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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I want to be much more than more while I watch you", February 6, 2003
This review is from: Adrenaline (Audio CD)
A hardcore-sounding metal-punk-hip hop hybrid, I can't fathom why the Deftones were initially lumped together with bands like Korn (who call them their "brother band") - the 'tones are far more intense and original. And they are anything but generic trend-hopping rap-metal. The band has been doing this since 1989! I don't see why any fan of hardcore music would dislike the Deftones, especially Adrenaline. It's a hard-edged, raw, and just plain insane piece of music. Rage comes crashing through the speakers for the entire 40+ minutes of the disc. It doesn't sound fake or forced at all. You may not be able to understand exactly what Chino is screaming about, but you can tell he's pissed off. This is the kind of stuff metal lovers dream about. There is some subtlety here, however. The band does several softer, more haunting sections in the songs to contrast with the aggression. The Deftones have a truly terrifying vocalist in Chino Moreno, who goes from unsettling whispers to horrifying screams. (Dear God, does he scream. One of these days he's going to wake up with his lungs on the pillow next to him.) Guitarist Stephen Carpenter offers simple, but direct and scathing riffs, that perfectly match this style.
The brutal songs on Adrenaline are more than the best example of their style. It shoves pure rage into your face with its obnoxious and sometimes unintelligible lyrics and attitude, and is one of the most positively convincing 90s metal albums. After the first couple of listens, it sounded to me like extremely unvaried guitar riffing, weak melody and talentless screaming. But after awhile, Adrenaline opens up and reveals its strengths as a very heavy, direct, and emotionally powerful offering. Stephen Carpenter creates somehow unique-sounding riffs like the chugging opener "Bored," where the power of the band's chemistry comes together in a forceful mix, produced well by Terry Date. "Nosebleed" is a very harsh tune with truly angry and scathing, explicitly profane lyrics and hardcore energy in the music that somehow doesn't come off as merely juvenile, but as a genuine threat, and it's contrasted by a slower middle section that builds up again to the heavier verse part, all with the band remaining tight. "Minus Blindfold" is also a strong track, and an indicator that Chino is one to watch out for (or stay the hell away from, depending on your point of view). "Root," meanwhile, hints that the band is capable of expanding its creativity before this direct material could become stale in the future, featuring the most complex riff on the album and tremendous energy.
The quieter moments, "One Weak" (with nice bass work and frantic vocals), the closer "Fireal" (featuring a dark and desperate atmosphere before building up to a gripping ending), and "Birthmark" are also good songs. "7 Words" is an amazing wake up call that starts off quietly with the controlled vocals in the verses (helped out by an awesome bassline) before again going into unparalleled heavy viciousness. "Engine No. 9" shows a bit of a hip hop influence in the lyrics, which makes the attitude and the screaming chorus even more effective and noticeably psycho.
Of course, this IS a debut, and it shows. It often sounds underdeveloped, the production is quite raw, and the band is not as mature-sounding as they would be on later releases. Yet that's part of the fun. The reckless intensity displayed here is something they haven't captured again since (not that they're trying to). Not to mention that this record has incredible staying power. The Deftones aren't considered a band of great melody-writing power, but listen to the excellent riff of "Bored" or the haunting vocals of "One Weak" and tell me that stuff won't stick in your head for a long time to come. So is it a masterpiece? Not by a long shot, but it's essential nonetheless. Try to forget those new-metal biases, and you'll have a hell of a time. Adrenaline isn't for everyone because there is quite a bit of an obnoxious feel to it that may turn a few listeners off, and the songwriting doesn't quite sound developed to its full potential. But for classic aggression, this is an excellent record.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 23, 2012 6:13:10 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 23, 2012 6:15:44 AM PST
M. Bertrand says:
A bit of explanation, perhaps.

A) When the deftones first hit the national scene, the only thing close enough to compare them to was Korn and the only thing close enough to Korn was Deftones.

B) Korn has been around since 1989, too. You seemed to have phrased that as a slam against Korn insinuating that Deftones deserved to be more popular because they worked harder. Actually, Korn got them recognized on a national level because they are "brother bands"

C) they are brother bands (no quotes) because they are close in real life. Throughout the early 1990's they did numerous shows together and grew quite close.

The analytical musical aficionado can quickly and easily differentiate the significant architecture in Adrenaline vs. Korn (first self-title), particularly Deftones focus on melody (which you say they are NOT known for? Um...melody is their trademark) vs Korn's focus on the deep grit produced by dual 7-string Ibanez's, but it doesn't take much at all for almost anyone to see all that they have in common.

The paths these bands have followed in distinguishing themselves over the years has been wholly divergent, but they started out very close both socially and musically. Being so hard on Korn and other bands that you may have been implying just makes you sound contrarian. But, you are definitely right, this is essential for any serious collection.
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