“Metal at its best…”: Our original 1997 review of Deftones’ Around The Fur

On October 28, 1997, Deftones released their incendiary second album Around The Fur and heavy music was never the same again…

“Metal at its best…”: Our original 1997 review of Deftones’ Around The Fur
Paul Brannigan

If anger is indeed an energy, as that flame-haired king of sneer John Lydon would have us believe, then we might as well abolish British Nuclear Fuel and start investing in the Deftones right now.

The Sacramento quartet are the tightest-wound ball of sound and fury in modern metal, one huge setting burst of pure distilled rage. Listening to their fabulous debut album Adrenaline felt like being dragged down a side street and beaten soundly around the head with baseball bats. Now, with Around The Fur, vocalist Chino Moreno and co. are upping the aggro even further, reaching into the back pockets for flick-knives and thumb screws just for fun. Resistance is futile.

It’s not always clear what exactly Chino is railing against on Around The Fur. His vocals are submerged under lashings of snarling guitar, and the man himself sounds as if he’s foaming at the mouth. But like Korn’s Jonathan Davis, you know that even when Chino is saying nothing he’s saying something, venomous words tripping over themselves as they surge from between his lips. And you won’t hear a better vocal performance all year, as the whispering, shrieking Chino takes you on a rollercoaster ride in and out of his personal hell.

Please don’t fuck around,’ he roars on the albums’s title-track, and the Deftones don’t from start to finish here. My Own Summer (Shove It) is an outstanding opening statement of intent, stripped-down verses colliding with a monster chorus while Chino takes RATM’s defiant ‘Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me’ sentiment and condenses it into the blunt, persistent demand ‘Shove it’. Lhabia and Mascara – with their dirty, distorted drones and spacious, ringing riffs – eschew traditional soft-loud dynamism and build tension with slow-burning build-ups threatening to boil over into atonal chaos at any given moment. Around The Fur itself is electrifying and terrifying, relentless staccato riffing prodding you to lose yourself deep in its frenzy.

There is little respite from the Deftones’ incisive attack – not that they’re one-dimensional in any way, but even the quieter moments pulse with menace. Ricketts sees Chino accepting criticism with the sneering response ‘You’re probably right’, while Be Quiet thuds along with two vocal lines battling for space between great bouncy riffs. Lotion is an almighty tangle of guitar crunch and undulating rhythms, and listening to Dai The Flu and Head Up you’d swear 10 guitarists were locked in the recording booth (the latter also featuring Max Cavalera’s first post-sepulture recorded outing). MX, the album’s closer, is confessional and edgy, a subdued Chino whispering out his pain to a coaxing female confidant. Top.

Around The Fur is metal at its best: brutal, raw and unforgiving, unafraid to bare its soul and display its intelligence. Make space in your CD rack now.

Verdict: 5/5

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