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Its Moments are Few and Far Between - 55%

DawnoftheShred, December 16th, 2006

This is the first Pantera album that's almost rendered unlistenable by an overwhelming emphasis on groove riffing and horrible screaming from once talented frontman Phil Anselmo. It's not entirely repugnant, but for the most part, absolute garbage.

The majority of the album is groove riffing. I should hate every second of it, but try as I might, the catchiness of the groove is hard to deny. Sure it's not the most balls out killer sound ever, but there is a certain heaviness to it that's undeniable. Certain songs really do this well, "I'm Broken" and "5 Minutes Alone" for instance. There are some psuedo thrash moments, but they're brief and generally the precursor to some incredibly banal groove shit. "Strength Beyond Strength" shows promise by thrashing it up for a bit, but eventually degenerates into more mindless grooving. The songs I've mentioned, plus maybe two more, are decent enough that the poor riffs don't completely destroy them. The rest of the album is trash, nothing more or less. The cover of "Planet Caravan" is interesting, but that song wasn't that great to start with.

The only other redeeming aspect of the album besides being something mindless to headbang to is Dimebag Darrell's guitar solos, but a guitar solo rarely justifies a shitty song, unless you're the type that likes to listen to 3-4 minutes of terrible wannabe metal to hear a 20-30 second guitar shred fest. To each his own, but the highlight certainly isn't anybody else in the band. Rex and Vinnie have a solid rhythm section I get, but they only really add to the overwhelming groove infection that makes up the whole of the album. Phil Anselmo just plain sucks. He doesn't even sound aggressive anymore, just tired and shitty. His performance here was probably the inspiration for countless Hatebreed-like mallcore bands and that's even more unforgivable than having to listen to him on this album.

So to recap: there's "I'm Broken," a couple cool riffs in a few other songs, and some nice guitar solos. That constitutes maybe 8 minutes in music total, though the album is at least seven times that in length. So what's going on during all those other minutes? Not a damn thing. Not a damn thing worth listening to twice anyway. This is overrated if at all.