Deftones - Around the Fur
Maverick Records
Alternative Metal
10 songs (74:00)
Release year: 1997
Deftones, Maverick Records
Reviewed by Tyler
Archive review

For some of us, it takes a hell of a lot of “buzz” surrounding a band for us to give them a listen. We may hear about “this band’s epic return to form” or “that band’s triumphant ascension to the top of the metal world”, but some metal heads, such as myself, require a hefty amount of motivation and prodding to check out bands that we have never heard of. This goes doubly for older bands whose prime may have come before we were old enough to appreciate them; bands whose names have often entered our consciousness but who have not yet grown a big enough interest for us to spring into action and give them an honest listen, despite any accolades and acclaim we may have heard. However, if there was going to be any band in 2010 that grabbed me by the hair and forced my undivided attention, it had to be the Deftones. If you are unaware of the recent tragedy that has befallen the 20-plus year old Sacramento band, you probably haven’t been paying much attention; longtime bass player Chi Cheng was involved in a terrible car accident in November of 2008, and has been in a coma ever since. Some wondered if the band could carry on at all. Yet they did, and after recruiting former Quicksand bassist Sergio Vega to fill in for Chi, the band released the excellent Diamond Eyes in May of 2010.

You may be wondering why I am talking about recent Deftones history when this is a review for Around the Fur, and album released by the band in 1997. The reason I bring all of this up is that without the tremendous amount of buzz surrounding the band of late, I would not have gotten interested in the band, and I would not have noticed that, unbeknownst to me, in my very possession, was the Deftones’ sophomore release, Around the Fur. Here is the story: a while back, my aunt gave me a collection of CDs she acquired in the 90s. You can imagine my utter shock when I opened up the black binder and found albums from bands like Type O Negative, Slayer, Pantera, Soulfly, and Megadeth, among others. One day, after reading an article about the Deftones and the great expectations for their upcoming album, it suddenly dawned on me that I had seen a Deftones CD lying around somewhere recently. I went into my aunt’s black binder, and sure enough, I found it: a copy of Around the Fur, still in great condition. After giving the album a listen and hearing the first two tracks released from the new album, I had all the motivation I needed to go out and buy Diamond Eyes, and from there on I was officially a fan of the Deftones.

Now we travel back in time, to 1997, to Around the Fur. Nu Metal was all the rage, with bands like Korn and Rage Against the Machine rising fast, former thrash heroes Slayer and Machine Head dipping their hands into the new trend and loosing fans fast, and Fred Durst just beginning his rise to the throne of Biggest Douche Bag Ever. However tied to the scene, and Korn in particular, Deftones at first appeared, they were and have always been a band that has defied the genre. In fact, while their debut album Adrenaline had many of Nu Metal’s characteristics, by Around the Fur, the band had almost completely abandoned any signs of such trendiness. On the album, the band begins in earnest the ambient experimentation that truly manifested itself on the band’s next album, White Pony.

If you haven’t listened to the band before, the Deftones sound may be a bit perplexing at first. In contrast to other bands of the 1997 “scene” (Limp Bizkit, Korn), the Deftones actually display a very reserved sound. All of the songs feature heavily down-tuned guitars and screaming, but thanks to frontman Chino Moreno’s soft croon, the songs never enter the unrestrained, over-angst of bands like Korn. The songs aren’t particularly catchy, as Around the Fur shows a band not quite come into its own. However, this particular album is when the band began to master the heavy and light or “light and dark” sound that they later mastered like few other bands. Frank Delgado provides the electronics and samplings that add a creepy, atmospheric feeling to the songs that few, if any other bands, of the Nu Metal age achieved. Moreno’s vocals are something of an acquired taste, as they are frequently hidden behind numerous shades of vocal distortion, something that I believe adds to the unsettling vibes of the album. His vocals range from a nice croon to a desperate scream, and with the creative use of distortion, there are plenty of vocal dynamics to enjoy throughout the album. Guitarist Stephen Carpenter’s riffs are solid and interesting, if a little simplistic, and the drums of Abe Cunningham and the bass of Chi Cheng are both simplistic and unique, and contriubute consistently interesting rhythms to the songs.

Before I rap up this review let me bring a few small, interesting details to light. Max Cavalera, of Sepultura and Soulfly fame, makes an appearance on the excellent song Headup, which coincidentally is where Max got the name for the band Soulfly. Also, the last song on the album, MX, is over 37 minutes long, even though the actual song is only about five minutes long. At 19:30 of the song, there is a short section called Bong Hit (guess what it is), and at around 32:35 there is actually another short song called Damone. Why the band chose to do this and stretch it out over a nearly half hour length of silence, I will never know, but I would check it out, all the same.

Deftones are a great off-the-beaten-path type band, as they combine accessibility and heaviness with an almost indie sense of experimentation, and they do it flawlessly and uniquely. Fans of literally every genre of music could potentially find some enjoyment in the band, as they are one of the most eclectic and unique bands I have heard in awhile; throughout the bands discography, clear influences of everything from metal, hip-hop, jazz, industrial, hardcore, and gothic can be heard, all pulled off in a unique way that never comes of as trendy or forced. If there is an album to start experiencing the Deftones with, it may be Around the Fur, as it is an album that represented a turning point for the band. The songs weren’t as strong as they could have been, but they were nevertheless great songs that were a clear indication of what was to come. And if their recent triumph Diamond Eyes is any indication, this is a band that will stay on peoples’ radars for awhile, so it would be wise to educate yourself on all things Deftones soon.

Killing Songs :
My Own Summer (Shove It), Around the Fur, Rickets, Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away), Headup
Tyler quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Deftones that we have reviewed:
Deftones - Gore reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Deftones - Koi No Yokan reviewed by Khelek and quoted 87 / 100
Deftones - Diamond Eyes reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Deftones - Deftones reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Deftones - Saturday Night Wrist reviewed by Al and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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