After nearly 20 years together and a slew of side projects, Deftones' provocative metal blend continues to resist mainstream classification. Saturday Night Wrist, the band's fifth, is its fiercest yet, building on the blistering intensity of 2000's White Pony but pulling also from the more visceral impulses of the 2003 self-titled release. The Deftones' professional struggles and personal demons are on display here, but Wrist doesn't ache as much as you might think. Maybe that's a product of working with two producers (vet Alice Cooper-Pink Floyd man Bob Ezrin and ex-Far and Revolution Smile guitarist Shaun Lopez) in five different locations. Or maybe it's a sign of veteran craft; either way, the album harbors an unpredictability that's catchy. From the slow-motion growl of Chino Moreno's vocals, through to the group's usual vigor, Wrist couldn't be better. "Beware" is lunging and urgent, "A Hole in the Earth" burns at a steady white heat, and "Mein" (with a guest shot from System of a Down vocalist Serj Tankian) is a riot of electric guitar, sparking even more flare-ups. There are also a few turns toward the completely bizarre ("Pink Cellphone"), illustrating again the Deftones' restless nature as both songwriters and metal dudes.
MacKenzie Wilson writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.