Deftones shift boundaries with 'Around The Fur'
We welcome a new writer Jonah Hoy and as part of our 'An album I love' series he tells us why Deftones' second LP is his party starter.
Album: Around the Fur
Imagine the scene - you're in your late teens or early twenties, the sun is out and it is a hot day with nothing to do but hang out with your friends. At your favourite spot with beer bottles, cigarette butts and weed smoke layered around you. You're talking to one of your friends and dying laughing at a stupid joke. Or you might be chatting up the cute one you invited, and they are twisting their hair in their fingers, giving you that smile.
What album would you put on for the party?
The only album that comes to mind would be Around the Fur by Deftones.
Deftones have been one of those bands that have gone on to gain critical acclaim, Grammy awards and have put their names into music history as one of the most influential artists. They achieved Grammy success with their album White Pony and went on to change their sound, experimenting with atmospheric tones that seem to surround you at every corner.
Around the Fur was the album that put them on the map and set them apart from other alt/nu-metal bands. This anger-filled, supersonic like grooving liquid sound just takes you by storm the minute it starts off. With My Own Summer, it comes out of the gate swinging, going where the genre before had not yet dared to go or had even wanted to.
Nu-metal is this combination of hard distortion and simple chords in almost always a drop-d format. This is where those breaks and palm mutes, hard-hitting, almost glass-shattering chords come in to create that hard sound.
What sets Around the Fur away from other alt metal outfits is that it is nothing like Limp Bizkit or Korn. They both had this simple texture which was new to the scene and aggressive, as is Around the Fur. But Limp and Korn also had an edge of trying to be in your face, almost confrontational. It had a theme of being violent from the beginning, for example, Break Stuff. In Limp Bizkit's case, their alpha male, ultra-aggressive attitude was to be rude and angry simply because they could be.
Korn did not have the same alpha-male rudeness as Limp, but used their lead singer's vocals to do the notorious, almost steel wool beatbox sound over the pounding drive they delivered through their amplifiers. When nu-metal is mentioned, it's almost always Korn and Limp who are brought up as exemplars and laughed at, even though they were super popular at the time.
Even today, the scene is seen as a laughing stock because of the elements and themes in its music and lyrics. The tagline they get is alpha-male incels who hate women and are super aggressive. With no emotional honesty or inward thinking approaches and being loud and confrontational just because it can be.
Around the Fur defies that by all measures. When it came out, it put the band in the limelight as being able to go on to bigger and better things in music. Chino, the lead singer, described his time writing that album as the angriest he had ever been in his life. His screaming and lyrics were something out of a volcano that came up from all this mid-youth angst. But it was so emotionally inward and introspective dealing with issues of vanity, the idea of perfect places where supposedly nothing bad is supposed to happen.
This rejection and introspection, of something that I have trouble even trying to describe, puts you in this blanket of liquid metal. It wraps around you with its vibrations and the lyrics are white noise as that blanket carries you through the stratosphere.
Around the Fur marked them out as being lyrically and musically mature. This is the album where Deftones became Deftones. You can hear it outside of the guitar riffs and drum beats. Something is lingering in the back and it takes you inside of it. It's dark, tight and warm, and you're not sure where it will take you.
Around the Fur has inspired modern pop to become edgy and it's one reason why it is improving, with artists like Slayyyter, Rina Sawayama, and Bexx. They have incorporated nu-metal into their pop songs. Like Rina's hit XS with its chorus of power chords Deftones have supplemented not a new generation of metal artists but pop. These women, I think, are taking what Around the Fur did and repurposing it into a femme fatale dedication with their own spin. It is emotionally inward and has that raw sound that takes over, and it's not just the pop artists. Others are trying to capture just an ounce of what this album has.
Around the Fur means to me that you can be as emotionally mature and angry at all the bad things in the world as you want. You can hate it all, even let it cut you deep, but here is this outpouring of almost precise heart-pulling honesty that defined a generation. Be as angry at the world as you want without letting it get to you and have something beautiful that still makes you want to get up and dance.
That's why I would play Around the Fur at that Summer party.
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