Being a metalhead, one of the things that I’ve discovered is that a large percentage of the metal community is fairly receptive (in a positive way) to the Alternative Metal / Rock act Deftones. And why the hell not? They’re good. Whether it be Chino Moreno’s uniquely soft yet explosive vocals, the smooth bass lines of the late Chi Cheng, or the bands ability as a whole to combine a good amount of atmosphere into their hard rock style, Deftones have established themselves as visionaries within a genre that can easily become stale. Their first three albums in particular deserve recognition for their vast influence within the rock scene over the past two decades. Not to mention, it was this period in their career that demonstrated the greatest leap in the progression of their style. So grab your erb, blunt wraps, and skateboards as we dive into the world of Deftones.
“I GET BORED!”. Hardly. If anything this album was a breath of fresh air within the Alternative Metal / Rock scene. Sure the production was pretty rough but that was part of this album’s charm. The overall sound had a Post-Hardcore feel to it and was fairly heavy and full of angst in many parts. It always reminded me in some ways of a 90’s version of Suicidal Tendencies’ debut, although that’s entirely subjective (so fuck off elitist trolls). Some of Deftones’ long lasting classics yield from this release, including “Bored”, “7 Words”, and “Engine No. 9”. Adrenaline was one helluva debut.
Around the Fur (1997).
Man this is a fun album. The entire listen through feels like a mid-summer pool party, which is appropriate when you look at the album cover. Aside from that, Around the Fur showed Deftones expanding on their sound since their debut. First, the production improved greatly. Although rough production worked well for Adrenaline, improved production was a blessing for this album as it really helped give the grooves a much thicker sound. And yeah, this was a much groovier album. Second, Frank Delgado made his first appearance with the band on this album. His sampling techniques, although only used in a few tracks, added some much desired depth to each. A prominent example of this could be found in “Dai the Flu”. Around the Fur was far from a sophomore slump. Play it in your car and “Drive (Far Away)”.
White Pony (2000).
Several, if not most fans have credited White Pony as Deftones’ masterpiece. Well, while that’s up to debate there is one fairly objective statement that can be made about this album. White Pony is the album in which the band members finalized their sound. This is the album that essentially created the blueprint for their following releases. Frank Delgado became a full time band member and many of their aggressive elements were traded in for atmospheric audio samples and a focus on experimental song writing. The album itself was more diverse than their past two releases. “Elite” and “Back to School” were straight forward with strong Nu Metal influences, whereas “Digital Bath” and “Change in the House of Flies” focused primarily on creating a world of atmosphere. The track “Korea” was reminiscent of their Around the Fur era whereas “Passenger” had a strong Tool vibe (plus guest vocals by Maynard James Keenan himself). Deftones’ masterpiece? Possibly. Influential, Legendary, a Modern Work of Art? Definitely.