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I was a big fan of Pantera a few years back, but I've never really loved this album. In my opinion it contains to much filler. Let's see what we have here.
Opener 'Strength Beyond Strength' is killer. It's a fast, in-your-fucking-face kind of song that makes your adrenaline production sky-rocket. It goes midtempo in the middle, but soon gains speed again. Now if every Pantera song was as good as this. 'Becoming' is more sluggish, and a very good song too. While there's no denying how talented Dimebag is at playing guitar, you can be driven nuts about how he plays sometimes. Not only that, he has a terrible tone too, and it sounds like it's recorded inside a metal tube/cylinder or something. And the pinches and squeals aren't that cool. Next song is '5 Minutes Alone', and it's one of Pantera's most popular. What can I say, it's good, and especially the chorus makes you wanna murder, in a good way. The riff is a bit like 'Walk', slow and that start-stop type riffing, which I mostly like a lot. The solo in this one is crazy, it sounds like some sort of siren, and very different from Dimebag's rhythm guitar work, which is a plus.
The disc continues with 'I'm Broken', another good one, and slightly better than the two before, in my opinion. Actually, 'Becoming', '5 Minutes Alone' and 'I'm Broken' are kind of in family. They have about the same half-slow tempo, and generally the same feeling. Which is why I never remember which order they come on the record. Another cool solo, by the way, on 'I'm Broken'. Then we get another kind of beast. 'Good Friends & a Bottle of Pills' is a slow, stupored, sleazy number, with the bass taking the front seat. I love it, actually, it's so different from anything else. Phil talks like he's stoned in the verse (which maybe he was, at that), and screams his lungs off in the chorus, and it all adds up to a fun and interesting track. Ok, so far, so good. But then comes 'Hard Lines, Sunken Cheeks', which sounds as dull as the title promises. A VERY slow and doomy affair to begin with, before it speeds up in the verse, and then it slows down again in the crappy chorus, maybe the worst chorus I've ever heard. Now that's an accolade! Arrgh, listening to it pains me, I must say. 'Slaughtered' is way better, thank all the gods, but hardly a masterpiece. I like the main guitar riff, and the drums that follows it, air-guitar worthy methinks. Again, though, the chorus is a major letdown. All he says is "slaughtered!". Ah, well.
'25 Years'....'5 Minutes Alone'....hmmm....many numbers and timeframes on this album, and '25 Years' sure is the worst of them. This is, if not the worst song on display, then pretty damn close. Horrid verse, horrid riffs, horrid chorus, horrid everything. It's simply stupid. When Pantera decides to suck, they sure do it big time! Luckily, quality comes by again with 'Shedding Skin', which has a funny main riff. Sounds very happy, unlike the verse, which is just a whispering Phil and mellow guitar playing. Come to think of it, this song is not that great, but the main riff makes up for it. Wish I was good enough to play it myself! Another useless track we have in the horribly titled 'Use My Third Arm'. 34 seconds into the song it actually sounds trash/death, but of course it soon changes back to suckiness. That death section is used a few times, and sounds cool, it's just too bad that the rest is garbage. The last original song is 'Throes of Rejections', and sadly this isn't any good, either. A somewhat interesting main riff section, where it suddenly stops, and the drums get all the attention for a sec, but it can't save the song.
After so many shit songs, it's bliss to hear the final track, 'Planet Caravan'. For those who do not know (and by the gods, everyone should know) this is a Black Sabbath cover. It's neither better nor worse than the original, and that's fine, 'cause it means it rules. It's a tripped-out hippie kind of a song, with nice clean guitars, easy tribal drumming, and neat sound effects. As this plays, let me just say that "Far Beyond Driven" is a mediocre album, where the best songs are the opening track and the cover. The production is fine, the guitar tone is suck, the bass is uninteresting, the vocals are sub-standard, and the drums are cool. Lots of nice moments tucked in with lots of shit ones, therefore the score.
'Till next time, my fellow metalheads.