Ohms is Stef Carpenter not only engaged, but on fire. The single started out life as a 12-minute onslaught emailed to Chino – boasting an ascending introductory and closing riff so big that the rest of the band struggled to compete with it.
“Stephen’s guitar tone is so damn thick,” Abe recently enthused. “It’s hard to get the drum and everything else sounding huge when the fucking guitar’s eating up all of that prime real estate!”
Abe’s comment rings true. Emerging from a wash of synth, the introductory riff makes an enormous impression. Yes, Ohms captures the band firing on all cylinders, but Stef seemingly has some excess cylinders for good measure. When the track finally cuts loose at 3:20, it’s a different kind of heavy for Deftones: yes it’s loud, but also uplifting and joyous. It suits them.
The track is also a perfect primer for the themes of self-reflection and adjustment at the heart of its parent album. ‘It’s too late to cause a change in the tides,’ sings Chino at one point, while reaffirming his status as one of the world’s most compelling and versatile vocalists. Elsewhere, we hear him observe, ‘Time won’t change this,’ altering the tone. ‘We shall remain.’
There is an enthralling sense of ambiguity unfolding here – it’s hard to tell whether the sands of times past are something we suffocate in or rest gracefully on top of. In an unpublished section of this week’s Kerrang! Cover Story interview, we asked Chino directly if this is a hopeful song or not…
“It's basically, like, here we are, this is where we are today,” Chino replied, pondering the opening lines about being ‘surrounded by debris of the past’. “We’re surrounded by every decision that we’ve made in the past, but the chorus is very hopeful and optimistic. Lyrically, I didn’t change much. These were the first thoughts that came and I just wrote them down and they worked. Sometimes you get lucky like that.”
Chino Moreno might call it luck. But to everyone else? This is the sound of a band who are still making songs to compete with the best. Nine albums in, luck has very little to do with it.
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