Is Deftones nü-metal? The short answer is "they used to be." The long answer is a little more complicated. In this writer's opinion, Deftones has certainly gotten away from the traditional nü-metal sound of their 1995 debut album Adrenaline, but they've certainly retained that nü-bounce over the years. You sit there and tell me songs like "Swerve City" from Koi No Yokan or "Genesis" from Ohms don't feel at least influenced by the genre.
Jesus Piece guitarist David Updike and drummer Luis Aponte weighed in with their own thoughts in an interview with the Nu Pod podcast, echoing similar sentiments.
"Deftones are not nü-metal," said Updike. "I will die on that hill. I feel like, I see people… I don't know, people have fought, like pushed back on it. [Their] first record, I will say it's a nü-metal record, but I don't think they're a nü-metal band.
"'Cause if you take Saturday Night Wrist, and a good majority of White Pony and… honestly I'm not gonna name all their records. But the point is, outside of Adrenaline and 'Back To School'… How are you going to tell me like 'Cherry Waves' sounds like Coal Chamber — I don't know any of their songs — but I'm saying that stuff. I mean I don't hate nü-metal, but that's not my thing. [Luis and I] both like System Of A Down and Deftones, Slipknot… the usual suspects.
"When you kinda get down to it, even like the biggest… I mean [Korn's] 'Freak On A Leash' or [Slipknot's] 'Eyeless'—any of these songs. How are you gonna tell me that any Deftones song—even off of Adrenaline [sound likes them?]
Aponte then added: "He's a bigger Deftones fan than me, but I will say this: I agree with both sides. Because I think it's less about calling Deftones a 'nü-metal' band and [more about] boxing them in as a nü-metal band. Because they're so broad, and they have so many different types of sounds, and interesting… they're amazing musicians. And I feel like nü-metal is very limiting sounding."
Updike continued: "I think that they're their own band. There's not… Other than that new band Loathe that came out, everyone's tried to do it, but they can't, and it's their own thing. That's why nü-metal to me is not the right descriptor. They have things, but overall I don't think they're a nü-metal band."