The Deftones Turn It Up to a Slow Roar

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

If you're looking for a metal band to help calm your nerves, the Deftones are still the one. The veteran quintet's numbing, soft-focus din is still distinctly pleasurable, as evidenced by a performance at the 9:30 club Monday that melded songs from a decade's worth of albums into a singular, anesthetic roar.

They also get extra credit for surviving the '90s nu-metal craze with their dignity intact. Much of that is due to singer Chino Moreno, whose cryptic lyrics and emotive wails have always countered his band's muscular riffage in mysterious ways. Clad in T-shirt, cutoffs and jacked-up tube socks, Moreno drenched his vocals in digital effects, his moans, groans and shrieks echoing over the bombast like an instrument in and of itself.

His band mates responded with a monochromatic and ear-splitting haze -- early singles including "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)" sounded not dissimilar to new tunes such as "Hole in the Earth." "Minerva" was a delightful, slow-motion blast so deliberately paced that excited moshers could only sway and lean into one another.

Equally plodding: "Change (In the House of Flies)," the band's biggest hit. It felt even slower than usual, oozing out of the amplifiers like molten sludge. It was the best song of the Deftones' set, but "Hexagram" was the most telling. Over the billowing riffage Moreno sang: "It's the same sound."

-- Chris Richards

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