Chapter III: The Leaders
Over the course of Deftones’ undeniably impressive career, they simply have yet to release a bad album. Everything they've released has something special about it, but White Pony
is something different for the band and for music in general. Not only does White Pony prove to be Deftones’ landmark album, but a landmark album for the genre of alternative metal. At the time, everything thing across the board from lyrics and vocals to musicianship and most importantly, atmosphere had improved which is an aspect of their music that would be carry over into their later releases. Instead of crafting another standard nu metal album, they desired to create a more affecting album with emotional depth and expand into new territory. The band and most importantly, Chino Moreno, takes us on an astoundingly chilling and dark journey through atmospheric soundscapes and sinister lyrics that really manage to disturb the listener’s psyche on White Pony
. Since all of the lyrics are in first person, the listener will actually feel like they're a part of the journey and it is for this key reason that White Pony
remains something quite special.
As stated before, the most important aspect of the band that improved drastically happens to be none other than Chino Moreno. Right from the start of “Feiticeira,” the listener will immediately notice how affecting his performance is and how chilling lyrics are. However, it’s not until “Feiticeira” builds into “Digital Bath” which exists as a one of a kind masterpiece that the listener will be totally blown away. Completely littered with subtle effects and engaging guitar work, this track tells the sinister story of a murder from the deranged killers point of view, but told from the first person so we actually feel like we are sucked into the character’s mind. Sure, the guitar work and Chino serve as the centerpiece for the song, but Abe’s echoing snare and Chi’s bass provide the chilling foundation for these brilliant aspects to traverse. Trust in these words: Once Chino’s powerful yet conflicted delivery of “I feel like more” takes place in the bridge, the band’s vision for a more emotionally gripping ride will become clear.
This roller coaster ride of emotions easily barrels into “Elite” and “Rx Queen” with a reckless abandon with the band pulling no punches on “Elite.” It features one of the band’s hardest hitting guitar riffs ever as well as Chino’s screaming intensity turned up to eleven. In addition to the stellar musicianship described here, the phrase “When you're ripe, you’ll bleed out of control” is repeated many times and the message becomes clear. The song is so brutal and so hard hitting that Chino means to get the message across of what feeling elite actually feels like with this song. While “Elite” delivers in this type of intensity, “Rx Queen” tells the heart breaking story of a man being in love with a terminally ill women by means of Abe’s fantastically atmospheric drumming performance and Chi's simmering bass. It’s a truly sorrowful tale that showcases staggering amounts of emotional depth and masterful song writing.
Along the way, the band never exhausts any ability of delivering a powerful and intense atmosphere driven by raw yet textured guitar work. “Passenger” not only gives Tool fans a little fan service with Maynard James Keenan’s fantastic performance, but Stephen and Abe really get a change to strut their stuff with his guitar riffs bursting at the seams with passionate character and Abe’s signature snare sound finally coming into its own. Their talent really drives the song home as well as both of the singer’s perfect vocal chemistry. Both of their voices seriously sound like they were made to be in the same band together. Meanwhile, “Change in the House of Flies” shows the entire band’s chemistry as a whole being perfected. The band happens to think this is the best song on the album and they wisely chose it as the lead single. The song's chilling message of what could happen if someone starts hanging around with the wrong crowd is admirable and the track’s soaring atmosphere gets the point across perfectly.
The album ends with “Pink Maggit” and the song closes this masterpiece with a proper bang. It continuously builds by means of bleak guitar distortion and Chino’s ghostly whispers to a lyrically brutal and thought provoking chorus. However, one phrase sticks out like a sore thumb out of every line: “We are the leaders of all.” It’s quite unclear what this phrase is supposed to mean and it’s quite open to interpretation, but what happens to be clear is the band’s stature in context to this phrase. With the release of White Pony
, the band truly elevated themselves as the key leader of the genre of alternative metal with many bands attempting to follow in their footsteps.