"We just had this idea of a sound and we wanted to experiment with that," Deftones' Chino Moreno told us when we recently talked to him about the 20th anniversary of the band's groundbreaking album White Pony. "It was taking a chance, when we were already kind of successful for being a 'metal' leaning act, but it didn't feel uncomfortable. It felt like a natural progression. The confidence that we had in ourselves at the time really led us to open up." The results were career-defining songs like "Change (In the House of Flies)", "Elite" and "Passenger" featuring the guest vocal performance of all guest vocal performances from Tool's Maynard James Keenan. We asked you to vote for your single favorite song from the LP — see below for the ranked results.
In the context of White Pony's wide-ranging swath of guazy sounds, "Elite" sticks out as the album's absolute rager. Screamed verses and layered buzzsaw guitar riffage drive the cut between the peaks of the infectious chorus "You'll bleed out of control!" It's a speaker-breaker and a worthy winner of the 2001 Grammy for Best Metal Performance.
From its catchy opening riff to the thunderous drums to the obtusely sinister lyrics, "Knife Prty" is a fan favorite for obvious reasons. As frontman Chino Moreno whispers, whines and soars, guest vocalist Rodleen Getsic adds unnerving, almost inhuman horror screams, taking the song from hair-raising to heart-stopping — in the best way possible.
Peaking at No. 3 on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart, this rock-radio smash single might be the Deftones' most well-known song, but it hardly represents a watered-down or commercialized version of their sound. To the contrart, between "Change"'s swaying guitar line, diving bass and inescapable earworm chorus, the song is Deftones through and through.
According to Moreno, Tool singer Maynard James Keenan was going to serve as a kind of executive producer for White Pony, but the role didn't stick after Keenan got busy with a new project of his own: A Perfect Circle. MJK's work with Deftones may have been more limited than original envisioned, but the the results are undeniably epic: an all-time classic duet between two top vocalists that still captivates and surprises to this day. That moment when Keenan comes in: "Roll the windows down this/Cool night air is curious ..."
Coming in at the top is one of White Pony's quietest moments: the sultry, underhandedly murderous dream-pop spell-caster "Digital Bath." Ethereal, soaring and soothing (even if it is about electrocution), the song marked a major creative turning point for Deftones, redefining their sonic possibilities and paving the way for White Pony's boundless experimentation. A hard-to-knock pick for No. 1.