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This is the most honest and hard-emotional album Pantera has ever made, and by hard-emotions I mean that Max Cavalera feeling from the "Arise" album. It's straight on hard, heavy and and ear-popping with some brilliantly pulled off mood changes through out the songs. From "Strength Beyond Strength" song till "Planet Caravan" cover It makes you want to break all hell to the world and rub shit in some politicians face or some asshole that stepped on your nerve.
So riffage is the most responsible agent for this explosion of bad-assness, with some pretty much mind bending solos that rip your brain cells like heroin does to a junkie. The riffs are pretty much simple at some points, and I read in some review that, I quote "anyone could have thought off this shit". OK, AC/DC's riffs are all pretty much simple and basic, and yet many people, including me, appreciate them and their work, and If you don't you're a fucking retarded. Another example is Burzum, which is one of my top 10 favorite bands. If that isn't simple music I don't know what is, and still it's considered one of the best metal bands (one-man-bands) of all time. But let's get back to the riffage on this album. Like i said, they're simple at some points, though many of the guitar techniques redeem the simplicity and fit in perfectly, thus making the guitar sound like a true Texas chainsaw. And that's called riffage ingenuity of one Dimebag Darrell , creating something simple, yet not so simple for others to cover it properly, and yet so impressionable on the hearing part. So riffage get's pure 20% for genuine awesomness.
About the vocals on this album I could talk for days, but I'll try to keep it simple. Though I really do like Phil's vocal style, they're pretty much not so "great" on this particular album due to his drug addiction. But still he managed to fit in perfectly with the guitar sound and the whole "I'm fed up with this shit" idea. He ranges sometimes from NYC style punk shouts to some high pitch vocal fry, or from that same punk style mixed with growl shouts to a pinch of the southern "heat" dirty singing, which makes the whole vocal thing much more interesting to listen to. Now many people don't like this, but really, it's metal, it's not supposed to be "beautiful", he's not supposed to sound like a fucking princess Peach from Super Mario or Kirby(I INTENTIONALLY INSULT POWER METAL, even though I do like some bands of that genre). So vocals get 20% for being just what they're supposed to be, crude, rude and loud.
As far as lyrics go, they're pretty much OK, and standard Pantera. They're not idiotic, they're not poetic either, but a quite good mixture of surrealism, sarcasm at some points, and straight-forward punk "fuck you, you're shit" stuff. The lyrics basically, just have a good straight point, they're not mindless at all, and they really depict quite well the "personal struggles" theme. So lyrics get 15% for keeping up that consistent hateful, strong message for the 3rd album now.
Bass and drumming are quite complementary, filling the hole of the second guitar deficiency. Drumming is an excellent thick rhythm monster, filled with bass line's bass bombing thus making it all sound like a one individual instrument, instead of 2. Vinnie really does his job well, keeping the whole band in rhythm shape, and Rex pulls his real hard wrapping it all out in one single moshable bomb. So drumming gets 20% for being a fucking machinery, and bass line gets 15% for being one hell of a bass-bomb.
So final thought is this: This album is most certainly much hated, but it shouldn't be, and I don't know why groove genre is so generally hated. Yes it has some idiotic bands, and some ups and downs, but so do other genres. Personally this is my 3rd favorite metal genre, with thrash being No. 1 and death metal on the second place, and I don't find anything critically bad in it(like in some other groove band's work), and I didn't start with metal just yesterday. So all in all this album Is worth it's praise, It's definitely worth listening to, and even more if you like any bit of hardcore punk, either NYC style or other, mixed with some blues based thrashy death riffage and good moshable-headbangable atmosphere.