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This album is currently in my personal list of the most hated metal albums ever. And why? Because it was absolutely essential to the creation of the so-called groove metal genre, which now, with metalcore, dominates today's metal scene. Nevertheless, Pantera still is a respectable name within the “true metal” community (other bands that play groove metal, like Machine Head, are often neglected within it), mainly thanks to the extraordinary talent of the guitar player Dimebag Darrel, who, as everyone know, died some years ago. “Cowboys from Hell” is generally considered as the pinnacle of Pantera's career. But, hey, is this album good? Is this album the classic that many say it is?
No, no, no.
This ISN'T good, goddamn. This is like Metallica's “Black Album” mixed with some thrash/power influences and the result is a very divergent and inconsistent record. Anyways, there are some redeeming factors here.Darrel's riffs are quite decent for those who like groovy rhytms and such.The drumming is also pretty good, Vinnie Paul is a very very competent drummer, sometimes overusing the double bass drums, but that's a minor issue after all. That vocalist is a problem though. Phil Anselmo had the potential to become a good (if not great) metal singer, if he used his falsetto a bit more instead of trying to sound like a very strong and tough guy. He is absoluteyl terrible when trying to sound aggressive. He sometimes even reminds of me of some hardcore/metalcore vocalist. Fuck.
Let's get to the songs now. They are divided into three categories: the good, the average and the weak. First: the good... “Domination” is the best song of the album. Headbangable, fast and featuring that vocals that, for once, fit the atmosphere, yeah! Its doomy outro is excellent too and so is the solo, which is accompanied by some tasteful bass lines. If I had to pick up some thrash songs out of “Cowboys from Hell”, I would pick this one. “Shattered” is also good, the chorus is catchy and it also features some very thrashy sections. Finally “Psycho Holyday” is good too, mainly thanks to the catchy chorus, that will remain in your head forever.
Now, the average. Meh, the tittle trak is a very overrated song, I really don't get why it is considered a classic. Ok chorus, mediocre riffs, awful vocals, meh... “The Art of Shredding” is a bit better, being relatively fast and carrying a nice sing-along chorus. “Cemetery Gates” could have been a much better ballad than it is... It begins quietly with some acoustic guitar lines, but when Anselmo's vocals kick in... Man, he tries to sound very emotional and all, but he ends up sounding like a fucking copy of Corey Taylor. Emotional vocals? Heartfelt vocals? My ass! Then, the song gets heavier with a crushing guitar riff that is another reason why I don't like the song. While the riff isn't that bad, it is repeated so fucking much that I get headaches everytime I hear it now. The highlight of the track is the falsetto scream of Anselmo, near the end of the song, great great scream. Have I already mentioned that he had potential to become a much better singer? Finally, “Heresy” is the last average tune, its intro riff probably is the best riff of the album. The problem is that that riff is the only thing that will remain in your head after hearing the song, all the rest is very forgettable and generic.
Meh, all the other songs I didn't mentioned are weak. “Primal Concrete Sledge” is the weakest though. Terrible terrible song. “Clash with Reality” is another aberration. All the rest is very bad too.
So, we have here a very weak record, very inconsistent and full of unnecessary fillers that you don't need to hear. Download “Domination”, “Shattered”, “Psycho Holyday”, “Cemetery Gates” and “Heresy” and there you go, that should have been the final tracklist of “Cowboys from Hell”. Absolutely NOT recommended, unless you like Machine Head and those bands. Ah, and another thing... THIS IS NOT THRASH, right?
One final word to the production, which is pretty good, since all the instruments are audible (the bass included) and powerful.
Best Moments of the CD:
-the beginning of “Domination”.