Just when people waxed nostalgic about the 20th anniversary of the Deftones’ landmark White Pony album, the band returned with their strongest effort since that career-defining record. I honestly didn’t see it coming, and I always enjoy new Deftones music. 2016’s Gore was a merely nice record after an admirable run of really strong albums, so that record made my interest in the Deftones wane just enough for the follow-up to completely floor me.
Granted, the Deftones were already experiencing a strong creative upswing over the past decade, but Ohms displays a level of focus that separates it from such otherwise gorgeous records as Saturday Night Wrist and Koi No Yokan. The Deftones’ entire aesthetic has always centred on the push and pull between crushing heaviness and tender beauty, and that balance is sublime on such tracks as “Ceremony”, “Error”, and the title track. As great as the band is at crafting tracks that seem to glide as much as they pummel, it’s refreshing to hear a little more urgency from time to time, as tracks like “Error” and “Urania” revisit the band’s late-‘90s sound, boasting massive riffs that rival Tool. All the while, singer Chino Moreno is in impressive form; often guilty of singing in a directionless manner, he reins his vocals in enough to pull off his catchiest melodies in ages. The Deftones have become so reliable that we’ve all come to expect consistently good music from them, but Ohms makes the leap from “good” to “great” in a way that caught a lot of us off guard. White Pony will always be the band’s definitive album, but Ohms is, without a doubt, their next best work.