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The Deftones’ unoriginal lyrics damage album

Marty Schroeder | Monday, November 13, 2006

Three years after their last album, the Deftones have released “Saturday Night Wrist” – a move that is right for the band. With guitars wrapping themselves around the yearning vocals, this album proves the pop-metal scene is still alive and well many years after some thought Limp Bizkit had put its nail in the coffin. More diverse than they have been in the past, the Deftones are still relevant to the modern rock scene.

“Saturday Night Wrist” opens with the melodic and ethereal (as ethereal as rock can be) “Hole in the Earth.” Frontman Chino Moreno’s vocals soar over Stephen Carpenter’s guitar while Chi Cheng’s bass and Abe Cunningham’s drums provide rhythmic soul to the song.

While sonically the song is very sound and even somewhat original, the lyrics are contrived and impersonal. It speaks to some nameless evil and how the singer will find a hole in the earth and escape. One could say it’s about the times we live in, however, the lyrics speak to nothing and offer no chance of identifying with the singer either through poetry or personalization. It seems the Deftones cannot escape the plague of pop and its symptoms, including poor lyrics mixed with sometimes catchy and interesting music.

Formed in Sacramento, Calif., the Deftones originally consisted of Moreno, Cunningham and Carpenter. After going through a few bassists, the band finally settled on Cheng as a permanent member. The rotation was complete when Frank Delgado was added on the turntable for the sophomore effort “Around the Fur.”

This is the band that was completed in the late ’90s and this is the band that is still around today – quite an accomplishment for an alt-metal band that hit it big years ago. When Limp Bizkit has gone the way of the dodo and Korn is nowhere to be found, the Deftones are still finding a place in popular music.

However, even though the Deftones adapted to the times, they have not forgotten where they are from. The second track, “Rapture,” is an aptly named thrashing of sonic distortion and metal screaming. “Hole in the Earth” may be more radio-friendly, however, “Rapture” was made for those die-hard fans that have been with the Deftones since the beginning.

“Cherry Waves” is the song that lets Delgado flex his electronica muscles. While a bit over-emotional and trite, it manages to be interesting. The different places Delgado takes his turntable do credit to his talent and display the need the band has for him. Moreno also takes his voice from the lowest to the highest registers it can go. He croons, loves and impassionedly screams. The only problem is what he is singing about. It’s nothing of substance.

The album consists of great alt-metal music and not so great pop, “I’m angry at my father” lyrics. The musicianship of this band, if one likes popular metal, is top-notch. It just needs to vary the lyrics up a bit and venture in new directions. After “Around the Fur” and “White Pony,” both critically acclaimed heavy rock albums, the Deftones needed to show they could still play with the best of them even after the band’s supposed expiration date had passed. This album may not be what the band wanted – or what fans wanted as far as lyrics go. It’s just more of the same old stuff. However, tune out the lyrics, listen to the guitars and enjoy one of the better alt-metal albums to be released in recent years.