Deftones, even at their best, have been a band of dichotomies. That is what makes them a special band in the history of heavy music: opposing forces pulling and pushing them apart and back again. They may have been coming apart at the seams in the run-up to making Diamond Eyes (Reprise), and you couldn’t blame them. If you follow the band closely, you know the history. The band was nearly done tracking their highly anticipated album Eros in the fall of 2008, when founding bassist Chi Cheng was in a car wreck, on his way home from a funeral. Chi was left in a vegetative state, and the band was in shock. As Chi fought for his life (he passed in 2013, RIP), the band was left wondering what to do. They wanted to make music, but the experience with their best friend caused them to shelve Eros, never to be heard (almost never). When they came back together, the results were unexpected and wild. Continue reading
Veteran musician / producer Bryan Richie, known best bassist for American rock band The Sword, has announced a new solo project under the pseudonym Galactic Protector. Full of synths and dreamy Pop and post-Rock song stylings, the project is a respite from the crusty stoner rock jams Bryan was known for in his previous work. Galactic Protector’s debut LP, Evening, will see a June 28 release via UK boutique label Burning Witches Records (Daniel Davies, Deadly Avenger). Watch the clip for “Liseran Sand” now! Continue reading
On Heavy Yoke (Solid State/Indie Recordings) Azusa is a bit all over all the place. Solid State’s own website has them described as “Can you imagine Kate Bush fronting Slayer; Death collaborating with Annette Peacock?” And they’re not technically wrong. Heavy Yoke is ripe with flashes of Thrash, Death Metal, Punk, Pop and Prog. It seems contradictory or musically adverse, but these are professionals at work. Continue reading
Formed 2010 in Reykjavik, Kontinuum set out to release hypnotic and spiritual musical noise, and over the course of the last two albums, they’ve largely succeeded. However with third album No Need to Reason (Season of Mist) they’ve set out to tone down the noise part and have come back with a much more refined sound. From the first album Earth Blood Magic (Candlelight) and an upbeat and eclectic mix of post-rock and dreamwave influences to the more epic sounding, Sólstafir worship of Kyrr (Candlelight) they’ve clearly been a band not afraid to experiment with their sound. Continue reading
One of the most anticipated albums of 2016 is here with Deftones’ long awaited eighth album, Gore (Reprise). While much has been made in the press by the band themselves of the growing division of styles and tastes between core members Chino Moreno and Stephen Carpenter, the reality is the band has always thrived on challenging themselves musically. Continuing the arc the band started with 2010’s Diamond Eyes and followed to a logical next step with 2012’s Koi No Yokan (both Reprise), musically they continue to flow back in more of the aggro-heaviness that made them shine early in their career. Meanwhile crafting sweet, dreamy shoe-gaze inspired jams takes equal footing without giving any ground. The blend of the two styles is magical most of the time. If there is any disharmony in the ranks, it doesn’t show in these beautifully crafted tracks. In fact, this is music that screams out “let’s get making with the love! Oooh yeah!”
Lead off track ‘Prayers/Triangles’ could be straight off of the White Pony album. The track has a persistent beat and is not overly heavy, but works well. A hypnotic, multi-layered vocal track from Moreno hits home, as few vocalists in modern music can make you feel what he wants you to in an instant. Considering his penchant for obtuse and poetic lyrics, this is quite a feat.
Much heavier and slower, ‘Acid Hologram’ creeps in with massive riffs and subtle melodies. Turntablist/programmer Frank Delgado adds a lot of sonic heft here as well. When the song pivots toward the end and steps up the sonic urgency, it is one of the best moments on Gore.
‘Doomed User’ is another top track out of the gate. Chopping riffs and that patented super-tight Abe Cunningham beat bring it home. I can’t wait to hear this one performed live. Similarly ‘Geometric Headress’ kicks in with a tribal beat, but has a very different feel by the end, almost a proggy, Tool-flavored affair track Chino’s lovely crooning coming in between periods of yelps of dismay.
‘Hearts/Wires’ finds them exploring their Joy Division jones before the epic chorus kicks in. In terms of dynamic interplay and lyrics, this is easily the best track on Gore.
One standout thing about the last few Deftones releases are the contributions of bassist Sergio Vega. Long past is the time when he was standing in for the late Chi Cheng, and is now a full-fledged, weight-bearing member. Cheng himself was a dynamic writing force on early Deftones albums. Vega has more than picked up that mantle now. Beyond putting his unique stamp on the songs, Vega pushes and pulls the tracks as well now too.
Tracks like ‘Pittura Infamante’ and ‘Xenon’ will call to mind the Around the Fur days of the band, which was the moment they killed off the nu-metal of their youth and became something much more deep and interesting as a band.
If this band made power-ballads in the traditional sense, ‘L(Mirl)’ would be the closest thing to one. Not at all typical, but an easy to digest track that grooves along. Switching it up, the title track comes next and it is like a DNA strand of the bands history. A little metal, a little gaze, and a lot of brilliant.
‘Phantom Bride’ is another standout deep cut. It’s as gorgeous as it is harrowing on the senses. It’s the most “Chino sounding” track here, but isn’t so way out that it sounds out of place. It also has a stellar guest performance from Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains adding some slick lead guitar and his trademark harmonized licks. I kind of wished the ending riff of the track would have gone on for a while longer, but it’s pretty satisfying still. ‘Rubicon’ is the album closer, but it has the energy of an opening track. A soaring, emotive song full of chaos and sadness all at once.
The hallmark of all the great bands is they continue to grow gradually across many albums and ages, without over-shooting when it comes to experimentation. This band remains unique in that they always sound like themselves, even when incorporating new influences and themes. Deftones remain the same, but spreading outward like a glacier. Solitary, beautiful, cold, and unstoppable.
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Team Sleep‘s next EP of new material is currently being mixed. The band checked in with the following update online:
“Listening to mixes of songs from our first e.p. of new studio tracks. Our dudes at Applehead are killing it. Sounds great! Lots of new music in progress.”
Team Sleep’s Rick Verret in a recent interview with Ghost Cult for an upcoming feature on the band remarked recently:
“We are working on a lot of new stuff. There will be new (original) music sooner than later. Hopefully we will tour again too, next year.”
Following the recent release of Team Sleep’s live Woodstock Sessions: Vol. 4 EP, the next release of music from the band will be their first significant new music since their debut album, a decade ago.
Team Sleep is:
There is a funny thing about cult bands; they rarely ever follow the script you want them to. Team Sleep, notable for a strong group of players led by Chino Moreno (Deftones, Crosses) busted out 10 years ago with a debut album that was long on quality shoegaze, electronica and dreamy synth-pop. Like a weird post-pop rock, Team Sleep made pretty music that just stuck with you. Pulled apart again by other commitments after a brief tour and only coming together in bits and pieces over the year, the band rumbled back to life earlier this year. With a successful Pledge Music campaign to reignite the fans and the promise of new music in the future, the result was the quirky and special live performance of Woodstock Sessions, Vol. 4.
It seems odd that a band that has been more or less dormant for a decade would take the trouble to reunite, only to do a small performance in front of an intimate audience. What has been born out of these Woodstock Sessions recordings at Applehead Studios (Coheed & Cambria, Bad Brains) in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, seems to be special. Perhaps it is the setting, but I tend to think the artists themselves bring something to the table too. For Team Sleep, that something is a cinematic vision and that a song is never truly finished after recording, rather just beginning. The band deconstructed many of the their original tracks and explored new ways to present them. ‘OP’, ‘Live From The Stage’, ‘Death By Plane’, ‘Blvd. Nights’, and ‘Princeton Review’, all taking on some new hues and shapes that surprise and refresh your memory of those first demos.
Another great convention breaker is some of the players have swapped positions. Chino, DJ Crook, Todd Wilkinson hold their own, while Chuck Doom has moved over to bass, allowing Rick Verrett to man the keys and synths full-time. Joining on drums is Gil Sharone (Stolen Babies, Marilyn Manson Dillinger Escape Plan). Moreno, like his contemporaries Mike Patton and Maynard James Keenan, won’t be painted into a corner artistically. The idea that Team Sleep in this incarnation will make a new album is exciting news.