The Best of Pantera:Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboy’s Vulgar Hits-Pantera

lThe Best of Pantera: Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboy’s Vulgar Hits

Pantera

2003

Rhino/Elektra

Alright, so my musical tastes are rather eclectic, and this album right here happens to be quite the curve ball (not to mention the fact Ryan will probably kill me for this review.)  For those who know me, I am not your traditional “Metal Head,” in fact I’m rather the opposite.  However, I call ’em like I see ’em, and this is album is kick ass.  I sneered at metal for so many years because I thought it was just a cacophony of yelling and screeching and heavy distortion.  In an odd twist of fate a compilation of songs from the band made its way into my stereo after months of collecting dust on my dresser and my refusal to listen do to my pre-conceived notions.  After I popped it in, it instantly blew my mind; Pantera had proved me incredibly wrong.  In an unfortunate string of events, the band split and 2001 and in 2004, guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott was murdered on stage in Ohio playing with Damage Plan.  Needless to say sixteen tracks could hardly do the band justice for a greatest hits album, but the selection is so hard-hitting it’s going to knock you on your ass.

The album opens up with “Cowboys From Hell” off the album Cowboys From Hell. This was the album that mainstreamed Pantera in the 90s as a metal band.  The riff that opens the song is essentially what draws you in. It’s fast, raw, heavy and says everything Pantera wants to say before the lyrics even begin.  Keeping in mind the time in which this song was created, a time where the 80s glam rock hair metal scene was beginning to fizzle and music was going in so many different directions.  This album was Pantera’s way of setting themselves apart from the rest; it was an obvious success.

The album’s second track is a smooth transition from the first with the wispy riff and quick-moving fingers of guitarist Dimebag Darrell on “Cemetary Gates” off the album Cowboys from Hell.  The song opens slowly and with virtually clean effects  backing the lyrics (or should I say the lyrics were backing the music) of singer Phil Anselmo.  After a minute and a half, the song gets heavier.  This happens throughout the song, slow in the verses and heavier in the chorus, and a killer solo in between.  The song in its entirety: lyrics, content, music, proved Pantera to be far from the average Metal band; they could spin out melodic songs for their genre and they would become hits.

Moving onto adreniline pumping third track “Mouth For War” from Pantera’s 1992 album, Vulgar Display of Power. This song delivers one of the greatest things a compilation album could and that is transformation, my friends.  In merely a two-year span from the first and second songs, this song is evidence that the band began to evolve into their own sound.  The tempo is faster, the music is harder, the vocals are more raw.  All in all, the intensity of everything is magnified.

Keeping with the same album, Vulgar Display of Power, the next track is “Walk.”  This song is so widely known, and perhaps because everything about the song meshes so well together. The heavy decibels and consistent tempo throughout the song  along with the power behind Anselmo’s voice make the song so appealing.

The last track from Vulgar Display of Power, and the next track on the album is “This Love.”  The song opens with a riff done on a rather clean distortion effect.  Phil belts his feelings along with the riff until the distortion slowly kicks in with a little solo work by Dimebag over the clean riff.  This leads to a quick pause as the rest of the band is brought in, distortion on full, Phil’s mood is changed as he brings emphasis to his words.  Much like “Cemetary Gates” the band experiments with melodic sounds on this one, yet they’ve kicked it up just another notch.

The compilation moves on to three tracks from the band’s 1994 album, Far Beyond Driven. The album was their first ever to debut #1 on the Billboard Top 200.  The first of the three tracks is “I’m Broken.”  Again, evolution of th band can once more be found in this song.  Unlike so many bands who create album after album of songs that sound exactly the same, Pantera was sure to allow fans to decipher which albums their songs had come from.  “I’m Broken,” delivers sheer power.  The notes that pour from Dimebag’s guitar, the booming bass guitar from Rex, Vinnie’s crack of the drums, and Phil’s coarse vocals just flow through your veins with pure adrenaline.

Track seven, “Becoming,” (Far Beyond Driven) is yet another raw tune from the band. The content is questionable, perhaps a song about overcoming one’s own struggles and gaining power and control over your life. With the incredible beat of the drums driving like engines in your ears, Vinnie Paul gives the listener just what they need in a song with his flawless drumming skills.

“5 Minutes Alone,” Pantera’s way of giving the ‘ol “F U” finger to a young man who once heckled Phil Anselmo, who then encouraged the audience the beat him; thus turning into a law suit.  The man’s father, as well as Phil, exchanged ill words through the band’s manager thereafter, each mentioning having five minutes alone with one another to prove their masculinaty.  Thus, the song was dubbed  “5 Minutes Alone.”

Drifting far from the “no bull” attitude from most of the compilation, the ninth track is serene, offering not a trace of hard-hitting percussion, belting vocals, or electric solos.  “Planet Caravan,” a cover of a Black Sabbath original, is Pantera’s homage to the metal greats.  The distortion is clean and the song even offers bongos in exchange for Vinnie Paul’s hard-hitting drumming.

“Drag the Waters,”  a song from the band’s 1996 album The Great Southern Trendkill, is a rather aggressive track.  The song is a spit in the face to the music industry.  The music is heavy and the tuning is low, matching Phil’s vocals, fueling the song with even stronger emotion.

“Where You Come From,” a “know your roots” kind of anthem from the band’s 1997 live album Official Live:101 Proof.

From the Detroit Rock City Soundtrack, is “Cat Scratch Fever,” a cover of the song originally by Ted Nugent.

“Revolution is My Name” off Pantera’s last studio album, Reinventing the Steel in 2000, brings about yet another instance of evolution in the band’s style.  The guitar effects are heavy but stunning.  Dimebag’s guitar playing is something anyone who appreciates music could appreciate just the same.  Vinnie Paul is on his mark with his drum playing and gives it everything he has.  Although the band was nearing the end with the recording of this album, they gave it their all as always with this song and album.

“I’ll Cast a Shadow” was Pantera’s last single together as a band from the album, Reinventing the Steel. The abrasive song offers some great wah effects and reflects on the mark the band has left and will continue to lead on the music industry and listeners.

“God Damn Electric,” also from Reinventing the Steel, features guitarist Kerry King of Slayer.  The song even drops his band’s name as well as Black Sabbath whose influences weighed heavy on the band as a whole.

“Hole in the Sky” another song from Reinventing the Steel, is a cover of a song originally by Black Sabbath.  The band meshes the Sabbath sound with their own.  The cover is incredible, and there couldn’t have been a better song to end the compilation with.

Needless to say, you don’t need to be into metal to enjoy listening to this band.  It is incredibly tragic and unfortunate that this band will never be able to create music ever again. However, Pantera is a rare breed; their music has been able to stand the test of time and will continue to as long as more and more generations discover the sensation that authentic, hard-hitting, music fueled by energy and drenched with talent, can bring to them.  Really, give it a chance, it’ll be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

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One Response to “The Best of Pantera:Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboy’s Vulgar Hits-Pantera”

  1. Nicholas Says:

    Unfortunately they helped spawn metalcore. Oh and they used to be like this… http://leatherrebel.com/website%20pics/Pantera/pantera-powermetal.jpg

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