RELEASED: 3 OCTOBER 1995
quarter of a century ago, Madonna founded Maverick Records.
Three years later the legendary pop songwriter’s label released
the maiden LP by Sacramento quintet Deftones and with it
allowed one of the crowning achievements of nu metal to see the light
Deftones’ members were aged 22-25 when they recorded Adrenaline.
However, they’d already been together for 7 years and many of the 11
songs to feature on the album had been written at the early part of the
band’s career. Unsurprisingly, the record seethes with youthful energy.
Despite this, Adrenaline begins (quite literally) in muted tones.
Opener Bored rings with tantalising simplicity, its riff plucked from the
sky then left to gasp for breath under the heel of Stephen Carpenter’s
guitar. Though it changes little, it grips your attention throughout. In
no small part, this is down to the captivating voice of Chino Moreno.
At one moment soothing, airy, and ethereal, while at the next it is
possessed with a throat ripping rage. Moreno has a near perfect grasp
of his range.
It’s this combination of brutally, brilliantly simple riffs and cathartic,
contrastive vocals that define Adrenaline, and it doesn’t let up from the
first moment until its close. Following Bored are the sublime Minus
Blindfold and One Weak, each full of delicious, crunchy riffs and
Moreno’s caustic screams, and the thumping Lifter. While Nosebleed
is a bruising post-hardcore driven stunner.
The album’s centrepiece is its first single. While much of the LP
boils and then blisters, 7 Words takes Moreno’s rage to another level
entirely. Squashed by authority and white society, he’s volcanic. And
his bandmates follow his lead; Chi Cheng’s bass is the deceptive calm
that lets Abe Cunningham’s drums pound you to the floor, while
Moreno sears your flesh and Carpenter rips it from the bones with
But there’s still plenty of quality left after 7 Words has thudded out
of sight. Birthmark is moody and soaring, Engine No. 9 ripping and
vicious, Fireal epic and thundering, while the closing hidden track First
is esoteric and droning.
If truth be told, Deftones always seemed to have a much stronger
post-hardcore influence than most of the nu metal groups they were
lumped together with and Adrenaline makes it plain that this was the
case all along.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if this album doesn’t ever feature in a best
of list, or classic album summary, but that’s the point. It’s a brilliantly
underrated record that is a near perfect expression of rage-drenched
alt-metal and an album that should be treasured for its quality.