By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
For many Deftones fans, frontman Chino Moreno can do no wrong. He has one of the most recognizable and hypnotic voices in alternative rock/metal next to Maynard James Keenan, and has fronted the aforementioned genre-spanning, multiplatinum act for the last two and a half decades He’s also dipped his hand into a number of interesting work outside of the band over the years. Interesting to say the least…
Aside from dozens of guest appearances, Moreno has fronted three acts other than the Deftones. In 2005, he formed the dream pop outfit Team Sleep, embracing his love for The Cure and post-punk. However, it’s been in recent years last we’ve seen Moreno at his busiest. After release the successful Koi No Yokan with Deftones in 2012 and performing with the supergroup Palms just last year (see past reviews), Moreno now takes a step into electronica and “witch house” with his new project, ††† (Crosses).
Formed with childhood friend and Far guitarist Shaun Lopez and milti-instumentalist Check Doom and drummer Chris Robyn, ††† released their self-titled debut record via Sumerian Records in February. The record itself have received mixed reviews, but an explosive performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and a healthy buzz among underground rock fans have garnered the band some serious attention.
One thing Moreno has yet to do is repeat himself. ††† dabble into the Witch House genre, a style coined over the last several years that employs elements of dark ambient, electronic, industrial, experimental hip-hop and noise. While the clash of sonic textures are present, most of the tracks on ††† are more pop-structured, albeit experimental, which isn’t typical of Witch House. They sound similar in ways to new Nine Inch Nails music, and none of the tracks exceed four and a half minutes, leaving them easy to digest individually.
The tracklist does however flow into itself on ††† and the music feels like one long piece, a trademark of Witch House. It kicks off with “This Is A Trick,” featuring Loaded frontman and former Guns N’ Roses member Duff McKagan on bass. Songs like “Telepathy,” “Bitches Brew” and “Nineteen Ninety Four” clearly establish the sound on †††, with slamming and brutal bass riffs and a thick atmospheric heaviness. Other tracks like “The Epilogue,” “Frontiers” and “Option” provide a more eerie vibe, and sound a bit more in tune with something Mike Patton would conjure up. Overall, the album flows seamlessly and is best listened to in it’s entirety or at least in chunks.
††† and Deftones have little in common other than Moreno’s voice and signature dramatic song writing. They create a heaviness out of glitched samples and wailed noise, whereas the Deftones utilize heavy down-tuned riffs for their space rock atmosphere. Still, fans will most likely embrace ††† for most of the same reasons; it’s deep, brutal and it simply rocks! One can play White Pony and ††† back to back, and still feel most of the same sensations. Overall, another win for Moreno.