Def To Nu-Metal

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If you were of record buying age in 1994, chances are you were tired of grunge. Sure Transylvanian Hunger came out that year, but I was working in a record store at that time and clearly remember not being asked to special order a single copy of it. The metalheads in the know were buying Acid Bath, Kyuss, and Tiamat. When the first Korn album came out it was clearly something different. The Deftones might have engaged in some of the b-boy foolishness nu-metal quickly gave way to, but over the years that followed, they became the last nu-metal band standing. This was due to the fact they changed in their house of flies enough to remain relevant. But the definition of metal also changed. Today, they are considered thinking mans’ hard rock alongside bands like A Perfect Circle.

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Deftones’ new album Gore is filled with a sense of nostalgia for the days of Adidas pants. The high brow art rock is dialed back for the kind of heaviness that drove frat boys crazy in the pit back in 1999. In short, I’m more convinced by their brand of heavy than I was by anything on the new Killswitch Engage. Sergio Vega from Quicksand continues to fill in on bass, making this his 3rd album with the band. The influence of his former band can be felt on some of the groove here. The time machine doesn’t take you right back to 1996, though; instead the album picks up where they left off on Koi No Yokan, with smooth, moody melodies that you’ve either signed on for already or not. Then, you have to make it through some very hypno-sexual trip-hop tinged atmospherics that drone like Mogwai at best, and at worst find Chino lost in a fey croon that sounds like something more fitting of My Chemical Romance or Coheed & Cambria. If you ever found yourself high on ecstasy in the mid 90’s and questioning your sexuality, then this might be reasonably tolerable to you.

Now we begin to get into the meat of the metal as the album takes a turn for the heavier with “Doomed User,” the second single. There is a riff on this one that has more in common with “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath,” than any of Faith No More’s bastard mall metal children. At first “Geometric Headdress” fakes like they are taking a darker turn until the more chugged riff comes. Chino throws in some old screams, but at times if it wasn’t for the way the riff resolves itself that I would think this is an April Fool’s joke and someone slipped some Mudvayne in on me. More synths inhabit this album than I’ve heard the band use on previous albums, with weird Mr. Bungle-like noises bubbling under. When they do crunch in, the distortion is dirtier and rawer than anything since “Adrenaline”.

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Drummer Abe Cunnigham has always been solid, but on this album he has lost his mind going at his kit with almost Danny Carey-level playing. This is proggier metal than I have ever heard these guys tackle with dips into noise freak outs before coming back in with a break beat like they are possessed by Aphex Twin for half the song. When it gets to the crunch of “Pittura Infamante,” you assume the Deftones have figured out that middle ground in metal no longer exists and it’s go harder or go home, even though the chorus makes use of more melodic vocals. This is done with grit that doesn’t come across as a stab to joining the second string of nu-metal offspring on the radio waves of white suburbia. Chino and the boys are off their meds as the album’s bi-polar streak finds them playing with alt-rock bordering on pop-punk when it comes to the song “Xenon.” I guess they are trying to prove to all the Myspace metal kids that have now grown up and got jobs at the mall that they can keep up. It wasn’t until the vocal melody in the final minute that I considered this could even be Chino singing.
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On “(l)mirl” they impress me once again by bringing it heavier, even if it does have some of the glue sniffing nu-metal like aggression, but if it is going to happen this is the way to do it. I guess when they said this album was going to be more influenced by Morrissey they were joking, despite the more introspective vocals mixed into the title track’s more volatile turns.

Older and wiser, there is not the same youthful explosion in how the songs are propelled. Sometimes this album makes me feel like they are circling wagons of bands they influenced. A good example of this is how they close the album as “Rubicon” which sounds like a long lost System of a Down song mixed with some Candle Box. This necromantic attempt to resurrect nu-metal is done with convincing vigor leaving me a little mixed about the direction at times; if you were ever a fan of the band before and you traded your Coal Chamber shirt for a Behemoth hoodie, then this is worth a few minutes of your life. I get a little more conflicted with each listen, but the fact I’ve played more than once says something.

  • Nina Osegueda

    In 1994 I’m pretty sure the only CD I owned was the Aladdin soundtrack…

    • In fairness, it did introduce to a whooooole neeewwwww wooooorrrrllllldddddddd

      • “IT WILL NOT BREAK! IT BROKE!”
        RIP ROBIN WILLIAMS

      • Nina Osegueda

        :>

    • Eliza

      Back in 1994, I was just a relationship.

    • Dubs

      “Whoomp There It Is”

    • CyberneticOrganism
      • Eliza

        My eyes, my poor eyes.

      • why

        • And you get mad at me for posting anime

          • hieronymus bossk

            Well yeah, anime is still worse.

          • i think this means you’re off the hook for a while

          • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

            Yeah, but you’re constantly exploiting the fact you’ll never get banned no matter what.
            #BANRANDALL

          • Vault Dweller

            Looks like we’re going to have to exploit his weaknesses in return.

            Bring your best paddlin’ paddle, Bear.

      • The Tetrachord of Archytas

        how come you by this???

        • CyberneticOrganism

          I googled “aladdin lol”

  • *Hugs my KSE review*

    Shhhh, it’s ok. I still <3 you

  • Eliza

    As far as bands that can be tagged as nu-metal, Deftones is my favourite, second maybe to RATM (depends on my mood).

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      Deftones has never made an album I dislike.

      However, I dislike ALL of RATM hahahaha

      • Eliza

        That’s ok. But why, though?

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          I can’t stand de la Rocha’s rap/shouting style. It really gets on my nerves.

          • Eliza

            Those kinds of vocals irritate me unless Rocha does them. I think he has a style of his own that works well for me. One of the main reasons I usually can’t stand nu metal is the rap and shouting.

          • tigeraid

            Indeed! That’s what I hate about nu-metal mostly, is the vocals. I can kind of get behind the sound of the music itself, sometimes (Slipknot comes to mind), but the juvenile shouting is just grating.

          • Eliza

            Perfectly summed up my feeling for this music there.

      • Owlswald

        It’s funny, I used to absolutely LOVE R.A.T.M but when I recently re-visited their albums I got bored quickly.

      • tigeraid

        FrankWhiteKinOfNY pls! RATM are gods.

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          I respect them, I just don’t like them hahaha!

    • Maik Beninton™

      RATM is not nu-metal, their sound is quite different.

      • Eliza

        Well, they inspired nu-metal, so some people put them in that category. I don’t care about genres all that much.

        • tigeraid

          Gonna have to disagree there, though they definitely came around the same time, and mostly the same crowd of people. Only angrier. They defy category, I think.

          • Eliza

            If through “defy” you mean “are better than most bands in this genre”, then I whole-heartedly agree.

          • tigeraid

            I see wat u did there.

  • YourLogicIsFlushed

    I am about halfway through the album now coincidentally. As a very casual Deftones listener, I really appreciate some of the context you provided. The way you describe it, I think this album is probably one that I would like the most based on their evolution. Unfortunately I can’t even call it my favorite album released today, but it will join the semi-exclusive club of my spotify library.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    “You’ve Seen The Butcher” is a great song. A chill groove with low riffing.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Also, I would totally listen to a Stephen Carpenter metal project. Hasn’t he said he wants to do more of that nowadays?

      • Vault Dweller

        Yup, and I’d also love that too.

        And you’re right- You’ve Seen the Butcher is fantastic. Great in a wide variety of contexts, too!

      • RustyShackleford

        I agree. Although I still think people are blowing out of proportion his whole “I wasn’t into this at first” thing. The dude likes heavier stuff like Meshuggah, but i still think he enjoys playing with Deftones. Maybe he needs to be more blunted before he does his interviews.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITs2bKcxPPE

  • Edward/Breegrodamus™

    Nice to see Wil from CVLT Nation make an appearance here.

    SWANS.

  • In the midst of all of this Nu-metal there was a Darkthrone shout out…

    https://24.media.tumblr.com/75346cca3a24e88b2b13c561671f3277/tumblr_mu707xjAuD1stkcgeo1_500.gif

    • Rob M

      Did somebody say Transilvanian Hunger

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iaj2w7Bp58

    • I feel like he did a sweet job of pulling a variety of band names in such that everyone had a dog in the fight. Less nerd rage that way!

      neat write up!

      • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

        He did a good job.

    • COAL ROLL
      • 94 was a good year for black metal. Also, Gorgoroth – Pentagram, Burzum – Hvis lyset tar oss, Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse, and Enslaved – Frost. The list goes on sir.

    • TheCheezFace

      Also an Aphex Twin one.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    So far I’ve liked everything Deftones put out. Judging by my mathematical calculation, there’s a chance of 9% I will dislike their new album.

  • Tim Wilsön

    Don’t really hear any nu-metal ish vibes besides the title track chorus personally. This is more post-rock in the vein of ISIS and Palms

  • hieronymus bossk

    This album has been hit and miss for me so far. Feels like something is missing (good chance that’s due to Stephen Carpenter’s lack of involvement.) at times. It’s like the whole Jim Martin/Faith No More thing when he didn’t like the direction they took during Angel Dust. When the songs hit though on Gore, they hit well.

    Best tracks: Prayers/Triangles, Acid Hologram, Hearts/Wires, Rubicon

  • Owlswald

    I found Korn, Deftones and System of a Down on the Box music video channel during its short stint in the early days of Comcast digital cable. Deftones were the only band to release consistent, quality material. Even after I found extreme metal, the Deftones have always had their place. God damn, Adrenaline and White Pony were awesome albums.

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      I still like Korn’s first album. Fuck it, I think it’s good. After that it goes from mediocre to downright shitty (most of the time).

      • Owlswald

        I still think the hidden argument about the Dodge Dart is funny as hell.

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          Hahaha yeah, I think the album as a whole is put together quite well and really has a good, dark, genuine atmosphere. Something which all their other albums (except maybe for Issues) lacked.
          I understand the album not being someone’s cup of tea (I even think nu-metal produced way more shit than good stuff myself), but “bad” it is not.

  • Vault Dweller

    The Deftones are gods. Going to dip out of the office and buy this one on lunch break today, can’t wait!

    Glad to hear it contains more of the mellows I loved so much on Koi No Yokan and Diamond Eyes but also a… possibly heavier backing section. Abe Cunningham is and has always been the man!

  • I’m curious to hear the entire album. I felt like Deftones really hit their stride on the last two albums by combining the laid back trippy elements with the hard stuff.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      A lot of people told me the last Pyramids album sounded a lot like Deftones. I really dug that album but haven’t listened to much of Deftones since I was a teenager, and not much then anyways.

    • Owlswald

      Diamond Eyes was the perfect balance between heavy, catchy and spacey songs. One of my favorites.

    • while i agree with you, Saturday Night Wrist is a jumbled collection of songs in which the good songs are FUCKING GREAT (Cherry Waves, Beware, and my favorite Deftones song KimdraculaK!!!)

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        Upvote x 1000 for Kimdracula

        “I…I…I really WISH these snakes were yourarrrrrmmmmmmsssss”

        Fuck it, make that an upvote x 10,000

      • I haven’t actually heard that album in full. Someday I will have to revisit.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Since Tiamat gets mentioned in the comments, am I the only one who thinks that they should’ve called it quits after Wildhoney? That album was fucking great. The following album has a fanbase, but I found it to be meh. After that they started wearing black nail polish and started playing bland goth rock.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB9YYC-8jwY

    • CyberneticOrganism

      There was a span of a couple weeks where I had that album on almost constant repeat. I hated my job and it soothed my cyborg brain.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        “soothing”

        That’s the word to describe parts of this album.

      • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

        Fucking White Water man. That album really ends on a great note.

        Also Lick a Doo.

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      Also, Acid Bath gets mentioned in the comments. And I won’t post anything by Acid Bath, because my undying love for that band is getting tiresome to everyone else.

      Or fuck it…I will post something from Acid Bath.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ucmoTvfjwQ

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        And here…have some Kyuss.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8VmoqBz9Vg

        • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

          Kyuss is awesome.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            ..

          • Kyuss, kyuss they are.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            You’re the best, GL!

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            He’s the worst.

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          Since they get mentioned in the article as well…I may or may not be alone in this opinion, but I think that first Mudvayne album was really really great. Second one was still good, after that they turned into a pile of shit.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c9NL2psyYQ

          • Stagnant.

            A couple songs, yes, if it was not for Nu-Metal they would have been all that is good about Meshugah with actually interesting songs. Genre trends ruin music.

        • Sir Tapir The Based

          Goddammit I fucking hate Kyuss

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Well that doesn’t surprise me…

        • Stagnant.

          Didn’t they use to be a band that was actually interesting called Damad?

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Damad turned into Kylesa. To be honest, I’ve never actually listened to Damad. I should check them out.

          • Stagnant.

            Holy fuck should you ever. A buddy of mine just picked it up on vinyl for five bucks, beyond jealous.

      • brokensnow

        HHHEEEYYYYY KKKIIDDSSSS

      • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

        I’m partial to Scream of the Butterfly myself.

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          I really think it’s an all killer no filler album. It’s in my Top 10 for a reason.

      • Stagnant.

        Most under rated band of all time. ALL TIME. Hands down. Should have been mentioned alongside Pantera and Metallica, shows how unjust the world is.

    • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

      Random story. I had downloaded this album when I went to study abroad a few years back, one of many for my journey. Listened to it on the plane, liked it but didn’t blow me away. Couple days later I take a train over to Maastricht in the Netherlands, buy a certain psychedelic fungus and eat some that night. Starts kicking in right when I’m going to bed, so I play this album on my iPod and holy shit, it blew me away. This album will always have a special place for me because of that. So heavy yet so melodic

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        I really like the twists and turns the album takes. Almost every song contains more than a few surprises.

        Fun fact: I live quite close to Maastricht.

        • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

          That’s awesome. I stayed across the border in Leuven but traveled around the neighboring countries. Really liked that Maastricht area much more than say Amsterdam. History everywhere.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            I studied in Leuven for one year, but failed miserably. I live not so far from Maasmechelen in Belgium, which almost directly borders Maastricht. Really laid back area.

    • Stagnant.

      NO. Love Wildhoney, but obviously you never heard Prey. The Astral Sleep is also a magnificent album, my second favorite.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        I’ve listened to The Astral Sleep before, but that’s quite a while ago. I can’t remember listening to Prey. I’ve listened to an album and select songs from their later period though.
        Perhaps I’m too quick to jump to conclusions about them. I have that problem quite often…

        • Stagnant.

          Heh dammit Frank, you and me both. You crack me up man.

  • Count_Breznak

    All of this reads like it is a good idea for me to stay as far away from that album as possible.

    • Owlswald

      Give it a try. All the cool kids are doing it.

      • COAL ROLL

        In ’94 the cool kids were smoking beedi’s

        • Owlswald

          This guy included. That habit is one that fortunately didn’t stick.

        • I’ve never heard of this

          • COAL ROLL

            I’m sorry that you weren’t cool in 94

          • I was 8.

          • COAL ROLL

            whippersnapper

          • Oh, look at the fuckin big man on campus, huh? I was half that age and smokin beedi’s like a champ.

            What are beedi’s?

          • Dubs

            If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

          • Óðinn

            We were all 8 once, Joe. 😉

  • RustyShackleford

    …I like this album lol. Yup.

  • Owlswald

    I’ve listened to roughly half the album so far and this sounds a lot more like a Palms album than Deftones.

  • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

    This was a well thought out review Wil, good job! I’ve never been a big fan of Deftones, but I can respect them. Perhaps i need to give their music a bit more consideration.

  • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

    Oh, and… Kyuss>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      HEAR A PURRIN’ MOTOOOOOOOOOOOOR

  • Óðinn
  • Óðinn
  • great article Wil! very excited to hear the whole thing. very excited to see TovH being positive about The Deftones too

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      Surprisingly positive to say the least.

  • Good review, Wil. I enjoyed how much time you put to explain the songs and how they resonated with you, and the constant comparisons with different sounds, as well.

    I’m not a Deftones follower, but I liked Koi No Yokan. This one is tagged in my #LinkNotebookOfAlbumsToListenOn2016

  • Waynecro

    This is a really great review. Thanks! I’ve never liked the Deftones, and I have no desire to try to like the band now. Far too many other bands and new albums require my attention.

  • Stagnant.
  • Stagnant.

    I would actually argue that Coal Chambers-Chamber Music is Nu-Metals most unrecognized album. While I have no interest in anything else they have done, this particular album help up well into adulthood. Its as if Depeche Mode were to make a Metal album, the choruses are incredible and the song writing is top notch. I completely understand why you would scoff at this, but listen to My Mercy or Burgundy than come back and tell me what an idiot you think I am.