Sunday, 21 February 2010

Saturday Night Wrist
Maverick Records
Rating: 4/5

I once got into a big and surprisingly impassioned argument with one of my girlfriend’s (at the time) best mates as to which was the best Deftones album. He held, as per the orthodox view, that White Pony was their masterwork. Now, I can never understand why even metallers prefer it- White Pony represents a more alt-rock sensibility when compared to the alternative metal of Adrenaline and Around the Fur, not to mention the full-on metal assault of Deftones, the follow up. Yet still they cling to it like a life-raft. I mean sure, the song structures are exceptional, there’s a reasonable degree of variety on offer (within the genre confines) and the singing is breathtaking, but it’s just not that heavy. The thick guitar tones are more reminiscent of the Smashing Pumpkins than Tool, and the relative lack of screaming (save from the riff-heavy ‘Elite’) sets them apart from the Nu-Metal bands they were lazily lumped in with.

My point is that Saturday Night Wrist shares these things in common with White Pony; its layered production, space-rock leanings and alt-rock attitude caused such tension in the band that Steven Carpenter threatened to leave. No wonder; it’s such a departure from the hard m
etal of Deftones that it doesn’t make sense that their discography should run so. Oh, wait. Enter Team Sleep, Chino’s side project. More Massive Attack than Metallica, their excellent self-titled experimental rock/trip hop album clearly has rubbed off on Chino’s main project. Playing many more guitar credits on the album and notably composing more, Saturday Night Wrist is an assertion of Chino’s development as a songwriter, and it is thus easy to see why tensions would emerge.

So what does it sound like? Well, take White Pony, add a Z-Vex Fuzz Factory and some real spacey delays, as well as some very subtle sampling and keyboard work and you’ve pretty much got it. Highlights are ‘Beware’, with its chilling chorus vocal hook, the anthemic ‘Cherry Waves’, and ‘Xerces’ as well as the more classic ‘Shut up and Drive (Far Away)’-style ‘Mein’ and ‘KimDracula’, arguably the best song on there. The thing is, I love the album for those songs, but fans of the Defs’ harder-hitti
ng fare would be at home with the frantic ‘Rats!Rats!Rats!’, ‘Rapture’ and ludicrously headbangly-heavy ‘Combat’. The opener, ‘Hole in the Earth’ falls somewhere between the two camps and is a fitting opener to set the mood of the album; the only real weak points are the instrumental ‘U, U, D, D, L, R, L, R, A, B, Select, Start’ and the closer ‘Riviere’. Even the disturbed ‘Pink Cellphone’ is not only entertaining but also bizarrely catchy in its glitchy electronica.

The problem then is this: if Saturday Night Wrist is the true spiritual successor to White Pony, then why does everyone hate it so much?

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