Deftones: Saturday Night Wrist

Deftones: Saturday Night Wrist

B+
Album: Saturday Night Wrist
Label: Maverick

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Record labels generally sticker their CD covers to call out key singles or potential hits, and Maverick Records has done just that with Deftones' fourth album. But the significance of Saturday Night Wrist's decal only comes clear to those who've heard the album's 12 tracks in sequence: "Hole In The Earth" and "Cherry Waves" don't just sound like singles, they're also among the only tracks that function as Deftones songs.

Though the band rose to fame during the nü-metal phenomenon (and, unfortunately, became lumped in with it), Deftones never quite fit the bill: They hired a DJ (Frank Delgado), but he only added dark atmospheres and weird sonic washes. They laid down chunky guitar riffs and huge drum grooves, but singer Chino Moreno offset these with a sexually ambiguous, almost ethereal balance of belting, whispering, and soul-baring. When they released a 2005 compilation (B-Sides & Rarities) featuring powerful, reverent covers of The Cure and Cocteau Twins, Deftones' deeper inspiration shone through—and it was far removed from metal, nü or otherwise.

While Saturday Night Wrist has its heavy moments—the snarling, angular highs of "Rapture" and "Rats! Rats! Rats!" could peel paint from walls—the album is mostly a heady, atmospheric, willfully too-difficult-for-radio wash of sound that, save for a handful of tracks, stretches out and explores Deftones' creative limits more than ever before. To keep the Cure analogy going, this is the Deftones' Disintegration: the album that jettisons their radio-friendly past and their more vibrant experimental present to leap blindly into a dark, uncertain future. Here's hoping fans are willing to join in the plunge.

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