There are moments on Deftones’ first new disc since 2006—and first without bassist Chi Cheng, who’s been in a minimally conscious state since a 2008 car accident—that sound a bit like a band on auto-pilot. Luckily, though, the title track and “Royal” stomp such limp moments with pleasingly crude riffs that claw and scrape through the verses, then release Chino Moreno’s voice into glimmering, menacing choruses. Moreno and guitarist Stephen Carpenter shove back and forth on “CMND/CTRL” as if trying to slam each other off-beat, charging up the tension and nuance that so many of Deftones’ hard-rock contemporaries lack.
“You’ve Seen The Butcher” holds a grim, slo-mo tribute to Jawbox between its snare hits and dragged-out catchiness. This should feel strange next to the trip-hop shading of “Beauty School,” except “Prince” comes up next to reconcile the two with a hook built from squirming bass and stabs of guitar noise. The verse of “Rocket Skates” achieves a giddy accelerate-decelerate effect, and Carpenter’s Meshuggah-checking guitar figure perforates the groove in between. Then comes the full-on tenderness of “Sextape.” Granted, freedom to roam does come standard with Deftones, as do the many chunky and graceful tendencies of Diamond Eyes. What matters is that the band can still find different—and fun—ways to combine and contrast it all.