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Nestled right in the middle of Pantera’s upward climb, I Am the Night serves as a transitional album, showing aspects of both their glam metal beginnings and their thrash metal peak. There’s still more than a fair share of the glam elements, but the band were getting progressively more metal as the years went on. And that can only be a good thing, especially considering where these guys started out (see: Metal Magic).
This was the band’s last album with singer Terry Glaze and the decision to boot him couldn’t have come at a better time. While he was fairly entertaining on Projects in the Jungle, here he begins to show his true merit as a vocalist. His performance is average at best, pretty much indistinguishable from the brunt of the other hair bands’ singers. He is actually the primary reason that this album still retains ties to the hair metal sound; his vocals being typical of the era and his lyrics being among the band’s most embarrassing yet (see “Hot and Heavy” if ye doubt). What keeps this bearable is the increasingly skillful playing of Darrell Abbott, who shines throughout. It’s hard to believe that he didn’t achieve renown until after Cowboys from Hell; his playing on this album is phenomenal. His guitar tone is crunchy and his riffwork could’ve been stripped right off an Accept album. Actually, if some of these songs were a tad bit faster they could’ve been on an early Razor album. There’s some pure speed metal with the title track and “Valhalla,” a handful of mid-paced rockers with “Daughters of the Queen” and “Come-on Eyes,” one half-assed ballad, and then some stuff that is best described as power metal (“Right on the Edge”). There’s a shitty instrumental (“D*G*T*T*M”) that would be a decent display of neoclassical chops if it weren’t ruined by all the dumb sound effects in the background. Darrell does make up for it with a solid offering of worthy solos in the rest of the songs, so it’s somewhat excusable.
Rex Brown and Vinnie Paul still play an important role on the album, but their presence is overshadowed by Darrell’s playing. If you’re a big Dimebag fan, his playing on here will definitely justify some of the album’s crappier characteristics. Otherwise, this is merely average hair metal with a not so average axeman showing his skill amidst some really lame 80’s anthems that never made it big.