Deftones Discography Part 2: Around the Fur

One of my favorite bands, the Sacramento-based Deftones, are preparing the release of their sixth full-length album, Diamond Eyes, on May 18.  In light of this, I am going back, re-listening to, and analyzing their previous albums to gain a perspective of the band’s past while waiting in anticipation of the band’s future.

Around the Fur by Deftones (Maverick, 1997)

Adrenaline had given the boys enough clout, along with incessant touring, that by the time Around the Fur came around about two years later, they were receiving minor airplay on radio and MTV.  The most prominent tracks from this album are “My Own Summer (Shove It)” and “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away).”  Both are signature songs from the group, giving the listener a more polished sheen to the quiet moans and squeals from Chino Moreno backed up by the metal prod of drummer Abe Cunningham and drop-D riffs from Stephen Carpenter.

Overall, that’s what Around the Fur is: a more focused, polished sound from the band, and a step forward in songwriting and structure for the group.  It isn’t a total departure from Adrenaline: the same aggressive plod is heard throughout (and at times a little “samey,” but not too much) and the album is definitely loud, but there are shining moments of maturity from the band that, at this point, the world had not heard.

The slow crooning is slightly more prominent on Around the Fur, for example, and the slower songs are definitely more thought-out and conventionally written.  They don’t fully form into radio-worthy hits until an album later, but through tracks like “Mascara,” the future looks promising.

As I’ve already said, however, the rockers are still there, and that sound progresses more as well.  “Rickets,” for instance, illustrates Deftones’ skill with tempo change; while Adrenaline was mostly the same 4/4 stomp, we hear a different, faster, almost speed-metal side of the group.  This will continue in the next album with the Grammy-winning song “Elite,” but for now, “Rickets” is the experiment with this sound on Around the Fur.

Over time, Deftones thankfully lose the hip-hop sound and move on to more elaborate, sometimes ambient, metal sounds, but they hadn’t quite abandoned it on Around the Fur.  Not that they don’t pull it off – “Head Up” is a definite highlight from this album -a song featuring Max Cavalera, venting with Chino over the death of his step-son, and lyrics inspiring the name for Cavalera’s band, Soulfly.

Overall, Terry Date’s polish helps the band’s sound on Around the Fur, and the band branches out to push more content into their perfected form.  They still maintain their raw energy, however, and their continued improvement was about to reach a surprising peak – and the masses were ready to listen.

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