Deftones – White Pony (2000)


We join the ‘tones in medias res for this album, having already built a style and fan-base with Adrenaline and Around the Fur but before exploring a new(ish) sound with their self-titled and Saturday Night Wrist. And again, I’m sure many die-hard fans would slam me for raving about an album that is not widely considered “the best” but this cd is amazing. It’s mature, layered, and extremely emotional while still being hard, crunchy, and metal enough to count.

It opens with Feiticeira, two distinct guitars playing similar riffs, crisp steady drums, and then Chino comes in with an almost crooning voice – occasionally reaching to a shout (not scream). A truly strong opening. Digital Bath slows it down a little bit with a haunting background melody, I would call it a kind-of ballad but I love it for the screechy feedback-y guitars about 3/4 of the way through. It’s short moments like that that will actually make me fall in love with a song. Elite is probably the most truly metal song on the album and is much faster than the rest – a good rage-out song. Rx Queen is fine; Street Carp, too – if only a little annoying with the “here’s my new address” lyrics, and Teenager is pretty. But the most incredible song on the album is Knife Party. It’s got a rhythm that’s almost anticipatory – the whole time it feels like it’s building to something. And the vocals are almost imperceptibly a quarter beat off but it has a really powerful effect. About mid-way through a female voice comes in with screaming/chanting/moaning and it is unbelievably cathartic to sing along – even if I can’t hit those really high notes. And it’s romantic as hell. Korea is a good song to catch your breath before the next truly great tune, Passenger, hits in. Now Passenger features Maynard James Keenan as a guest vocalist and he and Chino were meant for this duet. The lyrics are really detailed and poetic and the music is gorgeous. In fact, my first copy of this album scratched at right about this song and I had to immediately go out and buy a new copy because I couldn’t bear to have a blemish on such a beautiful song. Change (in the House of Flies) is the single and probably to this date the most popular song of theirs, but I really can’t stand it (at least the version on this album – an acoustic version on a different album is really much better). And Pink Maggit closes (most versions of) the album. It too is breathtaking – with a steady heartbeat throughout the entire slow, quiet, thoughtful tune. It can sometimes make me cry.

The thing that really bothers me about this album is that there are about a dozen (ok, four) official versions that Maverick released – all pretty much at the same time and all with different bonus songs or lack-thereof. Kinda makes it hard for obsessive fans to collect all their music – or at least expensive. For that reason, I choose not to comment on the bonus songs.

This is one of very few items that I have taken (or will take) the time to review literally on a song-by-song basis and part of that is probably because I pretty much fell in love to it and it all means a lot to me, but love or no love, it would still be a favorite album. I find myself constantly impressed with Deftones’ ability to sound special and unique among a genre that has a lot of soundalikes, and I credit that they refuse to really apply a genre to themselves. For example, when Chino refers to the band as punk, the rest of the guys ask him what the hell he’s talking about. And their entire catalog is fantastic, but White Pony is a standout achievement that is still a major player in my regular rotation. Good for all activities from car to work to gym to party. Crank that business.

1 Comment

  1. Jeffrey said,

    April 4, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

    Agreed, this is a great album, although I have always been pissed off about the number of versions of it. There were three on the day it was released (and five overall)… WTF!

    I was not lucky enough to make it to the store in time to get one of the red/black covers + bonus track versions (I think people were waiting outside for it…I got there pretty early). Instead, I have the “real” gray cover version (not to be confused with the re-released white cover version). I don’t know who screwed the pooch on this one Maverick or the Deftones, but it was stupid and kinda ridiculous (the bonus track is insignificant to the overall album and does not make up for the missing heavy version of Pink Maggit).

    I have always preferred the fifth (or first) version that showed up on Napster a few weeks/months before the album was officially released. Apparently it was a rough cut of the album and included the crowd-pleasing heavy version of Pink Maggit, which I have always liked.

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