Album Review by Mark Bayross
Although Deftones are usually lumped in with the (now dying) nu-metal explosion of Korn, Limp Bizkit et al, they have always had more about them than pure rap-metal grunt. Evolving from the early screamo hardcore of their debut, they stunned their audience with 2000’s incredible third album WHITE PONY, a Grammy-winning collection that spanned everything from trip-hop to pummelling aggro-metal, via acres of molten grunge.
Three years on, and we now have their eponymous follow-up to that exceptionally tough act, and if anything, it eschews the eclecticism of WHITE PONY in favour of the more straightforward melodic stadium rock of AROUND THE FUR. Lead single MINERVA may have the epic Pumpkinesque feel of CHANGE (IN THE HOUSE OF FLIES), but the stop-start album opener HEXAGRAM is a more accurate statement of intent.
While NEEDLES AND PINS and GOOD MORNING BEAUTIFUL are moshpit-friendly but surprisingly unspectacular early sonic blows, WHEN GIRLS TELEPHONE BOYS is a tour de force of frenzied guitars, Chino Moreno ditching his anguished croon for eye-popping screams like on the previous album’s spine-tingling ELITE.
Of course, there’s more about this Sacramento five-piece than that – if you just want to break stuff, buy a Limp Bizkit record. These boys know how to do dynamic, and with producer Terry Date on board again, they have a sound that cannot fail to make the hairs stand up. DEATHBLOW has an almost goth-rock feel to it, BATTLE-AXE has a soaring melody to die for, and BLOODY CAPE piles riff upon riff in such a way that Stephen Carpenter is bound to grin like a loon every time he plays it.
That just leaves the plain weird: LUCKY YOU has already been debuted on the MATRIX RELOADED soundtrack to some bafflement, but its subaquatic electronica fits in neatly here and gives a nod to where Chino’s head is at with his Team Sleep project; ANNIVERSARY OF AN UNINTERESTING EVENT is a funereal piano-led piece that should naturally close the album, but of course doesn’t. That honour falls to MOANA, which, although less immediate than MINI-MAGGIT, still delivers on the epic/melody/riff equation.
As with all of their previous albums, DEFTONES is on Madonna’s Maverick label – Madge evidently has taste. While it’s less of a head-turner than WHITE PONY, it’s still a whirlwind of drama, energy and life-affirming melancholy.