Open Mind Saturated Brain

Open Mind Saturated Brain

ZEGEMA BEACH RECORDS

Thursday, 4 August 2016

DEFTONES

BandDEFTONES
GenresRock / Nu-Metal / Alternative / Noise / Experimental
Related artistsPalms, Phallucy, Team Sleep, Saudade, Fonke Socialistiks, Absolution, Champions Of Sound, Moondog, Kush, Decibel Devils, Far, Quicksand, Sol Invicto and †††.
CountrySacramento, California USA
Years Active1988-present
Song: "Around the Fur"
Album: "Around the Fur"
Year: 1997
For fans ofGlassjaw, Korn, Aeges, Palms, Helmet, White Zombie, Rage Against The Machine, Soundgarden, Finch, (early) Sugar Ray, Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, Tool, Filter and Endor.
Label(s): Self Released / Maverick / Warner Bros. Records / Reprise Records / Sire / Tempstar Records / Никитин / WEA
This post's artist is from the June 2016 Mix. This is track #5.
You can download: the July Mix#7 right here or get the new August 2016 Mix#8 here.

If I were to read someone's post about DEFTONES with a glowing review I'd assume that person probably got into the band quite some time ago. I find it generally uncommon for someone entrenched in the diy underground to come up for air only to be more than content with a mainstream beast like the DEFTONES. But here we are, and as an avid alternative/metal fan in the early to mid 1990s I was aware of but somehow bypassed DEFTONES until I was in South Korea teaching and 'Diamond Eyes' was released. I'd always loved "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)" but never bought an album or even downloaded one. The 2010 LP 'Diamond Eyes' opened up my eyes (and ears, primarily) to the greatness that is the DEFTONES. Sure, they don't have a perfect track record, but no one really does. Plus, I consider them a very successful mainstream act, so for them to release anything even worth checking out deserves more than a leaping high five. I think for a heavy band with screaming to break into the mainstream nowadays, it would be very difficult to replicate the kind of exposure and fanfare that the DEFTONES experienced. Exclaim! did a fantastic chronological history of the band which if you want to know anything about the band and their evolution you need to read this. I'm just gonna talk about my favourite songs and my general opinion about each record.

We start waaaaaaay back in 1995 with 'Adrenaline'. Although there are a few songs listed here as more than decent, I like the band's later material more because a lot of this borders on sounding like their contemporaries Limp Bizkit and Korn. "Bored" was a popular radio track that has soaring vocals over the hellish and massive chugs the band is known for. "Minus Blindfold" sounds exactly what Glassjaw emulated during their early to mid career. The bass-heavy verses explode during the choruses and the song finds a unique balance between the soft and hard, as so many DEFTONES songs often do. "Nosebleed" has definite Korn undertones, especially with the instruments, but the snarls and barks aren't too far off either. That being said...I don't like Korn, but I like this. "7 Words" was the band's first hit and has a very memorable although dated chorus and an ending that sounds a lot like early Rage Against The Machine. "Engine No. 9" is an oldie but goody, as the band obviously began fleshing out their own sound with songs such as this.

My favourite DEFTONES album is 1997's 'Around the Fur'. This collection of excellent material boasts the sharpest and most jagged sound the band has ever created. "My Own Summer (Shove It)" lulls you in with foreboding bass and ghostly crooning that is barely audible as well as some evil guitars (although not all that heavy...yet) that detonates at 1:07 with dual screaming. This exemplifies exactly what I love most about DEFTONES. "Around the Fur" is my favourite DEFTONES song alongside the widely popular "Be Quiet and Drive (far away)". The track begins with heavy breathing and drums which are soon joined by the bass and heavily distorted guitars that melt into a frantic and screamy chorus. There is an overly long ambient interlude from 2:03 until right before the final climax, but considering how awesome the rest of the song is it's really not important. "Be Quiet and Drive (far away)" is a masterpiece. This sounds like nothing else before it and nothing to come after has even come close. The intro consists of extremely driving guitars that seem to be taking off like an airplane as they have some extra flair to them and I guess this song isn't all too far from sounding like the Foo Fighters "Everlong". The sung vocals are just lovely, gliding around like an angel. The first chorus (if you wanna call it that, as it's basically the intro with heavier vocals) hits at 2:48 with "I don't care where just far away." I love how these lyrics are delivered as Chino has to bite his tongue so as to not scream his frustration and anger out like a howling banshee, so the subtle screams and cacophonous noise are mesmerizing. "Lotion" is a classic DEFTONES song and easily one of my favourites. The crooning turns to really well sung vocals followed by snarling and screaming. "Headup" leads me to Helmet and Rage Against The Machine comparisons in a very complimentary manner, but the band takes the anger to the next level with those screamy dual vocals just past the one-minute mark and again at two. The "Bonus Track" is 4:39 of extended awesomeness, as it rivals some of the better songs on the record with almost poltergeist-esque whispers between bouts of screaming.

2000's 'White Pony' seems to be the fan favourite, at least according to people I've spoken with, and I never quite get it. There are a few songs I like but compared to 'Around the Fur' this ultimately falls short, in my...ears. Nonetheless, the good tracks are excellent. "Korea" is heavy as fuck come the one-minute mark, as the chorus of this song is the cumulative efforts of the preceding verses and the ending is perhaps the heaviest thing the band has ever done. "Passenger" is over six minutes of DEFTONES meets Tool, not just because it kinda sounds like Tool, but because Maynard James Keenan adds his very distinguishable vocals to a song that sounds like it was written to be released on a Tool album. "Change (In the House of Flies)" was the huge hit that got DEFTONES international acclaim and attention. Ehhhhh...it's pretty good. There are way better songs but I can't argue that this is very unique and engaging that seemed to mark the turn of the century and a new generation of nu-metal. Around this time the single by the same name called "Back to School (Mini-Maggot)" was released and sounds like it could be a Limp Bizkit song, save a lot better, and knowing it's not Fred Durst helps. This song does not appear on 'White Pony' and instead was pressured into existence by record execs...who apparently knew what they were doing here, because this corporately planned single became very popular.

By 2003 I found myself beginning to get tired of the DEFTONES sound, although mind you it was 2011 by this point and I was going through the band's discography chronologically. Their 2003 effort really made that feeling sink in with a decent record, but the band had obviously evolved and were procreating that new breed of sound. "Needles and Pins" busts out the band's newly formed sound of subdued instrumentals and melodies driven almost solely by Chino Moreno. This particular track injects some of the older, heavier bits (especially near the end) but this is generally what I consider the new DEFTONES sound with that very distinct style that opens the song, which continues on "Minerva". This song was played heavily on the radio and was considered quite the hit back in the day. The prodigious instrumentals are heavy without being chuggy or metal in any way, and instead rely on being perfectly layered and sounding completely natural. The chorus has one of the catchiest vocal melodies and shows Chino at his most confident, at the time.

I feel like 2006's 'Saturday Night Wrists' gets a bad wrap. Although not the most cohesive effort, it houses some of the DEFTONES' best songs and shows them experimenting outside of the box in both the spacey and heavy department. "Hole in the Earth" is an epic opening track that shows the band couldn't stray too far from their original, massive and heavy selves. "Cherry Waves" begins like "Change (In the House of Flies)" part 2, but moves into eerier territory and then that chorus kicks in and the vocals get extremely poppy, but goddamn that shit is definitely catchy and well executed. "Rats!rats!rats!" is a bit of an anomaly from the band as it's probably the dirtiest and heaviest song they've ever written. The verses are all screamed and the chorus sung which is the opposite of the band's historical formula. This song is great and is probably the closest thing to showing where the band was headed with their next LP. "Kimdracula" is an excellent mix between the band's new and older material, injecting both heavy and serene parts simultaneously and is another good example of where the band was headed with 'Diamond Eyes'.

'Diamond Eyes' is the song and album that first got me into DEFTONES. The opening, title track's soaring vocals mixed with deathly low palm muted breakdowns are a beautiful concoction, with zero aggressive screams needed. "CMND/CTRL" breaks into some really ambient parts on guitar but maintains a pretty aggressive tone throughout with maniacal vocals that don't quite make it to full on screeching but come close during the verses. "Prince" also has a haunting and uncomfortable feel to it, much like "Change (In the House of Flies)". At 1:30 the song takes a dip in the downward spiral of Nine Inch Nails with some industrial sludge/noise and the end of the track includes some awesome screaming on Chino's part. "Rocket Skates" is an excellent jam with a searing chorus of, "blood, razors, kniiiiiiiiiives!" and even warranted a music video (linked below). The band's 2006 and 2010 efforts could be slotted as my second and third favourite albums by DEFTONES (with 'Around the Fur' being number one) as both have an angry, experimental and nostalgic aura to them that ended up becoming a killer sound, and the last of interest for this particular fan.

My fandom really began to wane when DEFTONES released 'Koi No Yokan' in 2012, as I expected it to crack my top 20 but instead it was in my top 5 letdowns of the year. That's not to say it's a poor effort or the songs are bad, it's just that the sound and direction they fostered here and afterwards doesn't really jive with me. "Leathers" is a great song, and yeah it's one of the heaviest songs on an album I don't care for, but it's not just the heavy parts that kick ass, the melodic structure of the song and those vocals, goddamn, those vocals are phenomenal. "Tempest" is 6:06 of big, spacey and driving alternative rock that is interesting for the album but not overly interesting as a DEFTONES song.

2016 had the new 'Gore' LP drop. It's not necessarily what I expected, which is a good thing, but the 80s space pop and post nu-metal offspring is a peculiar creation. It's actually quite good, but there's something about an album with Chino on it and no screaming that seems like a world class painter working as a plumber. There are also moments of cheese, but that's a very subjective opinion. Let's begin with "Acid Hologram" which is a trippy, spacey, Hum sounding, post-everything song. It's pretty decent and has dreamy, slow, drawn out vocals by Chino and a nearly indecipherable, disintegrating ending. "Hearts/Wires" is probably my favourite song on the new album, cruising through the opening 2:15 in mega chill mode before hitting a sweet and sticky chorus embedded with tiny shards of violence that glimmer during Chino's soothing yet thorny crooning. This occasionally borders on him losing his shit and going full-tilt ballistic, but he never does. "Phantom Bride" sounds 80s inspired to me, most notably from The Cure, and steers it towards alternative rock. The chorus is catchy as hell but it borders on sounding kinda cheesy. The song also features Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains fame.

There are also some random songs to take note of:

*The collaborative song with Cypress Hill called "Black Moon" is pretty catchy and appeals to me, a person who doesn't listen to a lot of rap and hip hop. Besides eerie bass and haunting chants, Chino can be heard screaming wildly in the background.

*"Change (In the House of Flies acoustic)" is a pretty cool rendition with full instruments, just no electric guitars. Is it better than the original? No, but it's worth a listen.

*"Sinatra" is from the 'Minerva' EP and is a funky and trippy space jam seen through a foggy and cracked telescope. Can I quickly mention that I hate cd singles that don't include b-sides and rarities? What? I just did? Oh yeah. Sweet.

*"Drive" is a Police cover that sounds quite a bit like the original but puts a slight...errr, subtle, DEFTONES touch on it.

Alrighty, that's it. I don't want to type anymore and I've said all I need to say. I like DEFTONES. Some stuff is killer. Some stuff is not. Case closed.

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DISCOGRAPHY

1995 - Adrenaline cd/cassette/12"LP
1995 - 7 Words cd/7"EP

1997 - Around the Fur cd/cassette/12"LP

2000 - White Pony cd/cassette/2x12"LP
2000 - Change [In the House of Flies] cdEP
2000 - Back to School (Mini Maggot) cd single
2000 - Untitled cd/cdrom single

2003 - Deftones cd/cassette/12"LP
2003 - Hexagram cd/7"EP
2003 - Minerva cd/7" single
2003 - Poison The Well split cdEP

2006 - Saturday Night Wrist cd/2x12"LP
2006 - Hole in the Earth cd single
2006 - Mein cd single

2007 - Mastadon split cd/cdrom single

2009 - Rocket Skates cd/7" single

2010 - Diamond Eyes cd/12"LP

2012 - Koi No Yokan cd/12"LP

2013 - Live: Volume 1 - Selections from Adrenaline 12"EP

2016 - Gore cd/2x12"LP
2016 - Crenshaw cd single

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(1995) DEFTONES - "Bored" (from 'Adrenaline') official music video

(1997) DEFTONES - "Around the Fur" (from 'Around the Fur')

(1997) DEFTONES - "My Own Summer (Shove It)" (from 'Around the Fur') official music video

(1997) DEFTONES - "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)" (from 'Around the Fur') official music video

(2000) DEFTONES - "Change (In the House of Flies" (from 'White Pony') official music video

(2000) DEFTONES - "Back to School (Mini Maggot)" (from 'Back to School (Min Maggot)')

(2003) DEFTONES - "Minerva" (from 'Deftones') official music video

(2003) DEFTONES - "Sinatra" (from 'Minerva')

(2006) DEFTONES - "Hole in the Earth" (from 'Saturday Night Wrists') official music video

(2010) DEFTONES - "Diamond Eyes" (from 'Diamond Eyes') official music video

(2010) DEFTONES - "Rocket Skates" (from 'Diamond Eyes')

(2013) DEFTONES - "Leathers" (from 'Koi No Yokan')

(2016) DEFTONES - "Hearts/Wires" (from 'Gore')

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DEFTONES additional links

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2 comments:

  1. I don't think I've ever read an article that had the word "DEFTONES" written and taken it seriously before. Still, I'll probably still pass on exploring this band out of basic principle...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deftones innovated some skramz in 95 bruh, smoke on this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FR7aM7H465E

      Delete