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Deftones
Artist: Deftones
Label: Maverick
Length: 11 tracks, 47:14 minutes

Is there such a genre as “recovering-Catholic rock”? If there is, Deftones would surely lead the field, as they do pretty much in the shoe-gazing department of the nu-metal genre today. 

By combining cavernous, atmospheric distortion, and the soaring moans and screams of vocalist 
Chino Moreno, Deftones create cathartic soundscapes of light and shade, pain and healing, love and hate that echo through the soul like a depth-charge explosion. 

Throughout their four album discography, Deftones lyrics have consistently displayed a strong religious awareness amidst the often obscure and convoluted imagery exploring relationships and their life experience. 

As an ex-Catholic, Moreno admits openly that he gave up this faith a long time ago. But for someone who says he doesn’t believe in Christ, he seems to be constantly wrestling with the idea of Jesus as Savior and other deep impressions left from an oppressive religious upbringing.

However, if the bonus footage on this enhanced CD is anything to go by, the Deftones mostly smoke weed, drink beer and shoot bourbon to assist in that recovery from Catholicism. Nonetheless, the music is still the focus of the self-deprogramming. 

The album leads of with the discordant rocker “Hexagram”, with a curious repeating chorus, in parenthesis below: 

Paint the streets in white
Death is the standard breach for a complex prize
I think it’s sweet of you and your parents are proud
But I would expect it from anyone now to protect life’s indigenous sound. 
(Worship. Play. Worship. Play. Worship. Play. Worship. Play)
And the crowd goes wild and the camera makes you seasick
God, it’s so sweet of you and I know you’re proud
While it’s almost impossible to extract a clear meaning out of the lyrical collage in any of these songs, the hints are encouraging. The hexagram, otherwise known as the Star of David, or Solomon’s Seal, is perhaps a latent image of the God that Moreno still connects with, which calls him to “worship and play” his music. The nuances of this idea are picked up again in the following track, confronting another religious image of his past: 
Come fall in love with the sound
Make a pact to each to each other when no-one’s around
Put the cross between you and me
Who wants to f*** with us now. 
(“Needles and Pins”) 
The lead single from the album, “Minerva”, (the name of the Roman goddess of wisdom) follows, and is at once, a sad yet uplifting emo-rock anthem, very musically reminiscent of the first single from their previous album, White Pony, with it’s lush, growling ambience. The chorus again comes across as a cry for divine connection. 
God bless you all for the song you saved us
For the hearts you break every time you moan
I get all numb … it brings our knees to the earth
The musical style doesn’t vary much until track eight, a sparse, electronica groove completely devoid of any guitar heaviness, the imagery of which again picks up on the quest for salvation: 
I keep waiting. Won’t somebody save me?
And if you’re feeling lucky, come and take me home
And if you feel loved, you’ve crossed the walls
Excelled further along through their hell, all for my heart
I watch you kill. You always have, you always will. 
Now spread your wings and sail out to me. 
(“Lucky You”) 
And again in the next track …
We must be the first ones to fall off the earth
It could be soon as the carnival is empty
I need you to take me home … God help. 
(“Bloody Cape”)
The tender, ambient, piano-tinged ballad “Anniversary of an Uninteresting Event” follows, and is the emotional high-point of the album as a truly heart-rending lament for a lost happy memory.  Interestingly, it concludes with the words, “To Nadja, love Jesus” in the lyric sheet, though not in the vocal. 

I imagine if P.O.D. were not believing Christians, they might sound just like Deftones. However, that’s not to say that the former is better simply for having a slightly more positive outlook on life. Who knows, if the Deftones guys keep making music as transcendent as this latest offering, they may just find the healing they are so clearly looking for. Wish them well, and in the meantime, enjoy their blissful mayhem. 

Brendan Boughen  6/15/2003

   
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