Around the Fur – Deftones

Release Year: 1997

Rating: 7.5/10

Though Deftones released their debut in 1995, it wasn’t until their second album they started to gain recognition. This record has some of their biggest hits and is often hailed as one of the best of the 90s. I always heard it was really good, so I wanted to check it out. With a gritty sound, aggressive riffs, and intense vocals, the album is more brutal than you think. It shows the Deftones are way heavier than you might expect. Though there are some hiccups, most of the tracks are aggressive and somewhat violent enough to lose your mind too.

Of course things start off with their most well known song “My Own Summer (Shove It).” This is still one of my favorites by them. The dirty, gritty riff pulls you in with its hypnotizing loop, while singer Chino Moreno lures you into a safe space with soft, soothing vocals. It’s not until the chorus that this feeling is shattered. All hell breaks loose as Moreno screams at the top of his lungs and the music grows more aggressive. Everything explodes punching you in the gut. This intense mood keeps going on “Lhabia,” which sounds sinister and evil. The gritty, grungy music makes a return, but it’s the whispering vocals that get under your skin. It’s another heavy track that’s also a highlight of the record. Things get unnerving on “Dai the Flu.” While it’s full of harsh guitars and a brutal assault on the music, it’s the menacing, lowkey aspect of the vocals that makes it so creepy. Moreno sounds broken and unstable as he sings “dislocated at the joint timing is everything in the bed/’cause you’ll sleep for hours to keep away/then sink the teeth and bat your eyes.” You can barely make out what he’s saying, which makes the whole thing a bit unsettling.

Most of the songs follow the same format: “Mascara,” “Around the Fur,” and “Lotion” all are intense and aggressive with their sound. They all also find Moreno using the quiet/loud/quiet dynamic when it comes to singing. While none of the songs are bad, the heavy music gets a bit repetitive after a while. The fuzzy guitars, thudding drums, and all the screams start to make all the songs meld together. The band rarely switches things up and when they do, it’s not often enough. One of the tracks that finds them changing up the sound is “Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away).” Rather than being in your face and aggressive, the music here is a bit faster and lighter than before. It’s as if the listener is finally getting a break from the previous musical assault. “Headup” finds another sonic change as the music has an underlying groove mixed in with the heavy, gritty sound. Moreno also switches up the vocal style as it sounds like he’s rapping. These tracks show what else Deftones are capable of, something they take advantage on their later releases.

If there’s anything you can say about the album is it shows how Moreno is an underappreciated vocalist. People often talk about Corey Taylor‘s ability to sound sweet and tortured in the same song. Moreno does the same thing. On tracks like “Rickets” and “MX” he plays with that dynamic. His singing is often soft and mellow, but out of nowhere he can strain his vocals to let out painful screams, shrieks, and wails. He has an impressive range that I don’t see many talk about. He manages to sound violent, harsh, and fucking mental when he yells at the top of his lungs , but just as fast as it came on, it’s suddenly lowkey, sometimes barely above a whisper. He’s a talented vocalist that doesn’t get enough recognition.

Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. The album is heavy as hell, which both works for and against it. Many of the songs are aggressive, intense, and even a bit disturbing. But since the band doesn’t switch up the sound enough, many of the songs end up sounding the same dulling the record a bit. While there are a couple of tracks where they explore different genres, it doesn’t come up nearly enough. Still, the album shows why Deftones are a great alternative rock band.

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