At this point in the history of Rock Music, it’s easy to write off a band that’s been around for 20 years simply by virtue of their continued existence. Our collective attention span being what it is (read: limited, if we’re being kind to ourselves), the fact that Deftones both exist and continue to get better isn’t just an anomaly, it’s basically unheard of.
My history with Deftones goes back to the formative years of my music listening/appreciation experience, all the way to those retrospectively bewildering days of junior high school. Adrenaline was exactly what the title indicated - a massive dose of excitement centered around a very singular sound. With Around The Fur (an album I remember having a friend who could drive pick up for me on release - he opened up the CD and listened to it on the ride home), they took a giant leap forward and created an album that still holds up today. Then came the transformative and admittedly weird White Pony (and that’s saying something, considering how much weirder releases like Saturday Night Wrist would get…). Everything that’s come after has been equally surprising and, in some cases, just as divisive (their self-titled album, anyone?). It was a watershed moment for Deftones, and one that cemented their place in the upper echelon of Important Heavy Music. As a band that has endured the changing tide of the music industry, constantly shifting “flavor of the month” fads, and personal tragedy, it’s not just a miracle that this band is still as relevant as they are, but that they still exist at all.
Their latest, Koi No Yokan, is a Masters Class in both alluring new listeners while still satisfying and challenging diehard fans. Not an easy line to tow, but one that they’ve somehow managed to successfully navigate over the course of their career. Continuing, and possibly finishing an arch they started on the incredible Diamond Eyes, and combining all of the elements that they’ve worked so endlessly to fine tune, it’s at once devastatingly heavy and eerily atmospheric, drenched in the quasi-surreal lyricism they’re known for, while feeling incredibly personal. To say that they continue to top their previous efforts is a bit of an understatement, but one that still holds true regardless. It’s also cause for genuine celebration when they have something new on the way (fingers crossed for something this fall).
In the meantime, Deftones will be in Cincinnati for the first time in what feels like too long, co-headlining Riverbend Music Center this Saturday, July 25th, with Incubus (yes, that Incubus) and supported by The Eeries and Death From Above 1979. It may seem an incongruous bit of almost-but-not-quite counter-programming, but I’m willing to bet that there’s a more significant amount of fan crossover than one might assume at first glance. I, for one, am intrigued to see how they all play together, but more than anything, am excited to see just how well Deftones hold up in a live setting. If their recorded output is any indication, I’ve no reason to doubt they’ll be just fine.