Deftones - Deftones (2003), 6/10

Fiercely dark and angry, Deftones’ self-titled record encapsulates an era and a sentiment of melancholic and anxious youth. The band’s poetic use of dissonance has shaped a lot of what I personally listen to and expanded my taste in an irreversible fashion. After the very raw yet instrumentally cordial opener “Hexagram”, "Needles and Pins" is the perfect mood setting track, with a gripping, angry vocal delivery from Chino backed by a pure, archetypally metal instrumental. Abe brings some extremely memorable percussion work throughout this whole record and it starts with this track, a perfect example of his individual contributions to the band’s work that expand across their entire discography. "Minerva" brings things to a more accessible place than the rest of the album, and it works wonderfully to add a beautiful, memorable melody to an otherwise heavy and sometimes unrelentingly resentful sonic aura. "Deathblow" also breaks things up, in a different fashion, by offering a watery instrumental that crescendos into another angry yet ethereal climax. "When Girls Telephone Boys" shows a return to Deftones' roots showing their brutal yet pleasing use of dissonance. "Battle-axe" balances this out brilliantly and brings us back to a familiar, yet still sadistically harsh comedown. "Lucky You" sounds like it could fit right in on Team Sleep, meant as a compliment in both sound and ambition, and it provides a wonderful escape from the first side of the album's harsh, destructive tone. "Moana" closes things beautifully with another gorgeous track bringing memories of "Minerva" in its memorable melody and hook. Deftones' self-titled record is harshly overlooked, yet it is one of the most endearing, gorgeous pieces of metal you'll ever have the pleasure of listening to bar none. It sits in a unique place in their career development, expanding on the harsh yet accessible sentiments first explored on White Pony, still exploring their foundational aggression evoked on Around the Fur, and foreshadowing the strong and instantly digestible songwriting from Saturday Night Wrist all while breaking free from the nu metal conventions. They would not reach such a peak of unique, yet fully realized sound again until the stark change in direction and sound on Koi no yokan. Give it a shot and you may be surprised by Deftones’ potency.