Around the Fur, by Deftones
Suggested by Craig Scott
In my teenage years, pre University, I was All About The Metal.
This was the late Eighties and early Nineties, so I had a wealth of incredible bands and albums available. Metallica were in their pomp, as were Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax. Outside thrash’s Big Four were band like Guns n’ Roses, Iron Maiden and Faith No More, genuinely rocking the world. Then there were bands on the fringes, like Testament, Suicidal Tendencies, Voivod, Fishbone, Primus, Alice in Chains… the list is endless.
At University, my social circle and musical tastes were broadened, coincidentally when I chopped off my shoulder-length spiral-permed hair to adopt a classic-for-the-time centre-parted curtains look, much to the merriment of my friends at the time. And of course, after University when Real Life began looming large, my musical tastes were set in amber, like dino DNA, rarely swelling or moving forward. Such is the fate of us all. We Know What We Like, after all.
Deftones, formed in that heady period and inspired by the bands I love, should be a no-brainer. With their debut in 1995, they came a little late for the Metal Me, as by then my eyes were circling the Britpop scene, feeling fraudulent but also free of obligation to the back-patch and bullet-belt.
Unfortunately for Deftones, it doesn’t quite hook me like I’d hoped it would.
Musically, the sound is very mid-late Nineties metal. It throbs along without the scatterbang tautness of Eighties tracks, growling and grunging with an almost dirty quality. It’s deft, and shows talent, but it’s either rather generic else it’s dated rather badly. After twenty-three years, that’sonly to be expected, and if I’d picked it up pre-Amberfication of my musical tastes, I’m sure I’d have gown alongside it, loving every minute.
My favourite track is the first, My Own Summer (Shove It), probably because it can’t sound samey if nothing comes before it. But even in this, my main gripe about the album – the disconnect between the vocals and the music – is apparent, with the singer offering up echoing whispers and anguished scream with hardly a step in between. The vocals through the album seem disjointed, adrift from melody and beat, as if the band were trying jazz or scat in places, free-forming without success. To an extent, that shouldn’t matter – Metal is about the Music, after all – but I need such structure and forethought.
I did appreciate the use of Hidden Tracks, a staple of the genre back in the vinyl (and CD) days. When the sounds of Bong Hit trickled out of my speakers after a weighty silence, I genuinely thought my Alexa was malfunctioning. The final hidden track, Damone, was enjoyable too, but I may have been blinded by the gimmick rather than the brightness of the song.
I’m afraid I can’t go above 6/10 for Around the Fur, as it feels like it was written for a version of me that’s long since gone. I can’t fault it for its time, but if I’m questing for a kick of nostalgia, I’ll do it with songs that mean more to me than this.