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Deftones - White Pony Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 October 2000

White Pony
format: CD
label: Maverick Records
release year: 2000
performance: 8.5
sound 7
reviewed by: Bryan Dailey

ImageI had mixed feelings after my first few listens to the Deftones’ new album ‘White Pony.’ I’m a Deftones fan and have been following them since they first started as a garage band in my hometown of Sacramento, CA, way back in the early ‘90s. I always knew that if any band from Sacto was going to make it, it would be Deftones. Taking much inspiration from Bad Brains, they were one of the first acts to fuse hardcore music and rap. Soon thereafter, the Deftones were branded with the "rap metal" label. Yes, singer Chino Moreno can flow with the best of them and he did just that on their first album ‘Adrenaline,’ but with their next album, ‘Around the Fur,’ and now with ‘White Pony,’ it is clear that Chino and the Deftones have moved on to new sonic territory.

‘White Pony’ is an album that is as jarring and brutal as it is soft and sensitive, and that can be a bit unnerving. The Deftones have always made music that has drastic changes in dynamics, which are taken to new extremes on this album. Much more atmospheric and experimental than their previous releases, ‘White Pony’ is one of those rare records that gets better the more you listen to it. When I hear an album and immediately enjoy it on all levels, I ultimately become bored with it and it finds its way to the bottom of my CD pile. ‘White Pony’ did not knock me off my feet at first, but after subsequent spins in my home and car CD player, I began to understand the Deftones’ new sound and direction. I now feel that this is by far the best album they have released.

The song "Elite" features a relentless guitar riff and the sickest guttural screaming vocals I’ve ever heard on an album. Then the album shifts gears to the spacey laid-back trip-hop sounds of the song "Teenager," which is the softest and most melodic song that Deftones have ever recorded. I hate to try to define the sound of a band that I feel is truly unique, but to get an idea of what the Deftones sound like, think Smashing Pumpkins (before their superstardom) with some Jane’s Addiction, PJ Harvey and Weezer thrown in there.

I don’t hear a song on ‘White Pony’ that will launch the Deftones into superstar status yet, but I doubt that was ever the band’s goal on this album. They never sugarcoat the music to spoon-feed it to their listeners. I applaud their record company, Maverick Records, for obviously leaving most, if not all, of the creative control in the hands of the band and their producer Terry Date (Soundgarden, White Zombie, Pantera).

CDs have had "bonus" enhanced material for quite a while, but ‘White Pony’ is one of the first CDs with enhanced material that truly adds value to the album. There are photos of the band, a video clip of them practicing for their upcoming tour, lyrics, a link to a hidden Deftones website and, last but not least, a hilarious yet simple version of Pac-Man where you must navigate a little white pony through mazes and not get eaten by the Deftones. As MP3s gain in popularity, it is these extras that will keep people going to the record store or buying albums online. ‘White Pony’ is one that I think you should consider.

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