deftones

Showing 41 posts tagged deftones

Track

Sleep Walk

Artist

Deftones

Album

Minerva

And so our time has come and gone.

First off, I would like to thank Hendrik for giving me the chance to contribute to One Week // One Band. I have been a fan of this blog for a year now, and it’s been truly an honor to contribute amongst such dedicated writers and music fans and I can only hope that my own work goes on to add to this site’s value. Furthermore, Hendrik’s advice and tireless editing was appreciated beyond belief.

I also want to give thanks to this site’s fans and followers, and fans of the band on tumblr who enjoyed my writing. As a fan of the band and still relatively recent contributor to music writing, it is of course a pleasure to discover what I wrote struck a chord with so many. Likewise, I would also like to express gratitude to anybody (including Mr. Brannon) who found error in my work and helped me in striving to improve myself as a writer and gave me further insight into the music connected to this band.

Further thanks goes to all my friends at glassjaw.net (who’ve had to suffer my idiot ramblings about SNW for what, three or four years now?), who were able to provide me with various deftones-related treasures over the years, in addition to the dedicated deftones fan communities at deftonesworld.com and sharinglungs.com. Without their love for this band, I’d probably have done an abysmal job.

Also, I’d like to thank all of the various journalists/bloggers/writers on the internet who’ve continued to inspire me over the years (some of you know who you are a little better than others). Even with my inadequacies as a writer, I continue with the hopes of one day counting my work among them.

I want to thank Alex Jerez, who’s declaration that Around The Fur was the ‘greatest summer album ever’ was quite on the mark. And I’d also like to thank A_______, whose breaking my heart in high-school turned this band from any ordinary rock band into a group that would help define my ascent into adulthood. To Christopher Edwards, who also understood the magnitude of a song like “Kimdracula” while grimacing at those truly sad Weezer covers, and to Tahira Sohan, who tolerated my mix CDs and even more shoddy renditions of “Be Quiet And Drive” with grace and dignity.

That leaves just about a few more people doesn’t it?

With as much emphasis as words can allow, thanks must be given to Stephen Carpenter, Chi Cheng, Abe Cunningham, Frank Delgado, Chino Moreno, Sergio Vega & the rest of the cast and crew of this band’s amazing musical journey. I speak for many a fan when I say the music they made has inspired and captivated us for years and will hopefully never cease to do so.

This is Maxwell Cavaseno, deftones fan for almost 1/3 of my life, signing off to the sounds of my favorite band and their cover of the classic “Sleepwalker” by Santo & Johnny. May this band linger in your dreams and imagination as it has in mine.

Thank you.

— Maxwell Cavaseno

Diamond Eyes, the official follow-up to Saturday Night Wrist, was recorded by the band in two months with producer Nick Raskulinecz. The record was critically acclaimed as one of the band’s best albums, with some even offering that it was superior to their “magnum opus” White Pony. The band saw first week sales of up to 62,000 copies in the US alone; still a slighter in amount than the prior album, but considering the changed environment in regards to illegal downloads (the band pushed the release date forward after the album  had leaked) not a poor amount whatsoever.

And yet, I cannot help but maintain that this record could very well be the worst in their catalog.

It’s not that these songs are poorly written. The self-titled single, shown above, shows Moreno’s voice at it’s most capable and solid. The band itself is leaner and tighter than ever before, the melodies catchy and identifiable. Though the lyrics took on a more dreamy and abstract quality, in many ways, not that much had changed. Yet for a band that was so comfortable with itself at one point, there was also a firm sense of desperation. Not the emotional desperation of Saturday Night Wrist, where the band seemed to be fighting for it’s life… Instead, the band seemed to be fighting for validity. Anthony Wilson once said that Joy Division were the greatest band in the world, because when they performed, you understood that this was what they HAD to do, or they would die. To see deftones post-Diamond Eyes, I often get the sense that the most important thing deftones want to achieve these days is to be liked.

A good part of the blame I level straight at Raskulinecz. A credible producer, having worked for the likes of Velvet Revolver, Alice in Chains, Rush, Foo Fighters and Goatsnake, one cannot say that he isn’t used to assisting capable bands playing as aggressively as possible. But at the same time, I feel he has reduced the band’s sound in many ways. Carpenter’s guitar now sounds beefier, yet also more blunted, and turgid. And the dreamy quality of many of their songs now depends on the bands instruments always fighting in the mix, as opposed to the seemless blend they’d originally maintained. deftones never used to feel like a shouting match.

Of course, it would be lazy to claim the producer is the sole culprit. Because the band is now so adept at recognizing what they’re good at, they appear to be fixated on sticking to that in the worst ways possible. On “You’ve Seen The Butcher”, Moreno coos out the words:

"Don’t want to take it slow.

Just want to take you home…”

Were this any other songwriter, I’d laugh off the cliche as a sign of stiff-knees from an aging songwriter. But this is Moreno, the man who’d once sang about being assaulted by a well-known Brazilian bandit/entertainer so abstractly, that I’d been convinced he was describing being molested by a hermaphodite. Granted, that is both far too much information, and personal conjecture at best; but the point is, while hearing Chino sing with much more ease and capability was great, what was coming out of his mouth was ghastly in comparison to his younger days.

The rest of the band is no better. On “Prince”, the band carelessly rewrote “RX Queen” from White Pony, “Beauty School” sounds more like a smoothed out version of a Limp Bizkit or a P.O.D. song, and “CMND/CNTRL” are the kind of songs that they’d left behind in the Adrenaline days, all brash aggression without the refinement and musicality that they’d spent over a decade perfecting. One reviewer admitted that there were moments the band occasionally seemed to be ‘on auto-pilot’ when critiquing the album; I’d offer that the whole record could be considered as such.

I recognize that the band themselves are proud of this record and a great deal of the fans appreciate and support this album. But for me personally, this record serves as a colossal mis-step, and not a ‘return to form’ for the band in the slightest. I eagerly await their next endeavor, despite their return to Raskulinecz (personally, I would’ve preferred the band meet with Robinson or Bayles for this last album) and their current sense of comfort with themselves. Yet regardless of any dissatisfaction I may hold as a fan with the album, I am positive the deftones shall remain a band that will continue to excite and amaze fans for many years to come.

The deftones would halt for a year, dealing with their fate as nobly as possible before eventually returning to live shows with the support of Quicksand’s Sergio Vega. Having filled in for Chi a decade prior and being a good friend to the band for just as long, it was a perfect fit, and before long they were playing again. Yet they would remain dissatisfied with Eros, and proceeded to turn their direction for a more positive album. As such, Eros remained shelved indefinitely, and with their new bassist they began recording an entirely different album with a new producer.

Our first glimpse at the deftones new condition was surprising. “Rocket Skates” was an up-tempo and aggressive number with a screaming chorus and a band eager to show it was as vicious and crafty as ever. It also remains the first time the band has debuted a single for an album since the Around The Fur-era that attempts to display brute force as upposed to reaching for grandiose. deftones seemed invigorated, and yet, something was missing. The verses seemed drawn out and the chorus would suddenly plunge into Moreno screaming out the words “GUNS! RAZORS! KNIVES!” and little more. For a band that had prided itself on its hooks years prior, this could easily be seen just as much of a step back as a return to form.

Still, there isn’t any mistaking the newfound enthusiasm the band had found. While they maintained that the decision to record a new album was entirely unshaped by Chi’s condition, one cannot help that the tragedy must have made them put their lives into perspective. After all, how many of their friends and comrades had failed to make it nearly as far as they’d come? Was it worth it to hold onto their grudges and issues and divide the band that had worked so hard to achieve so much? In that regard, considering the turmoil plaguing Saturday Night Wrist, it is refreshing to hear Chino’s estatic whoops of victory after each hook.

It should also be noted that for the first time in deftones history, Chino was… acting. Throughout the band’s career, videos would involve little more than the band performing and/or goofing off. Yes, “Back To School (Mini Maggit)” had him pretending he was in school and rising up against the school that was ‘oppressing him’… But he’d also been rapping and singing all the while, so in a way, he was still musically performing. This time, the band shots occasionally cut away to an abstract plot themed around Moreno (now looking much healthier than in the SNW period), a young lady, and secret hotel meetings involving weapons. A seemingly unimportant footnote, yet a footnote all the same. After over a decade of albums, touring and evolving as people, the deftones had changed yet again.

On the evening of November 4th, 2008, Chi Cheng was riding in a car back from a memorial service with his sister, when their vehicle lost control. The car would flip three times, and impact another vehicle at 60 MPH. During this, Chi was thrown out of the vehicle—due to not wearing a seatbelt—and ejected from the car. The resulting trauma left him in critical condition and effectively rendered him comatose for a period of time. Thankfully, he regained conciousness as of May 2009, but remains physically incapacitated up to the present day.
For the deftones, this was unmistakeably tragic; Chi had been in the band for what would’ve been roughly two decades of service and had been a dedicated musician. His positivity and wisdom had been well-noted amongst fans and fellow musicians. Despite occasional fears and repeated treatments Chi was able to endure the physical and emotional trials of his condition, and recovery has continued to this day; that he has made such progress is a blessing and will hopefully only continue as time goes on.
***
(Before we go on, it should be noted that many musicians besides the band themselves—not to trivialize the loyalty and care they’ve shown—and fans have extended regards of sympathy and well-wishes, as well as provided donations and organized fundraisers for the family to assist with the extensive costs of his hopsitalization & recovery. As his recovery remains incomplete as of this time, further information on contribution as well as up-to-date information on his progress can be found at www.oneloveforchi.com) 
— Maxwell Cavaseno High-res

On the evening of November 4th, 2008, Chi Cheng was riding in a car back from a memorial service with his sister, when their vehicle lost control. The car would flip three times, and impact another vehicle at 60 MPH. During this, Chi was thrown out of the vehicle—due to not wearing a seatbelt—and ejected from the car. The resulting trauma left him in critical condition and effectively rendered him comatose for a period of time. Thankfully, he regained conciousness as of May 2009, but remains physically incapacitated up to the present day.

For the deftones, this was unmistakeably tragic; Chi had been in the band for what would’ve been roughly two decades of service and had been a dedicated musician. His positivity and wisdom had been well-noted amongst fans and fellow musicians. Despite occasional fears and repeated treatments Chi was able to endure the physical and emotional trials of his condition, and recovery has continued to this day; that he has made such progress is a blessing and will hopefully only continue as time goes on.

***

(Before we go on, it should be noted that many musicians besides the band themselves—not to trivialize the loyalty and care they’ve shown—and fans have extended regards of sympathy and well-wishes, as well as provided donations and organized fundraisers for the family to assist with the extensive costs of his hopsitalization & recovery. As his recovery remains incomplete as of this time, further information on contribution as well as up-to-date information on his progress can be found at www.oneloveforchi.com

Track

Melanie

Artist

Deftones

Album

Eros

After the disappointing turn-out of Saturday Night Wrist, the deftones were given some time to catch their breath and re-asses their situation. The band decided they wanted to readjust: Moreno opted out of the writing process, leaving Stephen the chance to flex his guitar chops and his newfound penchant for 8-string guitars. Rumors of a new record suggested it was going to be aggressive yet ‘danceable’. Moreno regarded it as ‘evil-sounding’ and christined it ‘the best record they’d done since Around The Fur’. And so the band, reconvening with Terry Date, recorded the majority of a new album, tentatively naming the project “Eros”. The band was in good spirits and seemed ready to give it another go.

Currently, the only hints of the album’s sound are a few little YouTube teasers the band threw up whislt in sessions, and a song titled “Melanie”. According to the band, they’d decided to use the names of various strippers as working titles, so despite the feminine and gentle name “Melanie” is nothing of the sort. The best comparison to it would actually be “Rats!rats!rats!” off of Saturday Night Wrist; both songs have severe time changes and Chino barking in his high-pitched yelps.

Tragically, this would be the only glimpse at Eros

"Mein", the secnd single from Saturday Night Wrist, seems as logical a single choice as any from the album. The song chugs forward with an endless groove, while Cunningham maintains a curious shuffle beneath the guitars’ relentless driving. Meanwhile, Serj Tankian of System Of A Down glides in majestically, his own dark baritone providing a passer-by beneath Chino’s wavering coos torwards the end. However, the single failed to gel with the average listener and ultimately symbolized the band’s failure to maintain their commercial prescence.

After the dizzying highs of White Pony, there was no mistaking that the band was now ‘on the outs’. Critically, they were doing as well as they’d ever done, but the album debuted to a staggering 76.000 albums sold on their first week. Certainly no small amount in an era of albums leaking on the internet in the blink of an eye, but not in the eyes of a label who’d invested so much in getting the deftones into the position they’d once held. As of September 2010, it hadn’t even managed to go Gold in America, the first of their albums to remain unrewarded. Tragically, their sound was now regarded as a thing of the past, and once “Mein” slipped away from the charts any plans of a follow-up single were dismissed, and Saturday Night Wrist’s commercial potential considered ‘exhausted’.

From here the band’s life continues to become grim. One album would be shelved, one album would be a failure, and one of the band’s members would be struck by tragedy. As unfortunate as it sounds, we cannot end the deftones week without delving into even more of the fallout, with the band starting to plunge down from being former arena fillers into a band blessed with a core family of devoted fans, who would continue to support the band with everything they had. It would however, ultimately help the band become unified once again, and—despite all of the pressures arriving from every direction—they persevered.

Track

Xerces

Artist

Deftones

Album

Saturday Night Wrist

"Xerces" is a welcome calm in the violent storm of guitars floating through Saturday Night Wrist. Here, we are delivered with a simple piano melody while the band grooves along. Resembling something closer to ‘Adore’-era Smashing Pumpkins than the earlier slabs of aggression and despair hinted at before, the band breezes through elegantly as Chino sings about leaving earth for the afterlife. Like the majority of the band’s late-period anthemic songs, he swoops in melodramatically, gliding around the song while his bandmates plunge through the spacious weight of the song, eventually plunging into the chorus with senseless abandon. It is a trick that by this point the band has mastered and is completely comfortable with.

However, beneath the record’s poppy gloss remains a dark aftertaste. During the whole time Chino has been dreamily describing heaven growing closer and closer, he’s been taking great pains to express that when it arrives “I’ll be waving, goodbye!”. For whomever this trip is intended, heaven is seen as more than a reprieve from the pain of life; it now becomes a vehicle for one person to escape the other. Obviously, it is unclear if the heaven is a life after marriage, or life after death. But with that minor insight, the breathless wonder of the song takes an insidious light and keeps the album within its grim state of affairs.

Track

Cherry Waves

Artist

Deftones

Album

Saturday Night Wrist

"Cherry Waves" was at one point selected to be among the singles off of Saturday Night Wrist—out of the entire catalog of the deftones discography, it stands as one of the very best songs. Dubby drums start us off, clashing and ringing around the song while the guitars slide around like water along the sides of a circular tube. Meanwhile, Delgado provides us with a gong-like loop, echoing from the deepest distances of space, before the song enters it’s first verse, joined by Moreno’s cries and Cheng’s slippery bassline.

Vocally, Moreno is the most gentle and sensitive he’s been since the introduction of the album. After the elusive quality of “Hole”, “Rapture” and its intense viciousness, and the bubbling resentment of “Beware”, we are finally given a portrait of Moreno in a light that is no longer as hostile and hermit-like as before. Using a combination of naval imagery and regret, Chino describes his lover and fellow castaway as “hanging anchors over my neck”. A striking image; the song eventually climaxes into a churning tidal-wave of guitars signaling the hook.

"If the waves, suck… you in, and you drown.

If like you, should sink down beneath,

I’ll swim down…

With you…

(Is that what you want?)”

To describe the song as being a bit morose would be more than fair, as this may be Moreno at the closest he’s ever resembled to feeling suicidal. He has used the lost-at-sea metaphor to describe the chaotic storm of his relationship with Celeste and how their constant emotional-upheaval has started to take its toll on him. While Cunningham’s cymbals and Carpenter’s guitars splash around him melodramatically, he describes Celeste slipping away from him and paints departing after her as ultimately futile in the most graceful way possible.

This is one of the ways that Saturday Night Wrist, for all it’s oddities and numerous flaws, can truly come to life before the ears of the listener. The way Moreno’s voice squeals in a mix of delight and dismay on the word ‘suck’ sounding more like a seagull than on his usual delivery, is incredibly captivating. So for the many ways this record can sound ‘annoying’, ‘uneven’ and turn off the listener, there is an underlying sense of drama here quite unlike the average deftones album. Perhaps it lacks the fluidity of White Pony, or the cohesion of Around The Fur, but it remains a unique glimpse into the minds of the band at their most raw and emotionally volatile.