Thrash Hits

November 4th, 2009

Bands of the Decade: Deftones

deftones white pony band promo photo thrash hits

Peak: 2000/2001
Era: White Pony

What have Deftones done in the 2000s?

After consolidating their position as the thinking man’s alternative metal band with the chugging nu-metal of Adrenaline (1995) and the restrained, groovy vitriol of Around The Fur (1997) on Madonna’s Maverick label, they released their third album, White Pony in 2000. Chino Moreno was also working on Team Sleep at that time, lending to a definite shoegaze metal sound. This new sound meant that White Pony grabbed everyone’s attention and it went platinum in two years and even garnered a Grammy award for Best Metal Performance.

2003’s self-titled effort took a lot of time and money to produce and while the result wasn’t as well-received or as good as White Pony, it was the heaviest slab of Deftones yet, finally helping them to break away from the nu-metal pigeonhole they had been stuck in this far. Saturday Night Wrist was released in 2006 and is considered their most mature and considered record to date. Adrenaline finally went platinum in 13 years after its release in 2008.

deftones white pony album 2000 cover artwork thrash hits
Why are Deftones one of the most important rock acts of the past decade?

While nu-metal was at its peak around the turn of the century, Deftones stepped up and pricked everyone’s ears with a thoughtful, unapologetically experimental metal album. Blending their trademark crunching metal sound with atmospherics, punk, industrial themes and textured anthems with Chino Moreno’s miserably heartfelt tales of personal pain, it was a blend that struck chords with the rock masses.

While Adrenaline was a thunderous early slice of nu-metal that completely fitted into the emerging genre of the time, every album thereafter helped Deftones rise above as the cream of the crop. There’s no doubting that metal needed a new take on it but while the other popular nu-metal acts of Limp Bizkit, Staind and Linkin Park were seen as puerile, dull or derivative respectively, Deftones were the intelligent choice for the alternative metaller. It’s why Tool’s Maynard James Keenan was more than happy to collaborate on ‘Passenger’. Deftones were – and still are – as inspirational as they were inspired.

Watch the video to Change (In The House Of Flies) by Deftones

Charlie Simpson from Fightstar says the following about one his favourite bands:

My first Deftones experience was hearing the riff to ‘Root’ and thinking it was one of the best riffs I had ever heard! That was also the first Deftones riff I learned to play on guitar. That led me on to hearing Adrenaline for the first time, which simply blew my mind. I think the way in which Deftones incorporate very ambient and melodic sounds, alongside very aggressive riffs and vocals was a huge influence on the way I began to write music. I loved the fact that they would have a really heavy verse section that would then break out into a really beautiful chorus, or vise versa. It’s just too hard to pick one, but my favourite song would have to be between these three – ‘Change (In A House Of Flies)’, ‘Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)’ or ‘Around The Fur’.

What is the legacy of Deftones and White Pony?

Their peak was getting that album into #13 on the UK Albums Chart upon release and then headlining the now defunct London Docklands Arena with Linkin Park and Taproot in support the following March. While this tour was pinpointed as the time when Linkin Park really began their ascent to being the biggest selling artist of this decade, this tour really was all about Deftones. There were already White Pony tattoos in the crowd then – not even a year after its release. Everyone realised what a special and classic album that was immediately.

We all know what happened to nu-metal after that – it got more and more ridiculous but even Linkin Park moved away from the laughable rapper-screamer formula eventually. If you’re wondering what Deftones have contributed to modern music, you need only look at any young alt metal band’s influences on their MySpace page. Among all the others, they’ll say Tool and Deftones because while Tool broke the back with a whole new type of alternative metal in the early ’90s, it was Deftones who managed to separate themselves from the rest of a similar pack a decade later. That kind of tenacity is admired worldwide.

What is next for Deftones?

Deftones are set to release their sixth studio album, Eros in 2010. After their great pre-Reading Festival London show it finally seems a real possibility that’s been worth waiting for.


Check out the rest of our End of the Decade coverage.

Were you there when Linkin Park made most of an arena sing ‘One Step Closer’? Have you ever worried about Chino’s belly? Did Around The Fur make you lose your shit? Tell us your earliest and your favourite Deftones memories below.



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