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The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019, #4: Deftones, Diamond Eyes

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MetalSucks recently polled nearly 180 prominent metal musicians and industry insiders to determine The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019! (You can read all about the voters and the methodology behind the poll here.) Over the next few weeks, we’ll be counting down the entire list, one entry per day.

The countdown continues today with Diamond Eyes (Reprise), the 2010 album from Deftones!

As we have with several bands on this list, when learning that Deftones’ 2010 entry, Diamond Eyes, outpaced their other efforts during the decade, we are forced to surmise why our intrepid list of voters, nearly 200 Folks Who Purportedly Know Lots of Stuff About Metal, picked this particular one. In a way it was close, but in another it wasn’t: Koi No Yokan received only one less vote than Diamond Eyes overall, but got smoked in the points department due to the volume of #1 votes (and top 5 nods) it received.

Thankfully, I think it’s pretty clear why Diamond Eyes resonated so deeply with Deftones fans: it was a comeback album, of sorts. The band’s 2003 self-titled effort saw the band experiment with more electronic elements, atmospherics and slower tempos, and its followup, Saturday Night Wrist, leaned hard into that direction. Chino has always and will always bring that influence to the band — just listen to his work with Crosses and Team Sleep — but on those two albums that effect was all too palpable for many, even if those discs had their share of heavy tracks, too.

Then came Diamond Eyes, with the buzzsaw opening riff of the title track an uppercut to the chin from the very start, and a volley of forceful jabs direct to the dome on the following three songs. It’s not until “Beauty School” that we get a bit of a respite, and even here the band harks back to the melodic yet still somehow weighty dynamic of early fan-favorites like “Digital Bath” and “Rx Queen.” “Prince” is powerful in its dissonant catchiness, “Rocket Skates” offers as classic a hard-hitting Deftones riff as has ever existed (it’s a live set staple to this day) along with the shout-along refrain “Guns! Razors! Knives! Fuck with me!” and so on and so forth; Diamond Eyes brings the riffs, and the riffs are what Deftones fans in 2010 craved most. The back half of the record is loaded with more introspective numbers, too, if that’s what you were after, and they’re all predictably great.

One more thing to consider: Diamond Eyes was the first Deftones album without bassist Chi Cheng, who remained in a coma following a devastating 2008 car accident. There’s no quantifying how much the other band members may have channeled their anger and sadness into the songs that would end up comprising Diamond Eyes, but it’s not possible Chi’s state didn’t play a factor.

By the time Deftones finish their currently in-development new album at some point in 2020 (already delayed, as is usually the case with this band), they’ll have been releasing music for 25 years. Does a band that’s already released a handful of Great Albums have another left in the tank? Given the deliberation and hand wringing that typically accompany their creative process — and the results they’ve produced so far — I certainly wouldn’t doubt it.

The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019:

#25: Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas, Mariner (2016)
#24: Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (2010)
#23: Pig Destroyer, Book Burner (2012)
#22: Yob, Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)
#21: The Black Dahlia Murder, Ritual (2011)
#20: Mastodon, Once More ‘Round the Sun (2014)
#19: At the Gates, At War with Reality (2012)
#18: Meshuggah, Koloss (2012)
#17: Gorguts, Colored Sands (2012)
#16: Between the Buried and Me, The Parallax II: Future Sequence (2012)
#15: The Ocean, Pelagial (2013)
#14: Kvelertak, Kvelertak (2010)
#13: Judas Priest, Firepower (2018)
#12: Metallica, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (2016)
#11: Converge, 
All We Love We Leave Behind (2012)
#10: The Dillinger Escape Plan, 
One of Us Is the Killer (2013)
#9: Rivers of Nihil, Where Owls Know My Name (2018)
#8: Deafheaven, Sunbather (2013)
#7: Baroness, 
Yellow & Green (2012)
#6: Power Trip, Nightmare Logic (2016)
#5: Ghost, Opus Eponymous (2010)

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