I really hate the term "nü-metal." About 90% of the time, bands lumped into the genre are totally ridiculous and have nothing to offer in terms of originality. The whole "wreck shit" attitude that comes along with most nü-metal acts isn't too appealing, to say the least, and most of these bands don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to lyrical prose, even if their guitar styles do sound the same.
Deftones are in a genre all their own. While they have toured with acts such as Korn, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park, these guys have a sound unlike any other. Ever since I heard their second album Around the Fur, I knew Deftones were a good band, but it took their 2000 followup, White Pony, to solidify them (for me at least) as one of the greatest alternative metal bands I've ever heard.
Frontman Chino Moreno has a creepy yet lulling voice that puts the listener into an almost trance-like state in some of the songs found on here. The man pretty much personifies a stalker, but it works amazingly well, especially on White Pony. The album kicks off with "Back to School (Mini Maggot)," a teen anthem where Moreno voices his displeasure with current cliques and the arbitrary rules of a failing system.
The rapping on the opening track is accompanied by sinister, heavy guitars with thick bass but it doesn't relent long enough for the listener to get used to any silences found here. The song thrashes along with "Transpose, or stop your life, it's what you do." It's a heavy enough opener to keep the listener's attention and it's one of my favorites on this one.
Next is the creeping "RX Queen," which begins with nothing but Abe Cunningham's drumming before Chi Cheng comes in with an ominous bassline that sets the mood for the whole song. "Queen" starts off with the lyrics "I won't stop following you," and leads the listener into an odd, obsessive type of love ballad. The chorus here sounds great, and as Moreno yowls "You're my girl, and that's all right, if you sting me, I won't mind," the listener is treated to a somber yet effective tune.
This whole album has a phantasmal aura surrounding it. The various arrangements here are haunting but still draw in an audience of loners who never got past the girl, or whatever personal demons that plagued them in the past. As for the lyrics, they're very obscure and can be interpreted in many different ways. I have to say, I'm still quite impressed with this album and I still can't stop listening to songs like "Knife Prty," "Digital Bath" and, of course, "Change (In the House of Flies)."
These standout tracks really brought this band more attention, but I'm still not sure if that was for the best, as I wasn't the biggest fan of their 2003 self-titled CD. These guys are still quite talented, though they really stood out on this, their third album.
"Knife Prty" details a strange underworld of unusual fantasies. An overall upbeat song, "Prty" starts off with a muffled guitar riff before Carpenter's thunderous melody chimes in. At one point in the song, you start to hear what seems to be an opera singer hitting her highest note, warbling uncontrollably accompanied with a single guitar note, a very cool effect to say the least. Gotta love the lyrics "I could float here forever," since this one in particuliar gives the illusion of being weightless. Abe Cunningham is a great drummer, and his use of ghost notes are quite apparent here and throughout most of White Pony.
"Digital Bath" is an eerily quiet tune that reels the listener in before the guitars hit home in the chorus. Once again, Moreno's macabre lyrics come into play: "You make the water warm, you taste foreign, and I know you can see the cord break away." A gruesome picture is painted here, but it's done with enough finesse to drown out any real certainty.
Now we come to "Change (In the House of Flies)." This particular tune's subject has been debated, since the lyrics are quite ambiguous. I remember seeing this video played constantly in late 2000 on MTV2's Control Freak back when they played decent music (At the Drive-In's "One Armed Scissor" regularly making the rounds as well). I think the harmonies are one of the things that make this song great but pretty much everything on this particular track is solid. This one starts off with an unsettling background fade-in that resonates throughout the song, putting the listener into an almost paranoid state. Hearing the lyrics, "I took you home, set you on the glass, pulled off your wings, and I laughed" still kind of freaks me out, since they're whispered eerily rather than sung all the way.
I'd be crazy not to mention the last track on here, "Pink Maggit." While the chorus on this one is the same as the opening track, "Back to School (Mini Maggit)," the soft vocals accompanied by Stephen Carpenter's single, echoing guitar are pulled off perfectly. The first two minutes and 43 seconds are freakishly dismal, but it seems that's just what they wanted to accomplish here.
Chino's vocals are full of anguish and despair, as if they're his last words uttered to whoever will listen. The sudden change of pace in the chorus caught me off guard at first, but fades to the same tune sung in the beginning, and ends with what sounds like a heart beating--a nice touch.
This album is amazing and I consider it to be Deftones' most experimental and overall best work. It has odd lyrical content dealing with murder, drugs and remorse, while maintaining strong musicianship that goes along brilliantly with each track.
Honorable-mention tracks on here are "Passenger," with guest vocals by Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, "Teenager" and "Elite," a thrashing number reminiscient of the songs found on Around the Fur. Great album by an often overlooked band; check it out.