Most pop-punk bands sing about feeling bad, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if they mean it. At this point, it’s undoubtedly pretty good to be Good Charlotte. They can cry if they want to–it’stheir party. Which means it’s a fine time for the return of Northern California’s Deftones, a seriously moody quintet whose fanbase overlaps equally with those of Korn, Weezer, and the Cure. The band’s monolithic White Pony (2000) hammered out a new template for sensitive skronk, paving the way for emo-metal hybridizers like the Used.On their fourth album, Deftones are sad as hell, and they’re not gonna take it anymore; this is less an 11-song album than a single long-form mope. Fans talk up singer Chino Moreno’s Smiths obsession, but Deftones doesn’t sound like The Queen Is Dead; it sounds like someone listening to The Queen Is Dead while cutting himself with a paper clip. Underwater. On the moon. Moreno howls conflicted litanies of frustration–“God bless you all,” he cries at one point; “Something’s wrong with you!” he bellows later. There are no hooks here, only particularly pummeling downward spirals. “Minerva” and “Lucky You” climb out of the murk, only to cannonball back down with an admirable intensity.
Some bands get tagged “goth” for wearing lots of black, but Deftones are gothic for real–they practically rewrite Faustevery time there’s uncomfortable silence on the other end of the cell (“When Girls Telephone Boys”). And with Deftones, they’ve built a cathedral of suffering, filled to the rafters with agony, awe, and terror. Ladies and gentlemen, your Sacramento Kings–of pain!