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Deftones “Saturday Night Wrist” Review

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Inching the band closer to a sound that it began realizing with 2000’s White Pony, the Deftones return after a three year hiatus with the dramatic Saturday Night Wrist; an album that not only characterizes the band’s direction but displays also what has made it vital since it first released Adrenaline in 1995. Shifting from a purely metal fan base to that of the popularity driven nü-metal, to that of a distinctly mainstream rock fan isn’t something that a typical band has historically had to deal with, let alone overcome. And as the band closes in on a twenty years together it becomes blatantly apparent that the Deftones have done something that won’t soon be forgotten by releasing Saturday Night Wrist.

The longevity of bands’ careers often finds itself dwindling as its individual members seek additional sources for feedback and creative rejuvenation allowing their once mighty symbol to fade into history. With White Pony the Deftones reached a definitive apex and looked as though it too was being lured in by the history’s negative spirits. Though not the band’s highest charting album, though possibly its most well rounded, White Pony represented something more, a mainstream acceptance that hadn’t been fulfilled at even the highest peak in nü-metal. The album’s singles “Change,” and “Back to School” distanced the band from metal, in any sense of the genre, and helped formulate the band as that of a modern rock band instead of a modern metal band.

With its follow-up, 2003’s Deftones, there was another shift, but not to something further musically, but rather a shift in its fan base. The album reached number two on the charts, the band’s highest position, but failed to encourage growth amongst its fan base with the album’s grittingly hard tracks and advanced synth dynamics. The longevity of bands’ careers often finds itself dwindling as its individual members seek additional sources of creative rejuvenation, and following the release of Deftones Chino Moreno escaped into his 2005 nouveaux trip hop production Team Sleep, Chi Ching continued to devote time towards his activism and poetry and Abe Cunningham and Stephen Carpenter continued working with their side-projects (Phallucy and Kush, respectively). Though the Deftones didn’t look to be finished, the band it was most certainly leaning towards those lines.

Saturday Night Wrist does a number of things right at what many consider to be the exact breaking point of the band. Tracks such as “Xerces” and “Mein” featuring System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian keep the White Pony era in the back of the listener’s mind before Wrist pounds “Rats!Rats!Rats!” with Adrenaline like vigor. But once again those outside sources that seem to have killed so many greats are what allow the band to utilize its own uniqueness. Ambient faux-poetry is everywhere and looming moments of repetition are swallowed by typical Deftones command, and in a time when popularity may be at a lull, the band finds its craft at a high.

That being said, Wrist finds itself at times the victim of the band’s history. Multiples times throughout it seems to be catering to its fan circa 1997 and at times it fails at capturing its ever-available power with near-hit performances. It’s hard to allegorize the Deftones with any other bands, past or present, as they have succeeded in a career which now looks to be far from complete and have done so with continual media scrutiny and the previously mentioned shifting fan base. Saturday Night Wrist, while not nearly as strong as some previous efforts, looks to be a balance for its members – allowing each to fulfill their respective artistic paths through a collective voice. More importantly though, it shows that history will not prevail in limiting the bands output by tearing it apart, but rather shall succeed in depicting the Deftones as one of the premier rock bands of this or any generation.