Having escaped the nu-metal scene and becoming one of the most respectable alternative metal bands ever, Deftones success has always been through their marriage of different styles and influences – alt rock, down-tuned metal, shoegaze, post-hardcore and electronica – Deftones are a true melting pot of genres. After over three decades as a group, they continue to be massively successful act that manages to continuously have top 10 albums and sell out arenas across the planet.
They have written some of the best and biggest metal tracks from the mid-90s onwards, and with nine full lengths to their name, there is a whole host of forgotten Deftones songs that fans overlook. With the band finally on the road to support their excellent 2020 release Ohms, now is a good a time as ever to go digging for some Deftones‘ best deep cuts!
Tucked away at the end of Diamond Eyes, “976-EVIL” is a great song who’s only sin is that it’s on an album packed with arguably even greater material. It has undoubtedly been overshadowed, and more or less ignored by the band – having been only played once during a live stream back in 2010, where the five-piece performed Diamond Eyes in it’s entirety. But don’t let this lack of recognition fool you, “976-EVIL” has all of the classic Deftones hallmarks – dreamy guitars, low tuned grooves and killer chorus. A very underrated and very strong track to kick off our list.
Taken from 2006’s tension-fuelled Saturday Night Wrist, “Combat” is a Deftones’ song that rarely gets mentioned – or played live for that matter, only seeing the stage once. The album it’s lifted from is a bit of a mixed bag, containing some of the most diverse and restrained material the band has released to date. “Combat” takes well over a minute to begin, but once the introductory soundscapes pass and track kicks in, it packs some powerful riffs and a light and airy chorus. Despite going through some personal challenges during the LP’s recording process, frontman Chino Moreno’s cleans and screams are as strong and gripping as ever.
“Damone” is essentially a product of bygone time – the hidden track at the end of CD. This practise basically died off when the digital age took over the music industry, but back in the 90s it served as a nice bonus for diehard fans willing to sit through (or fast forward) 20+ minutes of silence. Tacked onto the end of Deftones‘ sophomore classic Around The Fur – after album closer-proper “MX” – “Damone” is a great heavy song, wrought with emotion and power. It could have easily been slotted in anywhere else on Around The Fur – and why it didn’t is unknown. The truest definition of a deep cut and straight-up one of the best hidden tunes in metal.
Another hidden song, this time from Deftones’ debut release Adrenaline. Album finale “Fist” was curiously produced by nu-metal Svengali Ross Robinson, instead of Terry Date who handled the rest of the record. While a fair chunk of Adrenaline heavily leans into angst-ridden alternative/nu metal, “Fist” has almost a post-rock style structure and vibe to it, with no real chorus or verses to speak of. It’s an interesting tune to wrap up their debut with, but also a sign of the experimentation and outside influences the band would embrace across their lengthy career.
“Gauze” is one of two tunes from the excellent Koi No Yokan never to be performed live, which is a real surprise as it’s such an excellent track. The 2012 record saw Deftones go from strength to strength, and it has some top-tier material – so understandably not everything is going to make it to the live stage. Still, “Gauze” is a fantastic piece of music that does not get talked about enough – Stef Carpenters’ eight-string guitars are in full-effect, but the atmosphere and ambience is never lost, even during the during the crushing outro. Plus it has an absolutely transcendent chorus that lifts it to the next level. A great song from a brilliant later-day Deftones’ album.
Closing Deftones’ self-titled fourth record, “Moana” is a tremendous, forgotten track from arguably the band’s most underrated LP. The big wall of guitars and Abe Cunningham’s pushing yet grooving drums fit right in with the rest of Deftones vibe, while Moreno’s vocals float over the top adding layers of emotion. It’s a great way to close the proceedings, but probably due to it’s positioning it’s sadly been overlooked, with tracks like “Hexagram” and “Minerva” taking all the limelight. A real under appreciated Deftones gem.
One of Deftones’ least metal, yet important, influences is British pop rock group Duran Duran. Interestingly, their B-Side & Rarities collection contains two Duran Duran covers – “The Chauffeur” appears on the album-proper, however our featured song “Night Boat” is only available on the iTunes exclusive edition – meaning it ain’t on the CD or other streaming platforms. Our guys stick close to the original’s composition, only turning up the heaviness and bringing the production into the modern age (at least by 2005’s standards). The moody original track coverts very well with Deftones’ sound, and is no surprise that the band had covered it a couple of times live way back in 1996.
For many Deftones fans – this scribe included – 2016’s Gore was a bit of an underwhelming album. Eight full lengths deep at this point, it just felt it wasn’t as strong as their previous material, but there are still some stand out moments to be found. “Pittura Infamante” (translating literally into ‘defaming portrait’) crops up halfway through the record, and packs some octave-heavy guitar work (more than likely from both Moreno and Carpenter) and a drum groove that builds in complexity as the song progresses. The band has pulled out most of the tracks from Gore to play live, but “Pittura Infamante” has stayed locked away.
One of the most famous unreleased albums in the history of rock music, Deftones’ Eros is seemingly destined to never be completed. Having put the LP on hold after Chi Cheng’s serious automotive accident in 2008, from which complications tragically claimed his life in 2013, the only track that has come to light from the shelved release is “Smile”. It’s a strongly post-hardcore influenced piece of music, with lots of atmospheric guitars and a slower-mid paced feel. The song was released online for the one year anniversary of Cheng’s passing as a tribute to their late bandmate; however controversy ensued when, for whatever boneheaded reason, it was pulled by Warner Brothers for copyright reasons.
A number from the much lauded White Pony, “The Boy’s Republic” was only released on certain editions of the CD – chiefly the red and black cover editions, as opposed to the more commonly available grey and white. The song is indicative of the sound that band had moulded on the White Pony, big drums and chord driven guitar riffs, with highly emotive and passionate vocals. Much like a lot of other bonus tracks, it’s not available on Spotify and other streaming services, but Deftones’ fans are highly advised to hunt “The Boy’s Republic” down. Plus there is a impressive acoustic version found on the Music In High Places DVD that came out in 2002 that is also worth checking out.
How did we go? With nine albums, over a 100 original songs and lots of interesting covers, there is more than an ample amount of Deftones’ tracks that could be deemed as deep cuts – so what else is could have made our list? Let us know in the comments below!
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