As we near the end of the list, all of the albums become gigantic. Maybe not in terms of reception, or albums sold, but in terms of how monumental an impact they had on me. Our number two is no exception. “White Pony” by the Deftones is still an album worth checking out, more than a decade after it was released. Number two on my favorite albums of all time, “White Pony” by the immaculate Deftones.
When I first got this album, I was speechless. It was everything I never knew I needed in a record. Sure I had been a fan of this band for a while now, but this was a different creature. They managed to take the aggression featured on “Adrenaline” and especially “Around the Fur” and bring that to a place where the aggressiveness was as big of a part of the album as the tender, pretty tones and soundscapes were. Immediately on “Feiticeira” you become aware that this isn’t a typical album you might expect from a “Nu Metal” band(they’ve since left that horrible affiliation behind them and continue to make interesting music), but that’s what they were trying to prove.
This album still to this day brings back all of the feels. It was at this moment in my life that the world seemed the easiest. With my best friends, we dove into the album, listening constantly and nurturing every beat, all of the nuances of the record,and giving our lives to one of the most underrated albums of the decade. Songs like “Digital Bath” not only work outside of the normal Deftones range, but they managed to still come off as feeling pure. One of the things that the band perfected on the album were the heavy and heartfelt. Vocalist Chino Moreno’s voice has the shriek of a deadly siren at times, but also the tenderness of a true lover in others. The band surrounding him, bassist Chi Cheng(R.I.P.), drummer Abe Cunningham, guitarist Stephen Carpenter, and new member Frank Delgado are the exact people to back his voice. Frank Delgado, especially, is a huge part of the shaping of this record. Before this album, he had only been a live performer, but on “White Pony” and even now he’s a full-fledged member. The sounds he brings through his deejaying are remarkable, and they add a layer of lush movement and glistening hope to a sound that was, to say the least, rough around the edges. “Digital Bath” is an early example of how different this album is compared to the earlier records, but it gets even more thick and lush as it goes on.
Now don’t get me wrong. Tons of these songs are still very heavy and in your face. Number three, “Elite,” and number eight “Korea” are without question the two heaviest tracks on the album. “Elite” has a weird vocal pattern and sound to it, like he’s growling for breathe while being drowned. It’s an interesting sound, and for the song’s intensity, it works well. “Korea” is a plain power house of force though. It builds from a futuristic opening space sound but quickly heads in the way of heavy. The vocals are sung nicely, and Moreno doesn’t unleash his intense vocals until the chorus approaches. Ahead of the album release, the band was on “OzzFest,” and this was the sole song debuted during those sets. You really can’t pick a better song from this album to play at that type of show, and it got people excited for what was coming.
“Rx Queen,” about Chino’s then wife, comes to us next. There’s really much that sets this apart from the vibe on the rest of the album, but it’s a nice little interesting song with some great drum work and it fits nicely in the sonic tone of the album. The next song of note, and one of the best songs ever by this band is “Teenager.” This song was the closer of many of the tour’s shows, and while the band has since gone to closing with incredibly heavy/ intense songs, this was a gently, lovely closer. This song belongs to Delgado and Moreno, and as such, they were the only two performing it during these shows. It’s one of the most romantic songs they’ve ever done, and it’s also the only song my wife even remotely enjoys. I’ve always felt it fit well in the world of “Blade Runner.” It has a future sound to it that places it gorgeously in the room when Harrison Ford and Shaun Young are getting close, and if you have seen this film, you might agree. It’s a love song through and through, and it builds hope and happiness on a massive scale. Hearing this song on a gloomy but pretty rainy day and knowing things will work out is a beautiful reminder of this greatly textured journey, and is a memory I’m happy to possess.
From here, we get strong song followed by strong song. “Knife Prty” is another driving force on the record, and it’s still one of the best songs they have at their disposal. One of the great qualities of this band has always been Moreno’s epic mode of storytelling. He’s able to reach out and speak about normal everyday things while touching on mythological themes and terrifying heartache and loss. “Knife Prty” is one of the better example of his style. For me, the female vocals near the conclusion of the song are the definition of mythological. Courtesy of Rodleen Getsic, they deliver full in tandem with Moreno’s own wailing spirits. It’s very reminiscent of something you might see in a greek drama film, or especially the seen in “300” when Leonidas climbs the mountain to visit the oracles. I always think of that when hearing this song.
“Passenger,” found to be the ninth song, is a force of nature, and easily my favorite song by the band. It probably has something to do with Maynard James Keenan from Tool being on the song. It’s fucking incredible to say the least. The back and forth between two of my favorite singers, not to mention two of the most interesting vocalists in the rock genre, is what ultimately drives the song,but it works in every way you want it to. The guitar parts are really slick and polished, and once again the background soundscapes by Frank Delgado add a mysterious undertone to the track. For a long time, I never realized that this could in fact by the sequel to the band’s “Be Quiet and Drive,” but looking back now it seems obvious. Having said that, sequel might be a misstep. Listening now, it might be the same event being looked upon from a different set of eyes. BQ&D might be one character sitting in the car wanting to escape, while “Passenger” could very easily be from the person in the seat next to him, who we weren’t even aware was in the car. Either way, whether I’m right or wrong, the song is exacting and is perfection in the form of music.
“Change( In the House of Flies)” comes next, and it’s the big single for the record. This was for many the first taste of what the concept of the album and sound approach might be, and it was a thrilling one. This is the band firing on all cylinders. Even the video is a great presentation of the song. The placing of the song is cool and unorthodox also. Not often are the lead singles found on the second to last track of the album. It just has to do with the casual fans wanting to hear something they recognize early on before they delve into the rest of the music, but here the band just ignores that. It’s placement is spot on, and for many, this was the song that introduced the band. It’s near the end, but clearly with this gem of a hook of a song, they didn’t just put a weak song near the records conclusion. Quite the opposite in fact. The last three songs might be the strongest songs on “White Pony,” but that unfairly implies the other songs aren’t as good. For my money, all of them are bad ass, and this album is a time capsule of that amazing summer.
The last song, “Pink Maggot,” starts out slow and creepy, but it explodes in a ray of sun and glistening guitar parts. Moreno’s voice is at it’s best here, and you get to see him demonstrate all the range he’s capable of. It’s also a great high school song. It captures the ups and downs of that section of your life, but advises you to stay true and let’s you know how important it is to keep on keeping on. Carpenter’s guitar is the last thing you hear as the song and album breathes its last, adventurous death. Finally the heartbeat of the album is heard, and it reminds us yet again that this is all a process of life, and that as long as you stay the course, you will end up where you want. Next, we’re gonna discuss my number one, about A Kid who changed the world and is currently in his thirteenth year of life. Thanks for reading.