February 23, 2010: Deftones release a preview track from comeback album Diamond Eyes.
This was a bittersweet development. Sweet, because any new Deftones release is 24-point font headline news. And bitter? Original bass player Chi Cheng still laid in a minimally conscious state from his November 2008 car accident. This way, over a year's worth of material — sessions commencing in fall 2007 and necessarily halted at the time the crash — were set aside for an altogether new tracklist, composed with Sergio Vega on bass. The remaining band members were effectively shelving what was possibly the last of Cheng's output (the “Eros sessions”), mat
erial originally intended to be their sixth studio album.
It was also a precarious move: White Pony — truly a transcendent masterpiece and easily their best work — was nearly ten years old. There was a not-insignificant risk of Diamond Eyes flopping commercially and aesthetically, to say nothing of the PR damage.
But the gamble paid off. Diamond Eyes, is excellent, truly the Deftones' best, hardest, and most complex work in years. The album peaked higher on the Billboard 200 than any other Deftones release save their debut. Rock critics bathed in it, and — in the case of Sputnikmusik's Nick Greer — announced that it had exceeded the standard set by White Pony, concluding simply: “Deftones' best album to date.”
Guys? It really is great to have you back. At least one correspondent needs to dye the gray out of his hair and go see you live again. If memory serves, you put on one hell of a show.
Stay current on Cheng's progress here, at One Love For Chi.