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Deftones’ Top 20 Songs

on April 06, 2016, 11:00am
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Many people don’t realize that Deftones have been around since 1988. People categorize them as survivors of the nu metal wave that broke in the late ’90s, but factually they’ve always been something else. Stephen Carpenter’s heavy metal riffs, Chino Moreno’s piercing drawl, and a dash of Frank Delgado’s DJing have always kept the band evolving and adding new sounds to their core. They’ve even managed to survive the tragic 2013 passing of original bassist Chi Cheng, who had spent four years in a coma following an automobile accident. While some of their best work dates back to their debut, their output has remained so consistently strong that even their new record, Gore, cracks this list. Coming up with the 20 best Deftones songs when they’ve had a strong, nearly 30-year career wasn’t easy. Where does your favorite song rank? Does it rank? Read on to find out.

–Dan Bogosian
Contributing Writer

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20. “Doomed User”

Gore (2016)

You know what I love? Hardcore punk and Quicksand. You know bassist Sergio Vega was in Quicksand? Yeah, hasn’t really come through yet in his work with Deftones … until Gore. “Doomed User” is about as straight-punk as Deftones can get, and they nail their landings on this fast, thrilling punk ride. –Dan Bogosian
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19. “Passenger”

White Pony (2000)

White Pony has largely been considered the defining Deftones album, and one of the core reasons is “Passenger”, the primal collaboration between Moreno and Tool’s Maynard James Keenan. Whether the metaphor of being a passenger to someone else’s driver is a dark comment on powerlessness or an avid sex story doesn’t matter. What matters is two of the greatest frontman are at their best, creating this ethereal, dark beast of a song. Deftones didn’t collaborate with outside artists on record much before Pony, and they haven’t collaborated with artists much since, leaving “Passenger” as an amazing outlier. –Dan Bogosian
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18. “Prayers/Triangles”

Gore (2016)

As a huge fan of Moreno’s side project Palms, I had my fingers crossed that Gore would hit that same blissed-out sweet spot, and lead cut “Prayers/Triangles” does just that, opening with a chorused guitar line and a wave of warmth. The atmosphere is that of a California night, comforting and romantic. Give it a listen and the melody will never escape you. –Jon Hadusek
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17. “Swerve City”

Koi No Yokan (2012)

Few things kick ass like a good opening track, and “Swerve City” jump-starts Koi No Yokan like being awoken by a bucket of water. One of the shorter songs on the album, it still captures everything that makes Deftones great: a fist-pumping beat over a detuned thriller of a riff, with Delgado’s keyboards and Vega’s thick basslines dancing all over the space the other band members leave. It feels like they weave around in perfect music right before Chino shouts, “They travel through the air,” creating one of those moments where the music and vocals work hard to create more together than they do individually. It’s brilliant. –Dan Bogosian
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16. “Feiticeira”

White Pony (2000)


Although my introduction to Deftones isn’t nearly as priceless as Dan’s anecdote later in this article, I totally understand why “Feitceira” wooed me back when I first heard. “This sounds like Radiohead,” I remember thinking, and at the time, anything that reminded me of Radiohead was an A-fucking-plus in my book. The rest is history. I picked up a copy of White Pony and now I’m calling them one of my favorite bands and writing this article. Looking back, it’s less that the song sounds like Radiohead, but rather it sounds like nothing I’d ever heard before — the same effect Radiohead’s music had on me when I first encountered it. That said, both bands belong in the same vein as pioneers of guitar music throughout the ’90s and 2000s, and I refuse to believe I’m the only one to draw that comparison upon hearing Deftones for the first time. –Jon Hadusek
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