Source Material: Deftones, White Pony
by Justin Farrar | August 21, 2012
Back in 2000, Deftones unleashed an album that still stands as the most singular title in their discography. As with Tool's Ãnima, Sepultura's Roots and Faith No More's Angel Dust, White Pony is the sound of a band engaged in paradigm-busting creativity. The music is experimental and extremely personal, littered as it with Chino Moreno's cryptic poetry ("Back to School (Mini Maggit)" = utterly surreal wordplay) and howling spasms (see the metalcore-tinged "Elite"). What exactly Moreno is trying to say isn't always clear, though he spends a good amount of his time meditating on drugs, alienation, anger, sex, paranoia, violence and all around psychic deterioration. So yeah, White Pony is definitely one of the darkest records alternative metal produced in the post- In Utero era.
Sonically speaking, Deftones adhere to the "everything but the kitchen sink" philosophy. Deliriously dense and complex, every tune is packed with shades of heavy metal, funk, hip-hop and industrial. Not only that, the group's love of alternative rock and electronica (Hum, Radiohead, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, The Smiths) informs the hazy, narcotic wash enveloping numerous songs, including "Back to School (Mini Maggit)," "Feiticeira," "Digital Bath" and "Teenager."
At the time of White Pony's release, the concept of fusing metal and alt rock certainly wasn't new. Bands as diverse as Killing Joke, Life of Agony, Quicksand and Helmet were all pivotal in breaking down the barriers between the two worlds. Yet there's something unique about White Pony that sets it apart. Maybe it has to do with the fact that unlike any of those other groups, Deftones have never been considered artists, much less from some kind of underground/subculture. They're more or less meaty bros from California who prove that meaty bros from California can be just as edgy and weird and different as any indie rock band Pitchfork enjoys hyping.
That said, maybe Deftones felt like they had ventured too far out with White Pony? After all, 12 years later and they've yet to release anything quite as stridently anti-commercial. Or, maybe the music was simply a reflection of certain life circumstances the band found themselves dealing with for a short while. If the latter, maybe it's for the better they haven't made another record quite like this one, because whatever it was they were going through definitely wasn't positive.