Unlike most Deftones albums, Gore kicks off not with a snotty ball of rage, but with a bit of a whimper. You could see the pondering slow-burner Prayers/Triangles as a mark of maturity.

After all, the Sacramento metallers have hit their 28th year together with their eighth album and first since the tragic death of bassist Chi Cheng.

You can't help but feel, as Chino Moreno hollers the song's signature refrain, "You will never be free," that this is a band who have been through some things.

But they've channelled that into an album that deftly balances progression with the fiery intensity they're known for.

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Things quickly kick up a gear, with the downtuned grind of Acid Hologram and the rapid riffage of Doomed User crafting brooding shitstorms for Chino Moreno to wail over.

It's the second half of the album where Gore takes some surprising turns.

Pittura Infamante's odd fretwork sounds like The Cure covering early Metallica, while (L)Mirl's bleak beginnings spill into a chorus so uplifting you can imagine Moreno doing sun salutations in the middle of a grassy field.

Phantom Bride almost sounds like a different band, with Moreno crooning over Alice in Chains' Jerry Cantrell's demure guitar solo. It ends with the festering sore of Rubicon, but you'll need to give Gore some some time, let it sink in and learn to live with it.

The Deftones have, and the rewards are obvious.

Deftones, Gore (Reprise)

Verdict:

Metallers remain in a class of their own