Deftones – ‘Black Stallion’ review: a gnarly remix record that breathes new life into ‘White Pony’

The art-metallers recruit Robert Smith, DJ Shadow and Mike Shinoda to reimagine their magnum opus. This is the twisted inner monologue of a masterpiece

A little bit of confidence goes a long, long way. Speaking to NME earlier this year, art-metal icons Deftones explained that they’d been so sure of their seminal third album, 2000’s game-changing ‘White Pony’, that they firmly believed US trip-hop visionary DJ Shadow would one day remix it for a sister album called ‘Black Stallion’. This was before they’d even written or recorded any of it. One night, while DJing with him in 1999, they over-excitedly propositioned him. Nothing came of it.

READ MORE: “This record embedded in our brains” – The endless power of Deftones’ ‘White Pony’

Well, it turned out they backed the right horse: ‘White Pony’ was every bit as damn good as the band had predicted. Bombastic, experimental and emotionally sophisticated, the album not only set them apart from a lot of the red-capped nu-metal tools of the time, but came to be widely considered as one of the best albums of the 21st Century. This year, Deftones preceded their cracking new album ‘Ohms’ by celebrating the Pony’s 20th anniversary, also announcing that ‘Black Stallion’ had finally been made. But it wasn’t just DJ Shadow on board; they’d roped in a whole bunch of other famous friends, too.

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While DJ Shadow’s approach to ‘Digital Bath’ peels away the track’s layers to expose Deftones’ more simmering and ambient elements, the other guests make ‘Black Stallion’ one hell of a ride. Linkin Park‘s Mike Shinoda adds his electro-rock Midas touch to the already epic ‘Passenger’ (which also features Tool’s Maynard James Keenan), while not losing any of the drama and pomp of the original. The Cure’s Robert Smith’s inky-black fingerprints are all over his gothic and hazy take on ‘Teenager’, and electro-industrialist Blanck Mass turns ‘Elite’ into a videogame boss-level nightmare.

There’s a lot of ground covered here. You’ll want to either sit down or take off for producer Salva’s brutal, malfunctioning trap beat spin on ‘RX Queen’, or electronica duo Phantogram‘s dark dream-pop take on ‘Street Carp’. After all these years, the songs still stand up, even in a different dimension. ‘Black Stallion’ can either be listened to as the twisted inner monologue of a masterpiece, or a standalone rattling gun of gnarly and weird electronica.

Release date: December 11

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Release label: Reprise Records

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