Since forming right before the heyday that was the so called “Nu Metal” movement, Chino, Abe, Stephen, Chi, and later Frank have never been comfortable with the bag they got lumped into. But as times often change, the Sacramento gang was able to find their own niche and create music that embraced briefs moment of hip hop, but also cautiously crafted soundscapes, wailing screams filled with terror, and experiences of gorgeous beauty that still hasn’t been touched among peers. They've maintained their high level of creativity, and after all these years, are still able to move fans in a way that their modern metal peers can only hope to get close to. Here’s the countdown of the five best, most important Deftones albums.
5.Saturday Night Wrist, 2006
While by this point the band has certainly found their footing in terms of what constitutes their own original sound, they still manage to get on the ledge of what was acceptable during their early years. Track four, “Beware” is a muddy, night sky filled trek into gradual darkness, that's only accentuated by Moreno’s trademark hollowing vocals during the chorus. It’s also probably known more as their least forceful, most textured album since the pinnacle of what ended up being “White Pony.” Sure they have heavily in your face tracks like the onslaught that is “Rats!Rats!Rats!,” but they also slow is down various times and bring you into a lush world with the instrumentation of a song such as “Xerces,” that for my money still stands as one of their best tracks, from any album. Towards the end of the session though, “Kimdracula” shines a light through the hazy, biting atmosphere as Moreno soars using his voice, all the while the backing band crashing down like a wave onto rock of jagged rock as the sun sets on another fruitful recording session.
4. Gore, 2016
At this juncture in their career, the ‘tones are able to both stay true to themselves as musicians while also pushing limits. As an album, “Gore,” was a show of strength but apparently quite a few older fans still long for the brutality of the “ATF” era. I get it, but as they’ve evolved over the course of twenty years, it’s been rewarding as a music fan in general to see what new things they can make stick. This album still has the upbeat angst you love about the band.“Doomed User,” with its distorted and thick guitar sound comes to mind, but it also exposes weakness in lyrical content, open to vulnerability from the mind of the person expounding the lyrics themselves. Shortly after that they nuzzle you into a layered, glum track called “Hearts/ Wires,” where the band turns down the notch while still delivering. Coming near the end of the record, the title track has a kind of scat musicianship happening, with Cunningham’s drumming making the listener uneasy as the explosive breakdown comes during the moments of the chorus. It’s an easy enough strategy but takes skill and craftsmanship to sell, which they do with ease. As the album closes with “Rubicon” it’s clear that the bands unique sound is still intact, and what would you know, they picked up a few new tricks to lure fans even deeper into admiration.
3.Koi No Yokan, 2012
The status of the band before the release of this album was difficult, heartbreaking one, to say the least. Following the untimely death of founding member Chi, and the ultimate scrapping of an album called “Eros” no one knew exactly what this band still had left to prove. In typical fashion, however, they came out swinging and ready to show their resolve to fans eager to know if they should, or could continue without Chi. The whole album is like a monument to the bass player, and it’s one of their most poignant albums. From the bounce qualities of “Swerve City,” to depressing but clear minded conclusion of “What Happened to You?” the five members are able to pour their energy into positivity when it’s needed the most. That’s not to say that all of the heavy, bombastic qualities are gone. “Leathers” has a quiet danger to it’s opening, but as the wielding blade that is Chino’s voice slashes into the forefront, you’re reminded that this band can turn the beautiful into the brutal in a blink of an eye. The radio hit “Tempest” struck a chord with audiences too, and once again they found the mainstream success that had had periodically since the days of that wonderful third album.
2. Around the Fur, 1997
I was still very much ingrained into the metal of that year, but much of it lacked the staying power that “Around the Fur” seemed to dwell on even more than twenty years after it’s touching down onto the musical landscape. Unabashedly the bands most violent, reckless album, it’s also one of its crowning achievement. I doubt the band could be as harsh these days as they were then, but artists always grow and evolve. From the low down rhythm section of the opener “My Own Summer,” the band takes you on a trip of veracious brutality and syncopated timed signatures that both disorient and engage the listener. Songs like the one two punch of “Mascare,” and “Around the Fur” come across as dynamic, but within seconds the intensity of a track like “Rickets,” with more than your share of full throated screaming washes away anything that was left standing. In short, this album doesn’t let up for much of it’s duration. It also has massive fan favorites like the brilliant “Be Quiet and Drive,” which propelled the band to a new level early on in their career, which helped them to gain even more attention when a certain ‘Pony” came prancing along...
1.White Pony, 2000
When this first came out, or should i say “leaked,” back when that kind of thing rarely ever happened, my group of friends were flabbergasted at the sound emanating from the record. It was futuristic, melodic, dreamy and energized all in one. It wasn’t like the music we were normally hooked on, and frankly it's a great thing we latched onto it in a way that made it part of ourselves. This WAS the record of that year to us, and it completely changed how I looked and accepted music. I found myself trying more and more new things that hadn’t interested me before, and at the core of all that was the superb nature of the songs themselves. “Teenager” still reminds me of song you’d hear on a rainy night in the world of “Blade Runner” while “Digital Bath” had this unease romanticism to it that swayed you to contentment. The band was going way out there in terms of what might or might work, but in the eighteen years since its release, it’s still hailed as their best, most beautifully open album. It also doesn't hurt when Keenan from a little band called Tool assists in what i always looked at as an unofficial sequel, or retelling of “BQAD” in the form of “Passenger.” Nearly every song still has the ability to touch a cord, from the female sounding wails on “Knife Prty,” to the band's biggest hit overall, “Change(in the House of Flies). Since trying something new and groundbreaking on this record, the band has managed to delve into certain elements form this epic effort in a more careful, thoughtful way, but without the breakthrough of this one album, who knows where the band would have ended up. It’s for these reasons that “White Pony” stands as the bands epic masterpiece.
Thanks for reading!
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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