It’s been over twenty years since the release of their debut album Adrenaline, and Deftones have evolved with each passing year.
Their third album, the critically-acclaimed White Pony – which incorporated myriad styles including shoegaze and trip hop into their already eclectic mix – turned 16 this year.
It got us thinking, which were the highlights during those first five years? Their 1997 single My Own Summer (Shove It) and 1998’s Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away) are a given. Too easy to throw into the list. What about the deeper cuts from their archives?
Here, then, are the best 10 tracks from those five prolific years…
ROOT (Adrenaline, 1995)
With a subtle use of loud-quiet dynamics, the band’s template was firmly established on their 1995 debut. During their formative years, the quartet – as they were until Frank Delgado joined two years later – would open their set with this song. Root comes sneaking out of the speakers with a spidery, Maiden-esque Stephen Carpenter riff before his bandmates join him with a thunderous sonic boom.
ENGINE No.9 (Adrenaline, 1995)
Tucked away towards the end of their furious debut, this is its biggest primal roar. Packed with bounce, a speed metal riff and late bassist Chi Cheng screaming wildly over Moreno’s half-rapped, half-yelled vocals, Engine No.9 remains a thrilling highlight two decades later.
TEETHING (The Crow: City Of Angels OST, 1996)
The sequel to The Crow should be avoided at all costs, but its one redeeming feature is a scene where Deftones’ haunting, hard-hitting rap-metal tune can be heard. Fast forward to that bit – or better still, simply download the track – and watch the 1994 original instead.
AROUND THE FUR (Around The Fur, 1997)
The title track of their 1997 album opens with Abe Cunningham’s instantly recognisable drum pattern and Moreno’s percussive breathing. As Carpenter layers chugging riffs alongside Chino’s gentle vocals, it gradually expands into a savage chorus. It was clear on this album that the band were beginning to take creative risks with musical dynamism – and winning.
HEADUP (Around The Fur, 1997)
When Deftones retreated to Seattle to work with producer Terry Date on their second studio album, Max Cavalera was one of the biggest stars in metal. Headup was written as a tribute to his late stepson – and Chino’s friend – Dana Wells who died a year earlier. Crackling with raw emotion, Cavalera can be heard trading screams with Moreno on the chorus’ portmanteau ‘soulfly’. Yes, this is where his post-Sepultura band name came from.
DAMONE (Around The Fur, 1997)
To give some context as to just how creatively on form Deftones were during Around The Fur, they hid what could potentially be the album’s best song half an hour after the end of closing track MX. Damone drives along before unleashing one of the biggest choruses they’ve ever written.
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PASSENGER (White Pony, 2000)
By the time White Pony was released Deftones were one of the biggest bands in metal. Its arrival left the nu-metal also rans choking on their dust. Their collaboration with Tool’s Maynard James Keenan arrived amid much hype yet delivered in spades.
FEITICEIRA (White Pony, 2000)
And now a song about being held captive. The opening track of their third studio album begins with the sort of angular, hook-filled riff that Steph Carter can seemingly conjure up at will. But does Chino – whose breathy, unnerving lyrics detail a fictional kidnapping – want to be saved? We’re not so sure.
DIGITAL BATH (White Pony, 2000)
By the time the millennium rolled around, Deftones had truly evolved into a unique presence in metal. The evidence can be found on this woozy and ethereal single, which is about electrocuting someone in a tub. With each member of the band bringing their own, disparate influences to the table, it’s a song which has just as much in common with Radiohead as it does Pantera.
SAVORY (B-Sides & Rarities, 2005)
Deftones have always delighted in collaborating with their friends and covering the songs that influenced them. This cover of Jawbox’s jangling post hardcore classic (from their 1994 album For Your Own Special Sweetheart) was given a fresher, heavier crunch by the band and their fellow Sacramento buddies Far on the latter’s 1997 EP Soon. It was re-released eight years later on the Deftones’ B-Sides & Rarities collection.