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The Best Thing That Pantera Has Ever Done - 95%

Twisted_Psychology, June 17th, 2009

Following his departure from Judas Priest, Rob Halford seemed to be just everywhere during the mid-90's. He replaced Ronnie James Dio for a few Black Sabbath concerts when everyone's favorite elf refused to open for a certain Ozzy Osbourne and also released two studio albums and an EP as the leader of the thrash/groove metal tinged Fight. And as a special treat for the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" movie soundtrack, Halford got together with the members of Pantera and recorded this interesting single.

Musically, the song's style is pretty much what you already expect it to sound like: Rob Halford singing for Pantera. The riffs churned out by Dimebag Darrell and Rex Brown are packed with plenty of mid-tempo grooves, Halford's signature wail soars at a high pitch during the verses and turns into a lower pitched bark during the choruses, and Phil Anselmo manages to contribute some backing vocals from time to time with his controversial sandpaper yells. In fact, this sounds a lot like something Fight would've done. It's a little more raw than anything on "War of Words," but it wouldn't sound too out of place on that particular album. Kinda makes one wonder why it wasn't remastered along with the rest of Halford's solo material...

As much as I can enjoy "Cowboys From Hell" and "Vulgar Display of Power," one has to admit that this song may be the best thing that the boys in Pantera have ever been a part of. Bringing Halford in to collaborate with the band seems to brought some control into the songwriting process and successfully downplays several of the flaws pointed out by most metalheads when listening to Pantera's regular albums. The guitar riffs still go at that signature Pantera mid-tempo pace, but they seem to be a little tighter in their execution than usual and Dimebag's guitar squeals show a little more restraint whenever they pop up. The lyrics also show a little more subtlty than anything Anselmo than ever put to paper and feature some cryptic but cool phrases. I even like the dramatic effect that Anselmo's backing vocals bring during the song's choruses; say what you will about his leading abilities, but his howls are pretty effective when placed in the background...

If there's one thing that you can get out of listening to this, it's the persisting question of why they didn't go further with the idea than a mere single. Much like Halford's very brief stint in Sabbath, it would've been really cool to see a full-length album come out of this. It sure as hell would've been better than anything on "Far Beyond Driven..."

Pros:
1) Halford's songwriting skills bring a little more organization to the famously sloppy Pantera
2) The riffs are tight and the vocals sound great
3) The lyrics are interestingly written
4) Phil Anselmo makes a good backing vocalist

Cons:
1) Some listeners are bound to be still irritated by the groovy riffs and the mere presence of Anselmo.
2) Why the hell didn't they make a full-length album out of this?!