[a]Deftones[/a] started off as just another promising rap metal act that came from the skateparks and rock clubs of California. A band that grew up on Iron Maiden, [a]Metallica[/a] and Faith No More but listened to the sensitivity-enhancing, girlfriend-securing sounds of The Cure and The Smiths.
After the release of two albums, it soon became clear to see that [a]Deftones[/a] were more than just another bunch of no-brainer rap-rock chancers and buried within their machine-like riffing and cheeseball rapping lay songs of greater depth and, ultimately, mass appeal.
Frontman Chino Moreno was always the sensitive man’s metal god. He lists as influences Robert Smith and Morrissey and, like Korn‘s Jonathan Davis, always gives tear-stained interviews of mental fragility and self-doubt. His favourite band is Radiohead.
What’s more, Chino and his band have a finely tuned ear for writing cracking tunes. If Marilyn Manson had half their feel for writing affecting songs for the masses, he’d be President of the USA by now.
With this record, [a]Deftones[/a] are staking a claim to become [I]the[/I] big genre-unifying American rock band who everyone will acknowledge as the kings – like them or not.
Generally regarded as the biggest American rock album to be released this year, anticipation for ‘White Pony’ has reached fever pitch – the Internet has been awash with leaked studio tapes and rumours of this album for months now. The steady stream of Chinese-whispered hype has been nothing if not ominous.
But if [a]Deftones[/a] are going to be massive, then it’s a good job they’ve made a great album – the likes of which Billy Corgan always promised but never delivered.
Like the Pumpkins at their best, songs like ‘Pink Maggot or ‘RX Queen’ are a blend of sinister modern heavy rock and cheeseball MOR genius that makes for multi-platinum-selling college rock. No matter how gothic and ridiculous the verse,”I’ll steal a carcass for you/And feed off the virus”, sounds, the chorus’ euphoric burst of, “You’re my girl and that’s alright”, brings to mind Foreigner, Cheap Trick or Boston. Like Faith No More did in their ‘Angel Dust’ phase, [a]Deftones[/a] have blended dark, creepy, metal atmospherics with drivin’-down-the-highway, AOR rock cheese to amazing effect. Out of the best nu-metal riffs and nu-goth atmospherics, they make radio-friendly pop singles.
Soon-to-be-single ‘Change (House Of Flies)’ is another example of [a]Deftones[/a]’ massive potential. It shows how they understand the stadium-enhancing effect of huge, sweeping choruses like: “I’ve watched a change in you/It’s like you’ll never have wings/How you feel so alive”. Like U2 or Oasis, those other masters of stadium rock, [a]Deftones[/a] can sing about any old bollocks and make it sound like Moses reciting the Ten Commandments.
The Meat Loaf meets Marilyn Manson ballad, ‘Passenger’, is a duet between Chino and Tool‘s Maynard James Keenan and highlights everything that’s great and everything that’s, if you like, pony on this album.
Massive in pretension, slightly too long and gothic, but when all the pieces fit, you can’t deny its unstoppable power. And it sounds like Foreigner.