CD Review of Saturday Night Wrist by Deftones

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Saturday Night Wrist
starstarstarno starno star Label: Maverick Records
Released: 2006
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It seems like every review I write these days starts with “the last few years for (insert band name) have been tumultuous and the band came so close to breaking up.” Well, that sentence probably couldn’t hold truer for the nu-metal veteran Deftones, whose Saturday Night Wrist has been about three years in the making. From infighting between guitarist Stephen Carpenter and vocalist Chino Moreno, to writer’s block, to the near-decision by the entire band to oust Moreno (his side project, Team Sleep, has taken up a massive amount of his time and effort), the Deftones have truly been living in chaos since the release of 2003’s self-titled album.

Deftones have always been regarded as the artiest of the now-kaput nu-metal movement, and their reason for survival (much like Disturbed) is clear: they have evolved from a simplistic, power chord crunching outfit to a more experimental, risk-taking quintet – all the while retaining their signature heaviness. This is no small feat, as is evidenced on 2000’s masterpiece, White Pony. We know what the Deftones are capable of.

Saturday Night Wrist is a logical progression not so much from their previous effort, but rather White Pony. “Hole in the Earth,” the first single off the album, gets things started and is one of the best tracks. It is apparent from the outset that Moreno’s vocals are spot-on. His voice has a dreamlike quality that makes his transitions between octaves almost surreal. I have always been somewhat critical of the guy for overusing voice effects both in the studio and live, but he shines throughout Saturday Night Wrist. The record takes a 180 by track two with “Rapture,” which feels like a throwback to the Adrenaline days of noise and scattered vocals. Track three, “Beware,” may be one of the best songs the band has ever written. A six-minute opus, the song features a breakdown that literally had me jumping out of my seat. This track, in a nutshell, is the Deftones at their very best.

That “Beware” makes it appearance so early on ends up hampering much of the second half of Saturday Night Wrist due to the fact that no other offering even comes close to competing with it. The instrumental “U,U,D,D,L,R,L,R,A,B,Select,Start” is a trippy piece boasting some excellent atmospherics. Picture yourself playing 8-bit Nintendo under water with a pink elephant telling you to watch out for Bowser, and you’ll get an idea. Other offerings are flat-out bad, namely “Pink Cellphone,” “Mein” (featuring useless guest vocals by System of a Down’s Serj Tankian), and “Rats!Rats!Rats!”

The Deftones are the very definition of an unpredictable band. That is, unfortunately, a double-edged sword. The band doesn’t really bring forth anything new with Saturday Night Wrist, but the album does make enough of an impression that you’ll be glad they haven’t broken up. How many bands can you say that about?

~Bill Clark