Deftones’ ‘Ohms’ is the 2020 Album of the Year
Twenty years after releasing their landmark White Pony, and 10 years following the gorgeous and vibrant Diamond Eyes, Deftones added another masterwork to their discography with Ohms — Loudwire’s pick for the Best Album of 2020.
Deftones fans were shot with a jolt of excitement once it was revealed that Around the Fur / White Pony producer Terry Date was returning to collaborate with the Los Angeles band for the first time in 17 years. Reports of guitarist Stephen Carpenter rededicating himself to the writing process, after largely taking a back seat for 2016’s Gore, further signaled a classic in the making, bringing the hype for Deftones’ ninth album to a fierce peak.
As 2020 turned into a worldwide annis horribilis, the themes of isolation within Ohms, which were mostly written and tracked in 2019, became tragically relevant. “I did a few overdubs, but lyrically it really didn’t change much,” vocalist Chino Moreno explained in an interview with Full Metal Jackie. “I myself felt like I was dealing with this sense of isolation. I was living out in the mountains for a good five to six years, and I moved straight from Los Angeles, where I was around my friends and going out to shows and doing stuff all the time.”
“After a certain amount of time, I was longing just for some connection and wanting to have that thing that I was missing in my life. It's ironic that the album is a mirror of what we're going through.”
On Aug. 20, Deftones officially announced Ohms after a week-long buildup of teasers and billboard ads. The following day, fans were introduced to the title track, a gorgeous mid-tempo piece led by an infectious dream-pop guitar lead and air-tight rhythm work by Sergio Vega, Frank Delgado and Abe Cunningham.
“‘Ohms’ was born from Stephen sending me a demo tape, like three years ago, of this riff, pretty much an eight-minute piece of music that had all the riffs from that song in it, but sort of sporadic all over,” Moreno told Loudwire Nights. “I came really quick with the vocal melody, pretty much right in that moment when we all started playing it for the first time.”
“The vibe of the lyrics were kind of surrounded around the environment. I felt it morphing into more of a general thing of connection and being connected. It could be more about a relationship or whatever, but I like to do that when I have lyrics — to have some anonymity in there so people can have their own connection to it.”
Deftones – "Ohms" (Official Music Video)
The album’s second single, “Genesis,” spotlit the heavier side of Deftones, delivering thoughtful lyrics about individuality and balanced with a brutal, down-tuned lead from Carpenter. Before the entire Ohms album was even released, it became clear to fans that Carpenter’s active songwriting approach had paid massive dividends for the band.
“It’s always great when everybody’s in the same place from the creative process,” Moreno explained. “A lot of times, especially with technology these days, it got easier for us to make music... I don’t want to say separated, but just in more fragmented ways.”
“There’s something that happens when we are all in the same room and we’re all playing together — there’s this sort of energy that is just prominent when the five of us get together. I don’t want to say it’s exactly the same as when we were young in Stephen’s garage, but it definitely gets us closer to that as opposed to everybody just kind of putting their ideas down and then the next person comes in, and the next person comes in.”
“We have a lot more tendency to react to one another immediately, and I think that some of our best music is made in that manner.”
Deftones – "Genesis" (Official Music Video)
Through the strength of “Ohms” and “Genesis,” along with the furious dedication of Deftones fans, Ohms hit No. 5 on the Billboard 200, giving the band one of the strongest debuts of their career.
Deftones reign as one of the few veteran bands who can boast no weak albums in their catalogue. With Ohms, Deftones didn’t just extend their hot streak to nine albums — they created their strongest work since Diamond Eyes and arguably a Top 3 album when ranking their 21st century discography. Ohms was undoubtedly a high water mark of 2020 and is our pick for Album of the Year.