It is perhaps an artist, looking back, that we should have covered as the site's SKULLFUCKED premiere. Here's hoping that our combined scribbling skills have improved enough from then until now for us to do their level of musical genius justice. (I'm not sure about Feind, but I know I need the practice!)
I believe I discovered Pantera when I was about sixteen, my father also discovered them inadvertently around the same time as I refused to turn the volume down as I secreted the boombox (showing my age again!) in the bathroom as I would shower. My first taste came by the way of Cowboys From Hell, honestly if you are a self-proclaimed 'metalhead' and have never heard Cemetery Gates, more than say twenty times, I don't know what to think (though I will devise a suitable and fitting punishment with hopes that USPS can deliver).
Phil Anselmo's first appeared in 1987 following the efforts of two previous vocalists in a band that was at the time known as Pantera's Metal Magic. Power Metal's release (their third) in 1988 saw the band with a heavier sound and a new vocal style that the band gladly embraced.
Leaving their 'softer' roots behind they headed in an entirely new direction that was more akin to the 1980's style of Thrash metal. It garnered them more attention than ever before and led to a deal with ATCO Records in 1989 and the subsequent release of what many still consider a milestone in the metal genre. Ironically Pantera prefer not to list their four earlier releases on their official website choosing instead to start with CFH, a release which many often mistake as their first anyway.
Cowboys' was an album that was perilously close to never being made, enter Megadeth and their desire for a musician to fill a vacant guitarist spot. At the time 'Dimebag' Darrell auditioned, he was very nearly 'in' but for one tiny detail, he asked that they also include his brother, Vinnie Paul, the drummer as part of the 'trade'. Alas, everyone's favorite red headed thrasher, Mr. Mustaine, had other plans and it didn't come to pass, on an interesting note he also very nearly 'stole' Kerry King from Slayer a few years previous (and as Mustaine is prone to do, credits himself with teaching King everything he knows. Absolutely no conceit there whatsoever *rolls eyes at Mustaine’s severe douchiness – That’s a Feind edit note there).
Vulgar Display of Power was their next release. It considerably upped the heaviness level displayed on their previous effort. It relied more on chunky grooves and even, at times, experimentation rather than the metallic speedy riffs found within C.F.H. This unique style garnered a phrase 'Groove' metal carving a new genre in a metal scene that at the time was deemed undesirable replaced by Grunge's influence and allure. Many consider VDoP to be the highlight of the metal year, closely followed by Megadeth's Countdown To Extinction and Cannibal Corpse's Tomb of the Mutilated.
By Demons be Driven is a track found on 'Vulgar', admittedly it's always been one of my favorites. *Feind editor’s note – If you dare listen you will never be able to say the name of this site when you tell your friends how awesome we are (Yes, you should!) without screaming in their face, THY DEMONS BE SCRIBBLIN! We apologize to said friends in advance!
The original cover depicted a large drill bit aimed at a spread anus, for some reason it was rapidly replaced by a more PC image of a drill bit penetrating a skull.
It landed on shelves just as I was beginning to believe that 'Far' couldn't be outdone. Boy, was I mistaken!
Dimebag Darrell's genius shines through in many tracks, the echo-like guitar wailing effects and melody found in 10's IMO are especially impressive. Suicide Note is another song, in two parts, which is truly unforgettable, dark, emotional and especially powerful, even for a later era Pantera track.
It is hard for me to believe that this album was recorded whilst the band was embroiled in chaos, apparently the guitar tracks and vocals were recorded separately, in different studios and states. The vocals being recorded in Trent Reznor's studio in New Orleans and the music in Dallas.
Pantera recorded one final album, Reinventing the Steel, (not counting live albums) before they finally disbanded in 2003 amid communication problems and the final conclusion that Phil wasn't to return. This album failed to impress me sounding much like a rehash of previous songs produced IMO to only appease adoring fans awaiting a release and/or the demanding label.
Phil Anselmo continued to spend more time on side projects, Necrophagia (with his wife at the time playing keyboards for a brief period), Viking Crown and others. Down transformed into more of a full time gig, having quite the fan base, where he was joined by bassist Rex Brown (Rex has now left Down starting his own band Kill Devil Hill). He also managed to start his own label Housecore Records.
Seek out a release containing the raspy tones of Anselmo be it Pantera, SuperJoint Ritual, or, the band that Feind has suggested more than once to me, Down. *Feind editing note- Down are fucking awesome that’s why Cult!
Crank it and let the 'Cowboys From Hell' show you what you've been missing.