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New found Flower - 52%

Chainedown, February 16th, 2009

For Damageplan, comparison to Pantera is inevitable, no matter how much you try to separate the two bands. At first, it may seem such a comparison is unfair to Damageplan. But ultimately, this is something Damageplan brings it upon itself, because they failed to fully distinguish themselves from Pantera like Phil Anselmo did with his bands, even though they (ahem, Dimebag and Vinnie Paul) were supposed to. Here's the breakdown of Damageplan's one-and-only album.

1. Vocals

Pat Lachman, who handles guitar for Rob Halford's solo band, sings here. Frankly, I think Pat is a suitable vocalist for the Abbott brothers' hard-hitting music. Tracks like "Pride" and "Blink of An Eye" are good examples of Pat's mean vocals, where he can hit accurate pitches and hold them for a while, even adding some vibratos at times. He sometimes sings, sometimes screams (a-la Pantera), and can do both well. But while physical skills of being vocalist is fine, Pat stands inferior to Phil Anselmo when it comes to lyrical skills. There is not a single lyric that is imaginative or creative. The worst cases of such are "Explode" and "Fuck You," with the latter also noteworthy of having a pathetic song title.

2. Bass

I have never seen Damageplan live, but based on what is recorded here, it is hard to judge Bob Zilla's technical prowess as a bassist. However, one cannot help but to feel that he is inferior to Rex Brown in terms of creativity. Rex was able to create grooves and riffs that served as a great contrast to Dimebag's always-center-of-the-attention riffs and was a valuable foundation to the music along with Vinnie Paul - ultimately, he was as irreplaceable member of Pantera as the other three. On the other hand Bob Zilla offers nothing of the sort. Even as I am listening to the album while I type this, I cannot think of one song that has a memorable bassline. True, the album is produced in a clean-cut manner that makes the bass seem nonexistent, but Bob Zilla is no Jason Newsted either - there is a limit to how much you can blame on the production for lack of Bob's presence in the music.

3. Abbott Brothers

Those two folks fall flat here, compared to the rest of their works - not just Pantera but also Rebel Meets Rebel (which was released after Damageplan but recorded long before).

To be fair, they have done some things right. When they announced the end of Pantera, they had to create another band that is not a Pantera clone - for the instrumental core of Pantera, that basically meant they had to reinvent themselves. That's a big task for people that spent an entire decade perfecting their sound.

Based on the results presented here, it seems like reinventing themselves was harder than reinventing the steel, or heavy metal in general. Both the guitar and drums sacrificed much of the technical and mechanical intensity of Pantera for more smoothed-out, easy-to-play groove. But unfortunately, somewhere along their self-reinventing process, they lost originality. Groove that is emphasized on this album is generally listenable (unless you hate numetal or sounds similar to it) but by the time "Blunt Force Trauma" comes around, it's no longer fresh nor interesting, and the album overstays its welcome and suddenly becomes an exhausting listen. Sonically, the music DOES sound like Dimebag is playing guitar and drums sound like Vinnie, but if someone told you that __insert__a__numetal__musician's__name__ wrote the music and that Dimebag and Vinnie just played them, you would probably believe it. It's rather unfortunate, because it feels like that Dime and Vinnie kept the rhythmical punctuality of Pantera and tried to merge it with a sense of fluidity within their riffs, which backfired on them and made them sound polished and manufactured rather than organic. I will say that Dimebag's solos, when it does happen, are still hot and inspired.

The result:

There is no "if" in history, but back when Dimebag was still alive, this album suggested that they had potential to grow more and find their individuality as a band, and they really may have. Damageplan had talent, no doubt at all about that. With this album, the disappointments are too easy to point (like I did), but it still gets your head banging for a while anyway. This is why, 5 years after its release, I continue to listen to it once in a while, and have cared to write a review for it.

You give it a try, and see what you think.