Argh! Okay, i know. I have been neglecting this blog recently, and i’m ashamed of it. I have reasons, though. College work is getting crazy for one, I have been spending quality time with the young lady as well as my creation of my new blog(!) Viewed Magazine. Go check it’s ass out, yo.
So Deftones week has become Deftones year it seems. Ah well, it was a good idea, albeit executed poorly. But let’s finish this shit. Onto the most controversial and some would say weakest album in the ‘Tones discography. Originally titles Lovers, Deftones is the darkest and at times, the bleakest record the band has made. Coming off the back of their creative highpoint in White Pony and years of touring that record, even after a break they still found themselves to be stretched to their limits.
When the band emerged from the studio to tour the globe, all the members, particularly Chino, looked fat and schlubby. This was reflected in their performances from the time, which lacked the electric energy of their previous years. Nevertheless, the best material on Deftones is the band firing on all cylinders. Opener Hexagram is possibly the heaviest song the band had committed to tape at that point (and maybe still) and contained genuinely terrifying screams from Chino. When Girls Telephone Boys has a clear influence drawn from hometown buddies Will Haven and Minerva is as graceful as the band had ever been. But these highlights are sandwiched between under-developed songs such as Good Morning Beautiful and Anniversary Of An Uninteresting Event.
This is a dark, dense record that at times lays a claim to be the weakest in the Deftones arsenal. But it’s highs are some of the greatest songs they have ever written, and that makes this record another important step for the always-progressing band.
And so onto the next chapter in the Deftones evolution. White Pony is pretty much regarded as the ‘tones finest hour, and it’s the first album that made me aware that they were gonna become one of my favourite bands. I got it for Christmas along with Metallica’s Black Album and was rocking the fuck out on xmas morning.
From the outset, it’s pretty clear the band have changed a fair bit. For a start, Chino is playing guitar now. It gives the songs on WP a chunkier feel, and lets Stef be more creative with his playing. Frank Delgado is also a full member of the band and his effects and sounds give the whole record a depth that had evaded previous albums. Kicking off with the shot of adrenaline that is Feiticeira, the band are on fire. Chino’s singing is now a lot more subdued (he barely screams throughout the album, apart from the venomous Elite) and he has gotten far better than the clunky notes he hit on Around The Fur.
The title itself is a drug reference and it’s clear throughout that Chino at least was a bit of a cokehead. It would keep spiralling for a few years until the chaos of making Saturday Night Wrist in 2006. But at this point, the band were having fun and pretty much at the top of their game live.
All of the rapping has dissipated, and this more ‘grown up’ sound is underlined by the appearance of one of metal’s most enigmatic figures, Tool’s Maynard James Keenan to sing a duet with Chino on the incredible Passenger. They also have their first slow song, with the trip-hop-esque Teenager their first real shot at the chilled version of Deftones they would perfect in later years.
The album also included the popular single Change (In The House Of Flies) and their most experimental single ever, Digital Bath. Both of these songs demonstrate the album’s breadth in terms of sound and mood. Check out these performances of these two songs at the time of White Pony’s release. Change is a huge anthem, custom made for epic festival singalongs. Digital Bath on the other hand, is a slow burning mood piece which explodes into Chino’s passionate singing. They now look like a rock band, rather than some crazy metal kids, and they sound it too. They proceeded to tour the world on the back of the album, and to take time off afterwards. Then shit got crazy. But you’ll have to wait till next week for that! I know the three people reading are PSYCHED for that!
Okay, sorry about the lack of posts but many factors have contributed to this delay and all are more important than my self-important music ramblings. But on with the show!
Last things fucking first. This is where Deftones turned into the band they always threatened they would be. With the rapping (mostly) gone, here is a collection of great metal songs. Opening with the unmistakable snare and riff of My Own Summer (Shove It), the band lets rip on nearly every track here. Around The Fur is the first showcase for their new member, Frank Delgado, with his ominous sound effects lurking in the background, adding previously unheard depth to many of the songs here. This record contains some of their best ever songs: Around The Fur’s rage, Be Quiet And Drive’s beauty and Lotion’s groove. This record reminds me of long hot summers, with an ice cool beer and no worries.
This was also a golden peroid for the band in live terms. Chino’s voice was never better and Delgado slipped into the fray with ease. Just watch how energetic the band are here: Abe is killing it on drums and Chino is just hella engaging as a frontman. Even Stef is moving a bit, which is a lot for the big dude. This was a special time for the band, where they were expanding their horizons and discovering they were capable of big things. And it was only to get better…….
So the new Deftones record is out tomorrow. It’s their best album since White Pony, which is saying something. I’m gonna do a run down of each of their albums this week, cause a) I’m a huge fan and b) it’s my blog and I can do what I cotton pickin’ please. I hope this will shed some light on the evolution of one of the most forward-thinking metal bands of the modern era. If not, then at least you can read my inane ramblings and ignore at will.
Adrenaline is where it all started for the Sacramento band. First off, this is a pretty dated album. It has all the hallmarks of the burgeoning nu-metal scene at the time (which didn’t seem like to bad an idea to most people), Korn-y riffs, downtuned guitars, rapping/screaming and the like. The big difference here is the small indicators that this band were willing to spread their wings slightly.
Stephen Carpenter’s guitar work draws more from thrash than chunky, simplistic Limp Bizkit-esque riffing. Abe Cunningham’s drumming is excellent, and he would go on to carve a niche as one of the leading drummers of alternative music afterwards. Another plus is frontman Chino Moreno’s lyrics – full of dark imagery and strange wordplay. At it’s roots, this is still a decent nu-metal record, but one that points it’s way to better things for this ambitious band.
So the new Deftones record, Diamond Eyes, has leaked. A full two months before the release date too. For the band, I guess that’s bad, if not entirely suprising news. The good news? It’s good. Really good, in fact. The general consensus is that it’s their best work since their magnum opus, 2000’s White Pony, and I would agree, but then again I am a fan of all of their post-Pony work, namely Deftones and Saturday Night Wrist.
But I can see why people fell away from the band a little since then. Deftones was a dark, punishing record, probably their heaviest to date (or at least their most aggressive/confrontational). Saturday Night Wrist was an improvement, with more melody and heart within the songs, as well as the return of big choruses, something which was something of a rarity on S/T. After bassist Chi Cheng was hospitalised and fell into a coma, the band tried to continue on. The album they were creating, Eros, was shelved and they started all over again. And here we are, with Diamond Eyes.
The record opens with the title track, a lurching beast which suddenly opens up with a sweeping, romantic chorus with Chino crooning “Time will see us realise/diamonds rain across the sky”. From the off, it’s clear, the band are more focused than they have been in years. The second thing that is apparent is the improvement in Chino’s singing. Since White Pony, his voice (live anyway) has ranged from weak to awful at times. The years of screaming had clearly began to take it’s toll, and his vocal chords were suffering, as they had done in the past.
The second track, Royal, further demonstrates Chino and the band’s renewed vigour. The songs thuds into life instantly, full of dark drama and Chino bringing his ‘I’m gonna freak out and kill you/myself’ vocal delivery once more. The harmonies on this tune are great. Once it hits the 3.00 min mark, Chino opens his throat and unleashes a scream that lasts ten seconds and literally took my breath away. I stopped the song and rewound it, it blew my mind that much.
Chino has his swagger back on CMND/CTRL, with the band giving him a funky riff to bounce off. It’s another quality tune, with old-school ‘tones groove all over it. You’ve Seen The Butcher is a standout, with it’s off-kilter rhythm and Chino’s expressive melodies. It has a sexy hook and a danceable feel to it, and continues this albums streak of great songs.
Beauty School is a welcome chilled tune, with the guitar interplay between Stef and Chino driving the song, offset by Frank’s keys. It also boasts a huge, epic hook, and is the closest the band have came to writing a power ballad. Prince freaked me out to begin with, cause the band have basically rerecorded RX Queen from White Pony in the verses. Lucky for us the song opens up half-way and reveals a MAJOR riff, with Chino at his most passionate as he screams “I guess to the world outside/I’m okay, I’m alright”. It’s a great moment.
The single, Rocket Skates is up next, with it’s huge riffs and the awesome screams of “Guns! Razors! Knifes!”. It’s catchy as all hell, but a little too long. Still a banger though. Sextape takes it down a bit again, with some plaintive guitar and effects bringing Chino’s crooning to the forefront. Really understated drumming and a general meditative vibe give this track the weight it needs to support Chino’s emotion-filled vocals. Incredible stuff. He’s really back to his best.
Risk is another peach of a tune, a sexy bass riff letting Chino get his groove on again. The band sound tight and confident here, and this one is gonna kill live. It’s surprising how mellow the album is, especially the second half. Usually they have one song that’s just a huge heavy beast, like Elite on White Pony or When Girls Telephone Boys on Deftones. The heaviest track on Diamond Eyes is the second one, Royal, which is nowhere near a Hexagaram or Rats! Rats! Rats! level of brutality. Hmm.
976-EVIL is a pretty silly song title, but the song itself is good. A bit of a grower for me, only really clicked with it on the second or third listen. Sounds like an evolution of the SNW stuff like Xerces and Cherry Waves, with an added progressive rock feel. The disc ends with This Place Is Death, a title that I have been told is a Lost reference. I care not. This is another step away from the norm for the band, with Chino draped in effects while the band jam underneath him. It’s a little anti-climatic, and probably the weakest song on the album.
So there it is. Overall, it’s a really great album, one that stands up to White Pony in the quality stakes. It is front-loaded with excellent tunes and the band sound refreshed and refocused (unfortunately, being that their bassist is in the opposite condition) and I can’t wait to see them rip these songs up live.
Buy the album here for only £8.99!
Rather than pick a collection of my favourite albums of the past 10 years I decided to pick 20 of the albums that had the biggest influence on my life. Being in my early 20’s now, the past decade was a formative expanse of time in my musical tastes, and I want my choices to reflect that.
So I’m gonna ignore all musical trends and albums other bloggers may feel forced to include as to escape ridicule (Merriweather Post Pavillion, I’m looking at you) and just shoot from the hip. Not all choices will be ‘cool’, or whatever the kids are saying these days. But so what? Fuck those posers who rewrite their musical history for the sake of trends.
So lets start at the beginning. I’m gonna go in a chronological release order. And the first entry in this category is the best Deftones album, released on 20th June 2000:
In the late 90’s/early 00’s I had shed the britpop and indie I had previously adored and replaced them with hip hop, metal, punk and grunge bands. But I didn’t just jump into Faith No More or Converge’s back catalogues instantly. I admit for around a year I was into some nu metal-esque bands like Incubus and Korn. But don’t hate me: I was educating myself. I then progressed to Rage Against The Machine and Tool and around that time this beauty was released. Because of my financial situation I did not manage to acquire it until Christmas of that year. And I proceeded to gorge on it for the entire morning. Every Christmas I try to give this album a spin. As un-seasonal as it is, it really soundtracks good feelings for me.
I hesitate to call any album a masterpiece, but this is definitely the one where all the pieces fell into place for Deftones, and they matured into one of modern metal’s big boys. I thankfully got the version that DIDN’T include the dreadful alternative opener Back To School (Mini Maggit), which was a nu-metal bastardisation of the epic White Pony closer Pink Maggit, and instead opened with the ferocious, sexually arresting Feiticeria. From then on, Deftones incorporate moody, expansive atmospherics and keys (Digital Bath, RX Queen),huge hooks (Change (In The House Of Flies), inspired guest spots (Maynard from Tool on Passenger, Rodleen Getsic on Knife Prty) and some classic Deftones aggression (Elite, Korea).
White Pony is easily the most critically acclaimed release from the Sacramento outfit and it was the album that provided the gateway for me to explore into more extreme musical territory. Without this album and Tool’s Lateralus I was able to get into Glassjaw and Thrice. If you want to explore further into metal and haven’t listened to White Pony, you really should do that. I just realised I posted about Deftones recently, so if you want mp3’s, hit those up and see what you think. Take a listen to my favourite WP track:
Much missed Sacramento band Deftones played a benefit show for injured bassist Chi Cheng at the Avalon in Hollywood on thursday night, and enlisted a kind of Avengers style team to battle the evils of rising medical bills for their poorly friend. Members of Metallica, System Of A Down, Cypress Hill, Children Of Bodom, Suicidal Tendencies, Incite, Incubus, Sugar Ray, the mighty Far and motherfunkin’ Tommy Lee all pitched in to play a range of covers and whatnot. There were many special moments:
Deftones + System perform Aerials (with Chino doing his best Serj impression):
Deftones + Far perform Savory (Jawbox Cover):
This happens to be may favourite. Deftones with Rodleen Getsick perform Knife Prty. I’m loving Getsick’s Katy Perry-goes-metal look and she really knocks her vocals out the park. She’s a better screamer than Chino these days:
Seeing a seemingly revitalised Deftones has reignited my love for the mercurial band. I’m gonna go stick Around The Fur on. You should too. Let me get you in the mood with some vintage ‘Tones.