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Whenever you see the phrase Groove metal, read it as "Thrash band that decided to stop being thrash and start being trendy". As well, it seems Darrell Abbott, who was once a fucking genius on guitar, has relegated his skill to the back of his brain and fills up FBD with stupid pentatonic riffs that any numbskull could've come up with. Phil's vocals, by this point, have deteriorated to strained tuff guy shouts that sound completely ridiculous, devoid of any of the power or force that his old singing had.
As per usual, Rex's bass has been mixed out of the sound, completely inaudible and buried underneath the messy muck of Darrell's oversaturated guitar. Vinnie, for who's work on Power Metal and Cowboys From Hell I actually respect, completely tanks here, doing simple bass-snare work that reeks of laziness. Honestly, I think he's falling asleep at the kit here, any fool could've done this.
And here's the problem with FBD. The riffs are the kind of riffs that first year guitarists come up with (and I would know, this is the kind of shit I played in my first year of playing), the "singing" is mere choked out yells, and the drums are the kind of drums any first year drummer does. This honestly reeks of such amateurism that it makes Korn's debut look like pure musical genius in comparison (and trust me, I HATE Korn.) In fact, it's the same kind of musical amateurism that made St. $hit stink up Metallica's legacy so much, the I-III-IV chord progressions and simple pentatonic melodies that tell the listener that you've pretty much run out of inspiration and are doing the bare minimum to put out a record.
This is Vh1/MTV metal, folks. This is stuff that takes the artistry out of being a musician, and relegates it to being mere craftsmanship; the record is made solely so Pantera and their label could line their pockets, and from the sound of it, is done with the minimal amount of effort it takes to produce an album for public consumption. If they could avoid going into the studio altogether and program this thing entirely, I bet you they would've.
Choice cuts: Not on this album, dude. If I had to pick a song that stunk the least, it would be Slaughtered or Shedding Skin, because at least those songs had riffs that broke out of the pentatonic mold. If you want the best Pantera has to offer, stick to Cowboys From Hell or Power Metal. Everything before Power Metal was shitty glam, and everything after CFH, including this, was shitty groove metal. Wait, that was a redundancy. Groove metal is shit by definition. Seriously, the only way I can define this genre is "Metallic hard rock that uses simplified and bare bones riffs with sloppily syncopated drumming with strained yelled vocals." That's all I can really say about it. I define groove metal as shit first grade metal. It relies HEAVILY on drop-D tuning using the only the 0 fret, the 3 fret, and the 5 fret. Again, basic pentatonic shit.
I really can't put into words how shit this is. I'm ashamed I ever listened to it.