Review Summary: The shade is a tool indeed, but this album marks the point in Deftones career where they come out of the shade and reach for the sky.
After the band released Adrenaline
, Deftones really had no clear expectations to live up to. Sure the album was quite solid, but they didn't utilize all of the potential they had at their disposal. All the band had to do was enviably improve upon what the listener heard on Adrenaline
with their sophomore outing and Deftones did exactly this. Around the Fur
had delivered yet another display of top notch nu metal and over the years it grew to be quite essential for the genre. Though it may not be drastically different compared to Adrenaline
, the more of the same aspect can easily be overlooked by the vast amounts of talent showcased here and their chemistry as a band began to grow. Granted, they still didn't utilize their utmost potential fully just yet, but be rest assured that Around the Fur
nonetheless delivers in terms of a new and improved Chino Moreno and engrossing musicianship.
Not only does Around the Fur
mark a point in the band’s career where they started to find themselves as a whole, but it’s also where Chino drastically started to improve. For the most part, the uncharacteristic spoken word vocals were not utilized nearly as much and his screams started to be perfected. Instead, the listener gets engulfed in his typical whispers and top notch screams that he is known for today. “My Own Summer” shows Chino at his best with extremely bipolar quiet to intense vocals as well as one of the band’s most memorable guitar grooves of all time. While “My Own Summer” centers itself on its infectious groove, “Be Quiet and Drive” places an emphasis on emotional depth with the guitar work acting as more of a terrain for Chino’s intense bipolar vocals to traverse. If listened to hard enough, “Be Quiet and Drive" easily sets the stage as an influence for Linkin Park’s debut record and the same can be said for “Lotion.” In fact, not only does “Lotion” feature the best screams of the record, but also Around the Fur’s
most head banging instrumentation.
Despite Chino often stealing the show here, make no mistake that the drums, bass and guitar work easily get many chances to strut their stuff here. As stated before, “Lotion” provides jaw dropping intensity in its instrumentation with Chi adding brilliant texture with the bass, Abe delivering a tight drumming performance and none other than Stephen nabbing the spotlight on guitar. “Dai the Flu” is easily another track that is a highlight of Around the Fur
due to these refreshing qualities. For the most part, the album delivers on all of these qualities across the board and if it wasn't for the lone dud that is “Headup,” it could have delivered a seamlessly enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, “Headup” doesn't showcase anything interesting in terms of instrumentation and Chino spits more spoken word vocals that only manage to come off as annoying. Thankfully, the band realized that these types of vocals simply are not a way for Chino to covey his poetic lyrics properly.
This marks the end of a purely nu metal Deftones, but the band surely moves on to bigger and more influential works in the future. As for Around the Fur
, everything that includes musicianship, songwriting, vocals and lyrics improved swimmingly. Chino stated in “My Own Summer” that “The shade is a tool, a device, a savior/See I try and look up to the sky, but my eyes burn.” This certainly serves as a perfect metaphor for bands that choose to stay in their comfort zone and if they don’t eventually look up into the sky they’ll fade away. Yes, the shade can definitely be a tool for a short time and it worked for Deftones, but they knew better than to stay in the shade. Soon enough, they’ll not only look up to the sky, but they’ll reach for it.