I really thought the Deftones were a Nu Metal band for most of my life. And, while it’s true, that some of their music veers into Nu Metal, they are far more musically diverse than their Nu Metal contemporaries.
It’s pretty safe to say that you could fairly easily categorize the various strains of “alternative metal” during the ’90s: there was the grungier, side, there was the artier side, there was the proggier side, there was the funkier side. And these were all continua, mostly veering out away from metal. But Deftones don’t really fit into most of these strands, in part because of the occasional hip hop influence but, particularly, because of the influence of British alternative music on their sound. Most American alternative metal bands seem to listen to either recent American music or older British (and American) music, whether it’s metal, funk and post hardcore or prog and psychedelia, respectively. But Deftones are conscious of more recent British music, and it shows.
And it’s an interesting (and often subtle) marriage. It’s easy from one song to another to say “Okay, this is a Nu Metal song” or “This is an alternative metal song”. But, as they jump around it becomes clear that you haven’t heard anything quite like it. They’re not as diverse as Faith No More (for example) but they’re more diverse, and more interesting, than any of the bands they were lumped in with at the turn of the millennium. (And, as I said, they seem to listen to other genres of music than those bands.)
I still struggle with the lyrics. They wouldn’t have been a problem for me had I listened to this when I as younger but it is now. As always, I feel like I have to say that I get that depicting is not condoning but, particularly in heavy music, not everyone gets that.
An impressive, diverse record that can’t really be categorized.