Deftones (@deftones) is an atmospheric/alternative metal band based out of Sacramento, California. The band was at the forefront of the nu metal movement along with Korn in the mid 1990’s. Unlike many of their nu metal colleagues, they experimented with sounds beyond nu metal and have managed to remain an extremely successful mainstream metal act. The band is defined by it’s mix of slow and fast tempos, dynamic sounds, and signature whispered and screamed vocals of singer Chino Moreno.
The band was formed in 1988 by high school friends Chino Moreno (vocals), Stephen Carpenter (guitar), and Abe Cunningham (drums). They would audition bass players and hired Chi Cheng to complete the lineup. Through the early 1990’s they performed all over California until they were discovered by Madonna and signed to her Maverick Records label.
The band released their debut album, Adrenaline, in 1995. Along with Korn’s self-titled debut, Adrenaline would help to define the nu metal sound that would become popular in the late 1990’s. Unlike Korn, Deftones went beyond the conventional mix of hip hop and groove metal and added alternative metal influences from the Seattle scene and strange atmospheric sounds. The unique mix of sounds would help to differentiate the band from the cookie cutter nu metal scene that was about to explode. The album was certified gold in 1999 and platinum in 2008 with little to no radio or MTV airplay.
Their second album, Around the Fur, was released in 1997 and was one of their fastest selling albums mostly due to the increased exposure of mainstream metal on both the radio and MTV. The album was propelled by the singles “My Own Summer (Shove It)” and “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)”.
In 2000, Deftones released it’s most critically acclaimed album to date, White Pony. The band saw the decline of mainstream nu metal and expanded even more on it’s unique sound by adding more atmospheric elements, more melodies, tightly written songs, and progressive metal influences. The single “Elite” won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance and the album reached platinum status within two years, which was 13 years faster than their debut album. Deftones had become heavyweights in the world of mainstream metal without the benefit of much radio airplay.
Building off of the success of White Pony, the band continued to grow and experiment and released another critically acclaimed album in 2003. The self-titled Deftones, debuted on Billboard at number 2, which at this point was unheard of in the sharply declining mainstream metal scene. A couple years later, they released B-Sides and Rarities that included covers of “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “No Ordinary Love” by Sade.
Shortly after this, Deftones released their worst selling album, Saturday Night Wrist, in 2006. The album still has yet to go gold in the United States. There were some differences in opinion among the band members regarding sound of the album and who should be used as producer. Moreno ended up recording his vocals separately and the band was close to breaking up. The result was an album with no direction and a move away from their unique metal sound.
In 2008, the band began recording what should have been their sixth album, Eros. The band was experimenting with unorthodox sounds. It was material that never came to fruition because of the serious car accident suffered by Chi Cheng in November of 2008. Cheng suffered traumatic brain injuries and was replaced by Sergio Vega of post-hardcore band, Quicksand, for shows in early 2009. The band did not feel it to be appropriate to complete Eros without Cheng and they also felt that the weird direction of the album did not represent their true sound. The band was finally back on the same page.
In 2010 with Cheng having still not regained consciousness, the band released, Diamond Eyes, with Vega on bass. The sound was closer to their second release, Around the Fur. Although some of the songs received positive reviews, the album as a whole was still missing something. The band toured heavily in support of the album in 2010 and 2011. In early 2012, Chi Cheng would regain partial consciousness and some command of his legs, but still has never regained the ability to speak or move beyond the slight leg movement.
In 2012, Deftones would return to form and release Koi No Yokan. An album that many felt rivaled the sound and strengths of White Pony, while building more on atmospheric metal sounds. The album is the bands most dynamic to date with serious growth in both musicianship and Moreno’s signature vocals. The album was their most critically acclaimed and represented a major benchmark in contemporary mainstream metal. The band continues to tour heavily and remains one of the most sought after mainstream metal bands.
On April 13, 2013 Chi Cheng passed away.
- Adrenaline (1995)
- Around the Fur (1997)
- White Pony (2000)
- Deftones (2003)
- B-Side and Rarities (2005)
- Saturday Night Wrist (2006)
- Diamond Eyes (2010)
- Covers (2011)
- Koi No Yokan (2012)