Ever since Radiohead became the standard by which all other bands are judged for maximum artistic expression, there has been a quest to name "the American Radiohead." Many have bestowed that title on Wilco, while some people (including MTV News' James Montgomery) have attached that moniker to Linkin Park. But there is a case to be made for Deftones, the Sacramento-based band who got lumped in with the nü-metal movement because of their hair, clothes and volume but in reality were so much more. If you consider their career arc, they match up quite well with Radiohead, as each band had a gritty debut album with one breakout single (in Deftones' case, that single was the bleep-heavy "7 Words") followed by an envelope-pushing follow-up and a quantum leap of a third album. On this day in 1997, Deftones dropped their sophomore effort (their The Bends, if you will) in Around the Fur.
While the band's self-titled debut grabbed some attention for its buzzsaw guitars and stray bits of death funk, Around the Fur thickened up the sound and added layers of keyboards, thicker guitars and a more grinding bass groove (much which seemed to be jump started by sonic terrorist Frank Delgado). At the front of the sound was singer Chino Moreno and his continuously evolving voice. Tracks like "Lhabia" and "Dai the Flu" deliver a pounding sonic assault that hides bits of melody and beauty within the folds of the riffs, and it starts to create the most expansive sonic palette that the band would fully embrace on their next album (2000's White Pony).
The singles from Around the Fur were killer, including the passionate, groovy "Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)" and the punishing, thrashing "My Own Summer (Shove It)."