Top 20 Deftones Songs

With the upcoming release of ‘Gore’, the eighth studio album by Alternative Metal legends and my favourite band of all-time, Deftones, I thought it’d be as good a time as any to celebrate their extensive discography. What are your favourite Deftones tunes? Feel free to argue with me and hey, if you aren’t familiar with the band, you can use this as a great point of reference.

20. Hole In the Earth
from ‘Saturday Night Wrist’ (2006)
This is a strange track in the context of the band’s discography, with its approachable veneer hiding some of the darkest themes they’ve ever tackled. Written during the peak of mounting dissatisfaction within the band, it acts like a window into their relationships as the spiral into dysfunction. Chino’s refrain of “I hate all of my friends” gliding over the top of Stephen’s sparkling guitars and Abe’s brilliant drum performance is truly haunting.

19. Hexagram
from ‘Deftones’ (2003)
As the opener to their dark as hell Self-Titled album (more on that later) which was the follow-up to their hugely successful album ‘White Pony’, ‘Hexagram’ was fan’s first taste of what the band had in store and is almost the antithesis of what a single of this nature is expected to be. Featuring jarring time signature switch-ups that highlighted the competency of Abe Cunningham a thousand-fold alongside Chino Moreno putting in some of his most visceral shrieks so far; ‘Hexagram’ is a challenging track in all the best ways.

18. Korea
From ‘White Pony’ (2000)
As one of the punchier cuts from ‘White Pony’, ‘Korea’ features a deliciously crunchy riff that saw the band implementing their Nu-Metal past excellently. The hard/soft dynamics which Deftones are so revered for are very much in play on this track, as the verses slowly build to the frantic chorus. Lyrically it is shrouded in that thin layer of dark ambiguity that has held fan interest for years, reaching a sonic climax on the bridge as Chino roars “IT’S YOURS”.

17. Passenger
From ‘White Pony’ (2000)
A duet between Chino Moreno and Maynard James Keenan seems like a dangerous idea on paper. Melding these two, frankly, amazing vocalists into one track could only lead to disappointment in the face of looming fan expectations. But no, somehow Deftones pulled this off spectacularly well with the sultry ‘Passenger’ as Chino and Maynard detail a pretty steamy automotive encounter with a breathy delivery over an excellent riff.

16. Sextape
From ‘Diamond Eyes’ (2010)
One of the band’s most ambient and intimate tracks, this was a sex song they’d never tried before. In fact, calling a sex song seems inappropriate; this is a straight-up love making jam. “The sound of the waves collide” Chino sings on the chorus and somehow the band manage to emulate that exact feeling. The track builds off huge crescendos that reach dizzying heights with brilliant performances all round.

15. Pink Maggit
From ‘White Pony’ (2000)
The epic closer which was later rewritten into Deftones’ most unanimously reviled single ever (Back to School isn’t that bad though guys), the original composition is by far the best version though. With an ominous and generally unsettling opening few minutes, the song properly kicks into gear with one of the best climaxes the bands ever written. With the rousing guitars and deceptively triumphant sounding but secretly depraved lyrics, “Pink Maggit” was a suitably dissonant closer to the bands most popular album.

14. Elite
From ‘White Pony’ (2000)
Not quite the heaviest song Deftones have ever written (we’ll get there soon) but “Elite” is a straight-up savage tune nonetheless. Chino’s primal barks paired with Stephen’s excellent guitar groove make this track a jumpdafuckup necessity and a live show staple for Deftones. The evil tone of the track is intriguing as well, the constant repetition of “when you’re ripe, you’ll bleed out of control” and the heavily distorted vocoder vocals just add to the repressive atmosphere.

13. Beauty School
From ‘Diamond Eyes’ (2010)
If you ever doubted the crossover appeal of Deftones then you need to give this massive single a whirl. With Abe’s Hip-Hop inspired eccentricities driving the track with a groovy drum beat that flows immaculately while Chino also puts in one of his best vocal performances ever. The way the song moves into its thunderous chorus from its fairly low-key verses is a thing of beauty and “you’re shooting stars from the barrel of your eyes” is easily one of the band’s most memorable lines.

12. Rosemary
From ‘Koi No Yokan’ (2012)
One of the many massive epics from the band’s most recent effort and probably the most grandiose composition they’ve ever put together. “Time we discover the entry to other planes” Chino wails as Sergio and Stephen seemingly tear a hole into the astral plane with their huge bass and guitar. For a track which features such heavy instrumentation, ‘Rosemary’ is absolutely gorgeous more than it is crushing. The first half of the outro is so delicious as well hot damn.

11. Minerva
From ‘Deftones’ (2003)
‘Minerva’ is one of the best examples of Deftones’ ability to craft a perfect song driven on atmosphere and mood alone. The slow tempo and washed out sound of the instrumentation fit perfectly with the super melancholy lyricism and vocal performance (your Morrissey is showing Chino). It all culminates into a dazed but beautiful single with one of the band’s most strangely memorable hooks, “so God bless you all, for the song you saved… us… all”.

10. This Place is Death
From ‘Diamond Eyes’ (2010)
From the moment Chino’s refrains and Stephen’s guitars burst into the mix, you know this closer is going to be something special. The way every facet of this song fluctuates, Chino’s voice fading from the front to the back of the mix and the huge instrumental distinction between verse and chorus creates a unique feeling of euphoria. Unlike ‘Sextape’, this is a sex song, with Chino’s manic imagery depicting what sounds like an encounter with a Succubus.

9. Change (In the House of Flies)
From ‘White Pony’ (2000)
Still the band’s biggest hit to date and a single that could easily be considered one of the best songs of the 2000’s, to fans unfamiliar with Deftones’ brand of moody Alt. Metal “Change” served as the perfect starting point. With lyrics chronicling the progression of someone’s downward spiral, “I watched a change in you, it’s like you never had wings”, ‘Change’ is uncompromisingly dark and grants no reprieve from its unsettling atmosphere with Chino’s whispered vocals and Stephen’s droning guitars driving the track.

8. When Girls Telephone Boys
From ‘Deftones’ (2003)
Now this is Deftones’ heaviest track ever. Reminiscent of Converge’s 2001 classic ‘Jane Doe’, ‘When Girls Telephone Boys’ sees Chino describing what seems like Satan in the form of an ex-lover, while still maintaining the band’s cryptic lyricism of course. Chino’s terrifyingly brutal screams and lyrics like “something’s wrong with you, well I hope we never do meet again” make for one of the most raw and emotionally vulnerable tracks the band have ever released. It also stands as a testament to the risks they took with their Self-Titled effort.

7. Diamond Eyes
From ‘Diamond Eyes’ (2010)
How better to introduce fans to the new deep eight-string guitar tone and generally more ethereal sound of the band’s first album after the tragic loss of bassist Chi Cheng, then with this absolutely monstrous single. Throughout much of Deftones’ discography you can observe a clear conflict between the heavier sounds preferred by Stephen Carpenter and the sleeker, 80’s-inspired stylings preferred by Chino Moreno. This conflict has led to the dynamic sound the band is revered for. It is the absence of this conflict however, that makes the opening title-track of ‘Diamond Eyes’ so perfect.

6. My Own Summer (Shove It)
From ‘Around The Fur’ (1997)
Yes, finally something from ‘Around The Fur’. Featuring one the most menacing guitars lines you will ever hear, ‘My Own Summer’ was one of the many tracks on this album that showed the world that Deftones were not content with simply being lumped in with the Nu-Metal trend. Sure, there’s the obligatory heavy chorus (and we all love you for it Deftones don’t worry) but much of the track rooted in that sinister guitar line and Chino’s hushed voice, foreshadowing the excellent mood building the band would perfect later down the line.

5. Cherry Waves
From ‘Saturday Night Wrist’ (2006)
The unsung hero of much of Deftones’ best work is keyboardist/turntablist Frank Delgado. While Deftones are an impeccable group of performers, strip away the textures and subtle details Frank adds and you’d be surprised how much the songs suffer. ‘Cherry Waves’ is definitive proof of this, with the simple keyboard line that drones at the back of the mix complementing the rest of the band so perfectly. Frank adds the final, defining piece to what is one of the bands most lush and beautiful compositions ever.

4. Tempest
From ‘Koi No Yokan’ (2012)
Christ, where to begin with this monstrous track. Perhaps the pinnacle of Sergio Vega-era Deftones so far, ‘Tempest’ is a sluggish behemoth of a track that personifies the beauty and the beast dynamics of the band. Featuring one of Stephen’s heaviest riffs ever and the best production work the band have ever had, this track is an aural journey. Only Chino Moreno could write a Galactic fuck track so eloquently, “turning in circles, been caught in a stasis, the ancient arrival, cut to the end”. ‘Tempest’ is another example of both Stephen and Chino’s vision of the band melding together, and it is glorious.

3. Digital Bath
From ‘White Pony’ (2000)
Back to the crowing jewel of the band’s discography and to a very different kind of track. Much like ‘Minerva’, ‘Digital Bath’ finds greatness in its unshakeable mood and atmosphere. But why is ‘Minerva’ down there and this is up here? Well it all comes down to execution; Chino’s lyrics tell such a graphic and vivid story with very little detail while Abe’s brilliant drums lead the way once again. “Tonight, I feel like more”, the line is so simple but in the context of the song it says so much. “You breathed, then you stopped, I breathed, and dried you off.”

2. Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
From ‘Around the Fur’ (1997)
Deftones very rarely write traditionally “happy” songs but while ‘Be Quiet and Drive’ is still draped in melancholic touches, at its core is a simple but amazingly potent ode to escapism. With barely any instrumental or lyrical change-ups the track has one of the most basic structures the band has ever used and yet, it’s one of their most beloved tracks by fans including myself (obviously). A simple drum groove, a simple riff and some simple lyrics that seem to imply so much more than what they initially let on, culminate to form a track that will resonate with anyone who has ever wanted to just get the fuck out of whatever situation they’re in.

1. Knife Prty
From ‘White Pony’ (2000)
Lying on the ceiling and watching the furniture in the room float weightlessly around you; running to the point of absolute exhaustion and feeling your body cave in on itself; slicing your wrists and letting the blood gush from the wound as your vision clouds and you get your final burst of adrenaline before death. These are all sensations ‘Knife Prty’ brings forth with its vague imagery and cohesive instrumental drive. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes ‘Knife Prty’ the best Deftones song of all time, in many ways it just combines everything great about the tracks below it into one, perfect track. The mixture of violent and sexual themes in Chino’s lyrics, that incredible shrieking bridge that extends onto the outro and just the pure elation you get from hearing Deftones working as a unit are all just parts of what make ‘Knife Prty’ a masterpiece.

So that’s just about it, I wonder if any tracks from ‘Gore’ will etch their way onto here? And if they do, where will they place? With a band as insanely consistent as Deftones, a new number one is never out of the discussion.

*While the content is very different, I better acknowledge that I decided to do this piece as a response to the great list Consequence of Sound posted today, which you should also check out.
The Top 20 Deftones Songs


3 thoughts on “Top 20 Deftones Songs

  1. This is a really great list…I’d love to choose my favourite but I just can’t! Although I’d say Xerces from Saturday Night Wrist is definitely up there in my top 5!


    1. Thank you so much it took an ungodly amount of time to put together haha, yeah I’ve heard other people say Xerces is a favourite and funnily enough SNW is my favourite Deftones album so it’s odd I didn’t get more tracks from it. I think it’s because it is better as a whole than it is when separated into individual tracks, such a gravitating mood all over that whole album I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

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