This has been a landmark year for Deftones, having released the critically acclaimed Ohms and having celebrated the 20th anniversary of their classic White Pony album. There surely can’t be anything else up their collective sleeves, can there? Au contraire, and in fact, they may well have saved the best ’til last with Black Stallion.
Remix albums in the world of metal are rarities and, at best, curios. In recalling a genuinely exciting remix album your mind has to go all the way back to the mid-90s, when Nine Inch Nails’ Fixed and Fear Factory’s Remanufacture felt like worthy additions to the bands’ respective discographies. So, even though White Pony is one of the greatest records our scene has produced, and the cast of characters assembled to re-imagine it is incredibly impressive, you might be sceptical that it would yield anything essential. And yet it’s a testament to the sky-high quality of Black Stallion that it is often within touching distance of the original.
Instrumental hip hop pioneer DJ Shadow’s addition of snaking beats, fuzzy synths and a big Radiohead-style bassline to Digital Bath is magical; super-producer Salva adds subdrops and broken beats to Rx Queen with stunning results; The Cure’s Robert Smith adds a layer of gothic piano to Teenager that is so perfect an accompaniment that you can barely believe it was never there in the first place; and Trevor Jackson turns Korea into a piece of lush trip-hop brilliance that Massive Attack would be proud of.
These are hugely impressive moments, but not a single contributor – from Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda to Squarepusher – drops the ball here. White Pony is an absolutely crucial record; we’ve all known this for a couple of decades. But with Black Stallion, Deftones and their assembled cast have created something that truly adds to its legacy.