Deftones do not have a weak album in their catalogue. Let’s rank ’em.
It has been twenty five years since Sacramento alternative metal quintet Deftones arrived on the scene with their raw and explosive debut album Adrenaline. Along the way they have gone from being maligned as integral players in the nu metal movement to critical darlings who meld alternative metal and shoegaze. This change in critical opinion is partly due to the fact that they have never released a poor album. This makes the task of ranking them virtually impossible. But, we tried…
The group’s debut album is an excellent blueprint for what the group would become. In fact, with tracks like ‘7 Words’, ‘Bored, and ‘Engine No.9’ it is significantly stronger than what many of their peers achieved in their entire careers. It also helped establish a look and sound that has been both plagiarised and parodied to death. However, compared to the width, breadth and depth of what Deftones would achieve on subsequent albums, this one is simply too thin both in terms of songwriting and production. Still though, lots of fun.
Something went slightly wrong on Deftones eighth album Gore. For me, the songwriting is a little inconsistent and the production is a bit muddy. Chino Moreno as good as admitted that something was amiss with this record when he stated that the next record needs more input from guitarist Stef Carpenter. As usual, there are the strong singles that Deftones are renowned for in ‘Prayers/Triangles’ and ‘Heart/Wires’. Plus, ‘Doomed User’ is an absolute banger. These are undoubtedly powerful. But, elsewhere the new ideas don’t always quite work. ‘Pittura Infamante’ just doesn’t quite hang together and Jerry Cantrell’s guest appearance on ‘Phantom Bride’ seems a bit misjudged. He’s an excellent guitarist but not quite a fit for Deftones. Having said that, it is encouraging to see them continue to push the boundaries of their sound.
6Around the Fur
Okay, we are going to catch some heat for this choice but hear me out. Around the Fur is a great record and a giant leap on from Adrenaline. It has singles that have become iconic in the form of ‘My Own Summer’ and ‘Be Quiet and Drive’. It is Chino’s favourite Deftones album. However, when you stack the album tracks on this record up against the ones on the albums above Around the Fur on this list, they don’t quite match them in terms of songwriting quality. Except for maybe the title track itself ‘Around the Fur’. What a drum intro.
5Koi No Yokan
Typically, Koi No Yokan catches flak for being a bit of a retread of Diamond Eyes. Maybe that is a somewhat fair assessment. Like Diamond Eyes, Koi No Yokan is a pretty much back to basics blast of alternative metal glory. However, the songwriting here is nearly as strong as the preceding album and so it can only be deemed a resounding success. From the singles ‘Leathers’, ‘Tempest’ and ‘Swerve City’ to album tracks like ‘Rosemary’, ‘Poltergeist’ and ‘Entombed’ there is barely a misstep on the record from start to finish. This is a band firing on all cylinders.
4Saturday Night Wrist
Here’s another record that catches a lot of flak from fans. For me, it is probably their point of greatest success in terms of combining their alternative metal heft with shoegaze dreaminess. ‘Hole in the Earth’ is an excellent lead single while ‘Rapture’ is heavy as all hell, ‘Beware’ is as foreboding as the title and ‘Cherry Waves’ is as pretty as it gets. Come to think of it, they really should have released ‘Cherry Waves’ as a single.
Once again, an album that catches grief from the fans. But we reckon that is because it came directly after White Pony. As that album is one of the most consistently spellbinding metal albums of the last 30 years, Deftones self titled 2003 effort was always going to struggle in its shadow. But go back to it now and it is chock full of absolute classics. Lead single ‘Minerva’ is perhaps the finest song Deftones ever put to tape. ‘Hexagram’ is frantic, heavy and creative. ‘Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event’ is the most intimate that Deftones have ever been. From start to finish it is rousing, elegant, arresting and heavy.
When this was released it was astounding. It was ten years since White Pony. Bassist Chi Cheng was in a coma after an ultimately fatal car crash in 2008. Deftones’ previous album Saturday Night Wrist had been an absolute chore for the band to make. Surely they were done? Not quite. With renewed gratitude and impetuous after Cheng’s tragedy, the band buried many hatchets, enlisted Quicksand’s Sergio Vega on bass, and set about crafting a streamlined and direct album. The results are astounding. Simply put, Deftones crafted an album with the directness and youthful energy of Around the Fur combined with the experienced songwriting chops of a band twenty years on the road. Side A is flawless, Side B isn’t half bad either.