Back to School (Mini Maggit)
Change (In the House of Flies)
Sacramento’s Deftones spent most of the ‘90s feverishly navigating the fringes of alt-metal. By 2000’s White Pony, they had effectively seized that scene, drowning its rage and recklessness in a moody, muddy stew of experimental metal, shoegaze, post-hardcore, and ambient noise. Opener “Back to School (Mini Maggit)”—a tidier rewriting of final track “Pink Maggit”—documents that takeover in radio-friendly format. Punctuated with adolescent angst, frontman Chino Moreno’s overblown raps bounce off the metallic squall as if ricocheting through locker-strewn hallways. But the rest of the album teases and torments within far more debaucherous environs, starting with the title itself, White Pony, a symbol of sex and a certain powdered stimulant.
Lead single “Change (In the House of Flies)” speaks to the mania those corporeal pleasures can elicit—its menacing plod gives way to an explosive chorus, then a sinister request: “Give you the gun, blow me away,” Moreno chokes out at the bridge. It’s certainly not the only time he flirts with death. On “Digital Bath,” he daydreams about an electrocution, whispering seductively under the narcotic spell of a liquidy synth; on “Passenger,” he trades taunts with Tool’s Maynard James Keenan on a whiplashing ride that’s heading straight to either transcendence or hell.
Guitarist Stephen Carpenter plays the willing accomplice throughout, slipping between silvery, snaking licks and atonal riffs. Meanwhile, keyboardist Frank Delgado washes it all in ghostly drones and gurgling effects, capturing a mood that ripples between paranoia and euphoria. It all makes for an intoxicating brew, one that Moreno blissfully bathes in on “Knife Prty,” in which he confesses: “I could float here forever.”