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Ranking Every Deftones Album From Worst to Best

Really, there is no "worst" Deftones album

Deftones
Deftones
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    Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection in the abstract. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we follow Deftones’ career, from their 1995 debut, Adrenaline, to their most recent effort, 2020’s Ohms.

    Deftones are a rare band who appeal to metalheads and shoegazers alike, offering a sound that’s both heavy and ethereal. And they’re also a rare band who really hasn’t produced a “bad” album, which makes ranking Deftones’ discography a difficult task. Right away, you’ll see that the “last place” album is a very solid effort.

    While Deftones may have emerged out of the nu metal scene of the mid ’90s, their musical maturity and sonic evolution over the past 25 years has distanced the Sacramento, California, outfit from others in that category. Now, placing a genre on Deftones’ music seems like a fruitless endeavor, as their sound is really undefinable.

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    Led by Chino Moreno’s soaring vocals, and the loud/quiet dynamic of his talented bandmates, Deftones are perhaps the most consistent “heavy” rock act of the past quarter century. Having tragically lost their longtime bassist, Chi Cheng — who died in 2013 after a car crash put him in a semi-coma for almost five years — Deftones have triumphed in their second act, continuing to release quality albums in recent years.

    While the #1 album on this list was a slam dunk, the rest resulted in a big debate among this ranking’s four writers. What one writer had at #2 was #8 for another writer. So, for now, it’s time to be quiet and drive through Deftones’ masterful discography.

    Update: Deftones will embark on a spring North American 2022 tour with support from Gojira. Pick up tickets via Ticketmaster.

    — Spencer Kaufman, Managing Editor


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    09. Adrenaline (1995)

    Deftones - Adrenaline

    Back to School of Thought (Analysis): Kicking off with the band’s debut LP, 1995’s Adrenaline primarily highlights the band’s earlier heavy sound. “Minus Blindfold” has Deftones playing to a variety of unique elements: from the laid back guitar rhythm and Chino Moreno’s spoken word flow, to the abrasive guitar chords and screeching vocals, the track offers a stellar range in performance. As Chino primarily focuses on singing throughout “One Weak”, the instrumental component shifts from minimal touches of sound to more vibrant rock.

    With Korn’s self-titled debut having been released the year before, Adrenaline came into the world as a strong entry to the nu metal genre. With tracks like “Nosebleed” and “Root”, the band provides a flurry of sporadic vocals and aggressively rhythmic instrumentation. These cuts, among others, allow Adrenaline to make for a solid headbanging experience. At the time of its release, Adrenaline was applauded for its unique touches of sound and style both instrumentally and vocally; today the record is still recognized as a strong debut for the Deftones.

    Compared to the rest of the band’s discography, however, Adrenaline does lack depth. While one can find enjoyment in the aggressive presentation and hypnotic sequences, there isn’t much of that progressive touch that represents Deftones’ sound as we know them now. The band’s iconic duality of dreamy heaviness only appears in small doses and would begin to blossom after Adrenaline.

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    Hardly a “worst” album despite its ranking on this list, Adrenaline was and is a worthy debut for the Deftones, introducing the world to one of heavy music’s unique voices.

    In the House of Fly (Best Song): Easily the most fascinating song off Adrenaline is “Fireal”. While the record does contain some variety throughout its material, “Fireal” involves the most diversity in sound, style, and structure. From the haunting use of minimalism to the hectic screams and grungy guitar playing, to the beautiful singing and clashing drums, the song makes for a unique composition of many qualities. More than any other track on the album, “Fireal” is a strong representation of what was to come from Deftones.

    Be Quiet for Now (Worst Song): Among all the songs, “Bored” feels the least engaging. The occasional shifts in intensity are devoid of any depth in structure compared to the dreamier and heavier songs on the record. “Bored” only briefly touches upon the band’s strongest elements; the back and forth fluctuation in heavy playing doesn’t capture the ear like the other songs. As one progresses through Adrenaline, the song becomes a distant memory compared to the LP’s other intriguing works. — Michael Pementel

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    Pick up Adrenaline here.


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