Review Summary: Adrenaline is Deftones' most underdeveloped album, but a handful of tracks make for a fiery, heavy experience.
Teenage years are a time when change is in the air. A teen has one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood, and the question remains: which will he or she ultimately choose. Since millions of kids were facing this unrelenting conflict as always, nu metal was bound to resonate with many at some point. In the midst of their aggressive and rebellious contemporaries stood Deftones, a band that distanced themselves from the gimmicks of nu metal through their complexity and audacity. Nevertheless, their debut album, Adrenaline
, comes across as an album for a similar audience. It's as if Deftones are not sure where to go next, but they utilize their talents to expend as much raw energy as physically possible in an album that lives up to its title.
Scattered throughout this album are traces of what Deftones would become: Chino Moreno's soaring vocals, battering guitar riffs, and, most importantly, unshakable vigor. However, on Adrenaline
Deftones put forth so much energy that they don't always know what to do with it. When their passion is channeled effectively, Deftones reach a feisty peak, but when it runs rampant, the songwriting becomes slightly dulled. Despite lackluster production and amateur composition, the band's vibrancy is Adrenaline
's saving grace. The spark that ignites the album from the start does not burn out until the very end. As a result, the intensity that Deftones bring to the table is enough to make one's head explode.
On this album, Deftones are at their best when they are shifting between their heavy and more melodic side. Standouts like "One Weak" and "7 Words" are among the most unpredictable tracks, deftly moving without warning from moments of soft-spoken, dulcet subtlety to vicious, elevated freak-outs. The band's confidence shines through every element of the music from the volatile guitars to the seething bass lines they lay down. While all this youthful ardor proves refreshing, there is inevitably something missing from the equation: elaboration.
Most of the tracks are nowhere near as unpredictable or dynamic as the more noteworthy numbers. A handful of tracks begin to sound generic and repetitive after the first few verses. On "Bored", for instance, the straightforward guitar riff gives way to an anticipated sonic flare that is relatively underwhelming and a strictly linear progression free of surprises. "Nosebleed" begins with a killer riff, but eventually deflates into a formulaic structure with more bark than bite. Tracks like "Root" leave the listener with little to chew on and don't deliver the jagged elegance that makes Deftones so memorable.
lacks depth in some spots, it contains a few hard-edged, catchy numbers that immediately get the listener's blood pumping. "Lifter" gives Moreno's vocals the space to mount a mechanical riff as the track slowly builds up to a fiery flood of anger. The juxtaposition of melody and rage on this track keeps it feeling zestful and erratic. "Birthmark" takes some interesting turns as well when the band grabs a basic, but enjoyable song and permits it to run itself off the rails by the end with a more rapid tempo and Moreno's unbridled yelling. There is some fun to be had with Adrenaline
even though its inconsistency can prove immensely distracting. Sure, Deftones sound very green and underdeveloped on this album, yet their innate ability becomes apparent throughout the album's course. "Fireal", on which Deftones delve into their darker and anxious proclivities, for instance, shows the band setting themselves apart from the average metal band.
leaves a lot to be desired, but there are a handful of excellent songs that keep the album moving forward. There's also something likable about the album's lack of embellishment. While this is not a technically impressive work, the band displays significant control over both their tone and their volume when necessary. At this point, Deftones had a lot of room to improve, but this album would serve as a stepping stone into greatness.