Ayo Jegede
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May 19, 2005
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Team Sleep Team Sleep
May 10, 2005
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Rock Music Reviews
Team Sleep
Team Sleep

though it may have seemed churlish at the time, Chino Moreno's gripes about playing on a second stage while Linkin Park played on the main stage of a tour was the indignation many suspected The Deftones sublimated for years. their frustrations were perfectly reasonable, seeing as how they had given dignity and wisdom to a genre that saw old men crooning about prom (Jonathan Davis); messianic Vanilla Ice copies (Fred Durst); and piddling newcomers (Chester Bennington) whose putatively sophisticated songwriting managed to find its way into the Kidz Bop compilations. part of why i admired the group was empathy--a quartet of veritable underdogs in a genre of vanishing veracity needs more respect than a second stage--but most of it was their genuinely good musical abilities. the band's tonal shifts were holistic and material, especially if one compares their debut Adrenaline, which very much saw a group reaching everywhere for everything, and 2003's Deftones, which saw a band that found itself. but, of course, their laudable achievements within the confines of Rap Rock and Nu-Metal shouldn't be conflated with achievements across all genres. though the Deftones' work may teeter on the genre's precipice, the sea beyond is far more formidable and extensive.

Team Sleep is a 10-year hack job whose explicit goal was to merge the ambient and electronic fixtures of Massive Attack with a bigger alt-rock coat. the first problem is that Moreno, Todd Wilkinson (guitars), and DJ Crook (beats) believe such a mergence necessary. in reality what made Mezzanine so dark--and i know when Moreno spoke of Massive Attack he probably thought specifically of Mezzanine--was precisely the splashes of rock that bound each song. both 'Angel' and 'Group Four' on the album only attained a heady ascension through the guitars in each. what Team Sleep does is instead haphazardly combine the two elements for anywhere from one to five minutes and hopes something arises. while going for intelligent synthesis Moreno and company only produce inflated unimportance.

the finished product itself is years and years of renaming, reconfiguring, and remaking, but not refinement. lead single 'Ever (Foreign Flag)' takes Moreno's puissant lyrical abilities and filters them through a dreamscape drum tempo, reverb bass, and a guitar that wants desperately to do something important but only plucks aimlessly. follower 'Your Skull is Red' is even more disheartening, sounding as though the rest of the Deftones turned soft and indie, Abe Cunningham and Stephen Carpenter electing to reduce their performance to Santana-lite prog. the same direction is heard again on 'Boulevard Nights' and 'Ever Since WWI,' both choosing to go lighter to preserve an already untenable ambiance. the rest is a combination of trip-hop shills, unengaged shorts ('Delorian,' 'Paris Arm'), and guest vocalists Rob Crow of Pinback and Mary Timony. Crow's performance ends up being the one silver lining in an otherwise abysmal assemblage, his soft timbre smoothing the poorly paved soundscapes on 'Princeton Review,' 'Elizabeth,' and '11-11' while Mary Timony's sole performance on 'Tomb of Liegia' comes off as a poor man's Stereolab.

what's worst about Team Sleep is Moreno's performance, which comes off routinely as affected and dishonest. his lyrics are haughty and indigestibly overwrought especially since his vocal range is optimal in the Metal arena: there his octaves aren't nodal changes, they change shrieks. the Deftone's active disassociation with nu-metal was necessary for them to effectively ignore the rules, resulting in their arguable best album, White Pony. but Moreno, Wilkinson, and Crook fail immensely once they enter a space where the rules were already terribly pliable. dispirited and disconnected, Team Sleep is an unfortunate misstep by one of the more talented musicians in Metal and a proposition that simply shouldn't have left the page.

Release date: May 10, 2005
Label: Maverick
Rating: 3.5 / 10