The 7-year old iPod video was placed to shuffle mode. The Artist was Deftones. The Album was Koi No Yokan. The volume was maxed out. The first track to play was Entombed.
The intro had a haunting guitar riff. It felt like a chorus effect with a huge punch of reverb as it clanged to the mind. The slow tempo gave more than enough time for the moderately paced, mellow 15-note riff to squeeze in. Chromatic. Harmonious. Chino Moreno’s voice enters the scene:
“From the day you arrived
I’ve remained by your side
In chains, entombed.”
Every third note in the five sets of the riff ascended. Despite the ascension, it felt like lifting a dead weight bound to each prior note. It felt heavy. The progression flirted with Chino’s voice. The chorus played and crushed all distractions:
“Placed inside, safe and sound
Shades of colors are all I see
Shapes of colors are all I feel”
The distortion was just enough to clearly hear the vocals. He was not screaming, nor was it a growl of anger. It felt like a shout for help. Trapped, but not hurt. Safe, but helpless. Entombed.
Was the song about love? Was it an allusion to Chi Cheng’s coma? For a band that plays alternative metal, Deftones focuses much more on the philosophical and artistic messages than emotive inclinations to head bang. They are more than capable to invoke the emotions of its cult following, but depth and sublimity are preferred.
The band won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance last 2001 for their song Elite. Three albums went on platinum while their self-titled album went gold. The Koi No Yokan album won the “Album of the Year” from Revolver, during its Golden Gods Awards. The band went to the Philippines last May as part of their Asian tour, only a month after their long-time bassist, Chi Cheng passed away.
Shuffle mode moved to the next song: Swerve City. It was more aggressive: The tempo was faster. The distortion was also dirtier. The beats were definitely harder. The lyrics kicked in:
“She tames me with her voices.
As she plays around with her forces
That travel through the air”
This was an exposition. Instead of letting loose, it was trying to subdue. Eyes closed, the song felt more of a narration. The fast pace had this portrayal of feeling unsettled. The slight delay mix felt racy. It continued:
“The distant howling out
Keeps you floating around
Distant howling out forces
Visceral. Impulsive. Intense. A heavy metal song that can turn on all the senses. It is an invitation to the story of being tempted. This is where it all began: Seduction. It created a curiosity. This was not just any album. Lest we forget that this is Deftones music being discussed. It would be wise not to underestimate its depth.
The fall from the pit was harder than expected. Shuffle mode ended and went to the song Graphic Nature:
“Leave your trail open
Let me inside
Guess I’m confused more or less
Shed some light
And tell me your secret
How are you trained?
I promise you I can keep it
Go on explain…”
The chorus blows by:
“Tell me how you do it
Every time it takes my knees out
Cause every time you do it
This time there were no metaphors. The flirt was not hiding in lyrical bushes. It was outright and blatant. The track felt like it was begging for mercy while carelessly admitting defeat. It felt consensual despite the curiosity. The chorus asks, wails for an answer: Why are you doing this to me all the time? Why am I caught off guard? And why is it always with you?
Hands down, this album is a lyrical masterpiece. The powerful prose that Deftones is accustomed to delivering is once again seen in this album. They are always a step further into meaning, a step faster into shifting artistic gears. The medium, alternative metal, took a bit of a backseat to word play. Nonetheless, it was still complementary.
The review was almost done, but the dilemma suddenly popped through. The album name has not been defined. No discussion of word origin and contextualization. It was left hanging. BIG mistake.
Koi No Yokan
Koi No Yokan is an untranslatable Japanese concept that delves with the notion of acceptance. It is the idea that you will someday fall in love with a person you just met. No, this is not about love, nor the state of being in love. Infatuation was never even considered. Rather, Koi No Yokan resembles more of an admission of fate, a surrender to sweet destiny. It is inevitable.
All the while, the thematic unity of Koi No Yokan did weave all the songs into this surreal experience of admission and acceptance. It felt like all the tracks in the album were cards waiting to be dealt. Teased but controlled, it journeyed to the all the pent-up emotions, hinting on the reality of falling. The carnal bliss (track: rosemary), the restless desperation (track: tempest), the romantic agony (track: romantic dreams) were the gradual openness to this idea. It was unnerving. Falling in love is uncertain and uncontrollable, but all the feelings relating to it are unavoidable. This album will lead you to an indescribable concoction, a haven for lost emotions with the right temperament of distortion and metaphors.
Koi No Yokan, the premonition of love.