Review Summary: like diving into a swimming pool at night, alone with your rage and thoughts in the waves.
To embark on the joruney of White Pony
is to completely erase yourself from your present moment. White Pony
works like a dream; meloncholic, atmospheric, vivid, and full of wonder. Even though Deftones are generally a nu-metal band, they incorporate different musical ideas into their work that put them well above their contemporaries. Stephen Carpenter's guitar riffs are nu-metal based, although he shows a keen ear for aura and atmosphere that covers their songs with a heightened punch of force, as his leads and strumming shower the songs with power. Really, each musician is skilled at his own craft; Chino Moreno's vocal range is huge as he belts out some of the more powerful and high octave shouts found in the genre, and Abe Cunningham's drum work is precise, strong, and his fills are always interesting and especially fun to learn. This is where Deftones and White Pony
really excel as a band and album; each individual instrument has its own journey that ebb and flow, coming together and pushing apart, creating an intense atmosphere throughout the entire album.
The one scenario I can think of that encompasses what White Pony
is and sounds like is diving into a swimming pool at night, alone in the waves with your rage and thoughts. The lights underneath the pool make the water shine bright, and the starry sky above stalks your floating body, calmly yet intensely fighting the density of the water. Where most nu-metal albums are purposely attempting to keep the listener entertained with heaviness and structure changes (which Deftones do well anyway), White Pony
adds the benefit of haunting atmosphere, something rarely seen in an album of this style. Chi Cheng's visceral bass playing in the verses of "Digital Bath" showcase the mood of the album and the name of the song perfectly; the song paints a picture of a soothing bath, filled to the brim with electricity and vibrant color. The chorus is epic and one of Moreno's best moments as he gets way up there with his screams of "tonight / I feel like more"
. Song after song entrances the listener with a great sense of dense mood and passion; "Rx Queen" tells the story of a failed relationship and longing for past love through lyrics from other planets and shoegaze-y distortion, "Teenager" is a take on the loss of innocence and growing up under slow ambience and almost IDM-like composition. "Teenager" also works well as a middle point in White Pony
, a slow down from the crowd-pleasing "Street Carp" and one of the heavier tracks in "Elite", where Moreno shows versatility in screaming his way out of the forcefulness.
And yet after all this, after "Teenager", White Pony
only then really starts to shine as 3 of the final 5 tracks are possibly the best of Deftones' career. Immediately after "Teenager" comes the ethereal and pounding "Knife Prty", which is essentially broken up into two segments that work beautifully together. The first half works like a sick fantasy from Moreno's own world, as Carpenter's repeating guitar riff echoes through until the drums finally kick in and the effect is startling. Moreno's sly whisper-like vocals of "My knife / is sharp and chrome / come see / inside my bones"
furthers the haunting atmosphere of the album. The 2nd half comes in after two heavy chord changes that repeat throughout until the end of the song, while the enchanting screams from vocal guest Rodleen Getsic send everything into oblivion. This part of the track begs memories of Pink Floyd's epic "The Great Gig In The Sky" where female vocal screams marked the highlight of their hugely successful Dark Side Of The Moon
And then there's "Change", the radio single and possibly the simplest song on the album in terms of structure and musicianship while still maintaining a great level of heaviness and aura. The fact that it comes so late in White Pony
gives further reason to listen to it in its entirety as it's definately one of the best and most hard-hitting songs on the album. White Pony
is an outstanding adventure to embark on and anyone should owe it to themselves to listen to one of the best albums in an otherwise stagnant genre. 4.5/5