Album Review: Deftones – ‘Black Stallion’ (‘White Pony’ remixes)

By December 31, 2020 Album, Reviews

Formed in Sacramento California in 1988, the American alternative mental band Deftones has recently released the 20th-anniversary edition of their sensational platinum album ‘White Pony’ with the addition of a bonus disc of remix commissions. This reimagined approach to the deluxe edition of the original record, goes by the name of ‘Black Stallion’ and has been met with immense anticipation as the band has continued to grow since the original release in 2000. With ‘White Pony’ having been received as the band’s finest record to date, the burden of creating a completely new version of such a successful album of its time must have weighed heavy on the band’s shoulders. In collaboration with artists such as Robert Smith of The Cure, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Trevor Jackson, the bombastically diverse record’s release in December has taken the original record to another universe of experimentation. In many ways, ‘Black Stallion’ challenges the fans of Deftones to take a dip into the breaking of musical boundaries.

Whilst some may argue that the remixes are not for everyone, there are at least a couple of examples of creative genius within the collection for example the Robert Smith remix of ‘Teenager’ which takes on the spacey eerie echoes of Smith’s iconic writing style. In some ways, this altercation does not differ entirely from the original which perhaps is what makes it the most accessible remix on the disc. A hauntingly beautiful track amidst what some may argue sounds like a headache, it is to be hoped that this version is not ignored. However, all that glitters is not gold as the same praise cannot be given for the first remix on the record of the song ‘Feiticeira’ which diminishes the celebrated rampant angst from the original track and replaces it with white noise. Remixing a rock or metal track is a feat that many producers struggle to conquer, and it must be said that Clams Casino has a long way to go before he gains the approval of the die-hard fans of Deftones. The creation of white noise seems to be a common theme throughout the collection, as the Blanck Mass remix of the track ‘Elite’ carries the same effect, leaving the listener with the question of ‘What went wrong in the production journey?’.

One would expect that Mike Shinoda, best known as the co-founder of Linkin Park, would produce a remix which beams with the same musical expertise that his music is renowned for; his remixed version of ‘Passenger’ is not as jarring as some of the other tracks but instead monotonous. With the tediously repetitive synth loop used throughout the track, it is impossible to disagree that this version yet again decries the original edition of its spectacularly brilliant ferocious riffs. Remember the feeling of drugged up techno nights in a club that has since disappeared from your memory for the best? The Trevor Jackson remix of the Deftones track ‘Korea’ alongside the Purity Ring remix of the track ‘Knife Prty’ produces the same horrific effect. Why Deftones agreed to let these two tracks take on the new form that they do, one will never be able to fully comprehend. Perhaps both reimagined versions would belong in a new space age dystopian movie as aliens attempt to overthrow planet Earth…or maybe they should just be locked away in some dark abandoned catacomb never to resurface again.

Throughout musical history, the experimental genius of certain artists has always been challenged and met with criticism from some but also hailed as some of the finest works of our generation – take Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Aphex Twin or Muse for example. Although when one listens to the remix of Deftones’ ‘Rx Queen’ taken on by Paul Salva, one must question the thought process of its creator. In fact, it would be interesting – or dreadfully perplexing – to see this version scored out or even worse drawn out on a production software such as Ableton or Logic or whatever program Salva tortured in the creation of his remix. The same can be said for the track ‘Digital Bath’ remixed by DJ Shadow, which appears promising at the beginning of its journey but by the end needs to be shut down to prevent an inevitable migraine.

Whether some may listen to this hell of a ride of a record and completely let go of the original versions to somewhat enjoy their new forms, there is no doubt that they cannot compete with the initial tracks on the stunning album ‘White Pony’. Of course, everyone is open to their own opinions and they will definitely be mixed among the fans of Deftones, but one has to agree that the band has taken a huge leap in releasing ‘Black Stallion’ with the hope of it reaping at least some success. After taking the time to sit and digest the rebirth of the ground-breaking album ‘White Pony’, now presented in the shape of ‘Black Stallion’, it is certainly clear that some records are not meant to be remixed and should instead remain untouched.

Words: Lucy Tessier