an effort, much like this album's predecessor Saturday Night Wrist. Drop all preconceptions now: what Deftones have delivered is a cohesive and ambitious offering that is easily one of the best, if not the best, of their career. It DEMANDS repeated listenings, and you'll find yourself struggling to listen to any one seperate track from the album without hearing everything else that surrounds it - it simply does not make sense any other way. Put simply, this is essential listening. Inspiring, exciting, and fresh, and exactly what Deftones and the world needs in 2010. If a better album is released all year, I'll chop my cock off.