ALBUM REVIEW: Deftones – Black Stallion

Release Date: December 11th 2020
Label: Reprise Records


Only a band like Deftones could drop one of the best projects of their career, nine albums deep, within the same year that they celebrate the twentieth anniversary of yet another of their definitive works.

‘Ohms’ may be their best since ‘Diamond Eyes’, but two decades ago ‘White Pony’ shook people. It was dark, dirty, sexy, and noisy in all the nastiest yet welcoming ways. In all that time, frontman Chino Moreno and his illustrious cohorts have kicked around the idea of a remix album, even tapping long-time peer DJ Shadow to perhaps spearhead production on such a project.

Here is where we arrive at ‘Black Stallion’, a remix based collection that retools and sonically re-imagines each and every cut of its classic counterpart in dense electronic fashion.

It’s clear from the outset that these tracks are far from any basic, standard remixes; they’re rather mutated audible forms catering to their collaborating presence. Clams Casino‘s ambient reworking of iconic opener ‘Feiticeira’, as well as the meandering re-purposing of ‘Digital Bath’ by DJ Shadow, are quite an underwhelming start that really don’t live up to the potential or hype which they had accrued upon initial announcement.

That being said, by the time the head-melting Blanck Mass remix of ‘Elite’ kicks in and re-packages the original’s seething aggression as a death-rave banger, a clearer pattern begins to reveal itself.

Moreno‘s menacing whisper-croon on ‘Rx Queen’ is shifted and warped by Salva over a kaleidoscopic bevvy of glitching drum and bass, while you could always count on Robert Smith of The Cure to turn ‘Teenager’ into an even more haunting, minimal, and starkly beautiful experience than its original version.

The Purity Ring mix of ‘Knife Prty’ may be the closest you’ll come to any traditional remix, expanding the chorus into a glossy, ethereal electro-hook, while Mike Shinoda deserves a medal for finally giving the world its first true glimpse of what Maynard James Keenan can sound like with thumping electronica shrouding his immense vocal takes on ‘Passenger’.

Moreno has been quoted that he feels only a niche amount of people outside of themselves will fully appreciate and enjoy this experiment for what it truly is, which feels more like a mutual love-letter between artists, sharing their material and gifts with one another in the most respectful, earnest and creative of manners.

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