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Upon our return to the ruins of what was once a promising metal act in Pantera, we find another gem glows a little less black than the other one, but still has a metal edge that could slice away all of the nonsense that led to the band’s demise. Unlike much of the mid-tempo Groove garbage that would end up getting non-stop airplay, this song doesn’t settle on a semi-interesting riff to drive its duration, nor does it need a ton of fancy guitar effects to make the guitar solo sound extravagant.
The main riff is pure early thrash worship, sounding like a more energetic and rhythmically intricate version of Metallica’s “Jump into the Fire”. The solo is highly reminiscent of the straight forward pentatonic run oriented solos found on early Metallica, MegaDeth, Anthrax and Overkill. But most important of all, we have enough change ups and fast sections to get the listener banging his head rather than nodding it in a quasi-bored yet conforming manner.
Phil Anselmo’s vocal delivery also flirts with early thrash influences, reminding heavily of the raw screams found on “Kill em’ All”, but with a nice little low spoken line at the end of the bridge section to complement the raw parts. Phil’s early Judas Priest influences are also present and show themselves in a voice that can do those raw high screams in key, something which James Hetfield was not often capable of doing. Unfortunately, much as was the case with live performances of “Cemetery Gates”, Phil’s vocal self-mutilation would profane the name of this great song. If Pantera truly wished to free themselves from the 80s influences that they claimed to be so ashamed of, they never should have performed either of these songs live after recording Vulgar, because the 80s influences on here are overt as hell.
To fans of Pantera, whether you are of the older persuasion or those many unquestioning followers who liked all of their stuff regardless to how bad the later stuff was, just pick up the full “Cowboys from Hell” LP. Collecting fetishes are not always a healthy thing, especially when the single has nothing other than the song on it. I inherited it by chance from a brother who was obsessed with them up until 1992, and even he didn’t see fit to hold onto this after picking up the full album.