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So this is how it started out for the boys in Pantera, but I wouldn't call it a great start. First off, the sound quality is not that great, which it rather forgivable given that they were a small time glam band from Arlington, Texas and this is their debut. It's gritty and doesn't do the music any good. But I'm sure Jerry Abbott, father of band members Vinnie Paul and Darrell Abbott, did the best he could with what he had.
The album starts out strong and straight forward with Ride My Rocket and I'll be Alright, songs that bring bands like Diamond Head and the early stuff of Def Leppard to mind. As does other songs like Metal Magic and Widowmaker, which is a sound that kinda suits them. But mainly this album has an aura of glam and Kiss influences about it and I would say it's rather evident that this is not their strong suit. They do pull off some nice melodies and rythms here and there, like the verse in Latest Lover and the chorus in Biggest Part of Me, but the rest of their more glammy approaches comes off as generic and boring. Sadly, most of the album is glam and thereby mostly dissapointing.
The album also features one of the worst album covers I have ever seen, comparable in quality to the debut of Aerosmith. A ripped panther on two legs coming at you with a knife, I cannot fathom how Danny Leatherman or the band thought of this as a good design.
A good thing about this is that even early on could you hear the brilliance of the brothers Abbott, Vinnie Paul's steady but playful drumming and Darrell's rather unique guitarchops. Rex Brown's bass playing is as allways flawless, even in these early days. And Terry Glaze, despite giving the weakest performance, does a fairly good job singing. But still, if I was an A&R guy I wouldn't sign them based on what I heard here. Funny where greatness can come from.
Before I start, I would like people who are about to read this review to drop all their prejudice of this album (assuming you haven't listened to it). Pantera's groove era work is not the pinnacle of their creativity, and just because this is a glam metal album written by an inconsistent band as Pantera is, this is actually some of the best glam metal you can possibly find, and I'll tell you why.
First off, calling this album just a glam metal one isn't entirely correct - it's notably heavier than average glam metal, with some speedy moments thrown in, so maybe heavy/glam is the most accurate description of this record.
What might be an issue with this record is its production - the rhythm guitar is too muddy and the drums sound a bit weird in the mix, the same goes for the vocals. The production isn't nearly as bad as the early Death/Mantas demos, but it doesn't fall into the category of "good bad production" that we can hear on some black metal either. It's something in between them. But it's not unbearable, and in fact, it doesn't cut down the enjoyment.
Now for the music. This is where this album surprised me. Going by the tracks, I'll tell you straight off - Ride My Rocket, with an intro ripped off from Detroit Rock City by Kiss is probably the only weak track on the album. Going further, the next song, I'll Be Alright is one of the albums highlights with its awesome riffage. The album isn't very consistent, but nearly every song on the album has at least 1 or 2 memorable riffs and a few catchy moments that make them stand out. Songs are mostly medium-tempoed, akin to traditional heavy metal, though there are a few speedier ones (Ride My Rocket, Metal Magic, Rock Out). There is also a very fine power ballad thrown in (Biggest Part of Me), so the album doesn't miss variety either.
For a young band like they were back in the day when this album was released (for instance, Dimebag was only 17), the musicianship is rather fine. Dimebag is a complete riff-machine on this one, and does some decent leadwork as well, his older brother Vinnie isn't far behind with his drumming. Terry Glaze is objectively a pretty horrible vocalist, but he has his own depth that fits in the songs rather well. Rex doesn't have any standout moments to name, but overall, the band sounds great together.
As for the lyrics, well, yeah, there isn't much to say about them. In short, they are so bad that they're good.
To sum it up:
-Guitarwork - great riffs, quite catchy tunes and decent leadwork
-Very good catchy moments, provided by the fitting drumming and Dimebag's outstanding riffage
-Production - muddy guitar sound and weird overall mixing
-Cheesy vocals and lyrics
I'll Be Alright, Biggest Part of Me, Sad Lover
I will keep this review straightforward. If you are expecting the Pantera that released "Vulgar Display Of Power" on this album, then you will have a huge shock. It is very hard to believe that the Pantera that released this went on to keep metal alive in the 90's. I personally love both of Pantera’s eras, from their incredibly cheesy glam to their "mainstream" releases. I do not care what some people on this site say, I love every single one of their albums.
Firstly, people often complain about the production on this album. I disagree as I feel the raw, unpolished production adds to the feel and charm of this release. Also, unlike Pantera's "mainstream" albums, you can actually hear Rex's bass lines. I felt on some of Pantera's other albums the bass was too low in the mix.
Both Vinne and Dime provide solid performances on this album, with Dime never failing to create tasty, catchy riffs and decent solos. However it is clear, that because this is their debut Dime had not had the chance to develop his playing style completely. However, the soloing and guitar work on this album are still admirable and well written. Vinne's performance is impressive, managing to keep his drum parts varied and interesting. However, I feel the Abbott brothers had not fully developed the playing style for which they would become famous.
However much I love this album, it is flawed. The main problems are the lyrical content and Terry Glaze's vocals. The lyrics are typical of this style of music. They are mostly about girls and sex (Ride My Rocket and Tell Me If You Want It, for example). I do not think Terry Glaze was a bad singer. Perhaps this was due to the production on this album but his vocals sound weak at certain points. However I think his vocals are fitting. Even though Terry Glaze's vocal performance was good, it would later be outdone by Phil Anselmo's mind blowing performance on their fourth album "Power Metal".
Overall I would not recommend this album to any casual Pantera fans (that is those only aware of their "mainstream" releases). However those who are interested in the origin of the band, or die hard fans, you should certainly pick this up and give it a listen with an open mind. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
- "Ride My Rocket"
- "Tell Me If You Want It"
- "Metal Magic"
- "Nothin' On (But The Radio)"
Now almost everyone knows of Pantera as the bullet-spitting groove metal act that ruled the metal realm of the over-decadent 1990's. Little do most know is that the amazing brothers Dimebag Darrell (then known as Diamond Darrell) and Vinnie Paul as well as bassist Rex Brown had a lead singer that was NOT the great Phillip Anselmo, but a glam-influenced one that went by the stage alias T. Lee, as well as 1990’s Cowboy’s From Hell was NOT their first album, but what we’ve got here is the REAL Pantera debut that was released in 1983, preceding CFH by almost 10 years, but not quite on the dot. Early Pantera material is very reminiscent to that of Def Leppard and Motley Crue, if the two got together in the bed and made some horrible glam hybrid with elements of KISS and others. “Metal Magic” is the true debut by the Texas powerhouse, and I must say it sounds like early Sunset Strip glam metal. To tell you the truth, it was not up to what I hoped it would be. I have read bad review after another and I must say that everyone is justified in my book when they say that this sucks.
The lyrical content on this album is mainly fairly juvenile and undeveloped. Songs like the self- explanatory “Ride My Rocket” and “Tell Me If You Want It” are as bad as Pantera gets. The songs are mainly awful. The album would be a whole lot more bearable if Dime had developed his trademark guitar acrobatics as showcased in the so called “commercial years” of Pantera. There are (somewhat) worthwhile songs such as the sort of mediocre “Widow Maker” and…maybe the title track. The riff is okay, but the vocals and the lyrics suck. The album’s production is very cold and lacking. The drums sound way too high in the mix, but they do not have enough bass to push through vocalist Terry Lee’s high pitched Vince Neil/Joe Elliot crossover. The bass is always at front of the mix. I was scrolling through eBay one day and someone was actually pleading the viewers to take this album off of their hands. Yes, it is that bad.
Would I blame anyone in the right frame of mind for wanting to erase this mess from their collections? No, I would not! That is just how terrible the album is. As much as I hate this album, I still give it points because I love Dime. If you are one of those diehards that must have everything made by a band, then by all means buy it, but you will soon find out that it is more filler than killer, making it a permanent space filler in your collection, as it did mine.
So this is where Pantera started out as a band. This is way back in 83 when glam was just starting to become a mainstream force. This album is pure glam with the occasional speed metal moments which are present in both I'll Be Alright and Metal Magic. This album is pretty cheesy even for glam. This is no Projects From the Jungle more to less Power Metal.
What this album sounds like is a second rate Poison/Bon Jovi fusion. So for those who do not like either band, you will probably hate this album, as evident with the amount of shit it has gotten from both metalheads and Pantera fanboys alike. However, if you're like me, and absolutely love 80s hair metal, you'll at least dig this. For a glam album, it's pretty consistent, though at times it does get rather bland.
The main thing that holds this album back (for me anyway) is the production. The sound is just too raw and unpolished. For a thrash album, this kind of production would be great, but this is 80s glam, and therefore, it just doesn't sound right.
The best songs on this album would be Ride My Rocket, Tell Me If You Want It, I'll Be Alright, and Metal Magic. The first two mentioned songs are very catchy and upbeat rockers. Ride My Rocket is pretty up tempo, but doesn't qualify as speed metal, because of the lack of riffs. The last two mentioned tracks, however, are two awesome speed metal songs, that would eventually influence the rest of their career as musicians. Metal Magic is probably the closest to thrash that this album gets, and sounds like total Judas Priest worship though with cheesy lyrics. They would do this speed metal number even better on their next album, Projects in the Jungle.
However, there are two songs here that bring the score down a bit. These are the last two tracks, Sad Lover and Rock Out. Both songs are rather dull and generic glam songs, and Rock Out tends to get a bit boring at times. These songs aren't really bad, but there just pretty avarage for glam standards.
For the most part, this album is pretty consistent. However, I can't really picture anyone outside of glam metal fans that would appreciate this album. If you're into thrash, stay away from this album, you'll hate just about every moment of it, outside of the title track. If you're a Pantera fan, you might want to give this a listen to see how the band started out. However, if you're an 80s glam fan, I'd recommend this you, especially if you're into Poison or Ratt. This album is pretty much impossible to find at a reasonable price, so just download it instead.
Although that’s not to say it’s a bad album. Quite the contrary, Metal Magic easily shits all over Pantera’s 90s material (with the soul exception of Cowboys From Hell, which, to quote hells_unicorn “was seen as an 80s album by nearly everyone”), and as with all their other 80s releases, is deserving of a re-release.
The main thing that sets this back from their next three albums is without a doubt the production. There is very little depth in the guitar tone, which is often buried beneath the cheesy 80s synthesizers, which leads me neatly onto the album’s other biggest problem. The synth intro to the album is annoying for two reasons: It’s part of the first song, so you can’t skip it to go straight into the opening track, like the nice chaps in Motley Crue let you do with their release of the same year. The title track suffers from this problem as well, which means you have to wait an annoyingly long amount of time before you can listen to what would otherwise be fine songs. Someone clearly wasn’t thinking when they recorded those intros. And the second thing about them is that they just sound crap. The really sad thing is though that if the band took a bit more time to make the synths less tedious sounding, the song “Tell Me If You Want It” could have been a much better song than it already is.
Fortunately the song is good enough to stand up against the poorly executed synths, and is still enjoyable to listen to. While this album’s production and synths are pretty damn bad, they don’t manage to cripple the entire album. Anyone who is a fan of glam can’t help but enjoy fun upbeat songs such as “Latest Lover”, the speed metal number “Metal Magic”, the cheese-laden “Sad Lover”, and even the balled “The Biggest Part of Me” isn’t actually completely horrible to listen to (it’s synths are actually rather tastefully done, with a cheap sounding strings section sound used).
And while the whole album is a very cheesy listen – as glam generally is – it still stands to bare the name glam METAL. Despite being fully of KISS worship, this is nowhere near the pop display of bands like Poison Bon Jovi - can you see either of those bands playing a speed metal song? -, and by no means sounds like a demo the former would have recorded, as stated by an earlier review. Terry Glaze does a pretty good job of handling the vocals, but certainly something any despiser of glam would, well, despise. He doesn’t display the hard edge future vocalist Phil did during his peak (that would be his first two albums recorded with the band), but would certainly improve over time, unlike Phil, who by 1992 was putting out some of the worst vocals I’ve ever heard.
If you can ignore the poor production, synths and somewhat disturbing artwork - and I know that’s hard - this is actually a very consistent album. Aside from the closing track, which is a bit of a none event, there isn’t really a bad song on here, although certainly nothing to special either (especially if the riffs department, not Dime’s strongest effort). It’s really sad to see such an enjoyable album held back by poor production and tasteless synths, as if it weren’t for these this album would certainly be earning another 20 points to it’s score.
So in conclusion, if it’s well produced polished riff-based glam metal from 1983 you’re after, go and buy Shout at the Devil instead, which in every single way Metal Magic can’t hold stick to. However, if your standards are slightly lower and you just want a fun glam metal release that doesn’t have the pop riddled sound of Poison, or you merely wish to here where Pantera came from, download this from an illegal P2P network now, since the band themselves are to ashamed to admit that once upon a time, they weren’t the crappy groove false thrash metal band they turned out to be. Maybe one day the band will grow out of this stupidity and re-release (and in this album’s case, remix and re-master as well) their releases on "Metal Magic Records", but until then: www.limewire.com
It pains me to give any Pantera album anything less than 85, but this just doesn't cut it. I love Pantera and I love glam but this is the bad kind of glam. You know, the kind that you watch, and everyone has fucking make-up all over their faces, the kind that makes you think "Jesus, the hell is Bret Michaels thinking?" Well, this is the kind. Subsequent albums will be a different issue, but it seems that in their first album Pantera really just didn't know what the hell they wanted.
The album begins with the song Ride My Rocket, and has glam's obligatory goofy intro ("In this time of metal magic, we need rock and roll... we need... Pantera!"). It's actually a very good glam song, and has the merit of giving a good start to the album. However, the rest just completely fails. Whether it's the cheesy sexual innuendo of "Tell Me If You Want It," the boring "Rock Out" which just goes nowhere, or the make-you-barf sweetness of "Biggest Part of Me" (no, it's not a song about Terry Glaze's cock), this is just your average glam album, possibly slightly worse. And it truly pains me to say this about a Pantera album, seeing as it is my favorite band of all times.
Why a 60 then? Because it's still not Poison, in all fairness. There's some good stuff on this album. I think that, for example, Ride My Rocket (this one, I'd imagine, actually IS about Glaze's cock) and Widowmaker especially are very good songs that every fan of glam and / or Pantera should know. And anyone who loves glam and grew up with glam can't help but smile when listening to Latest Lover and Nothing On (But the Radio).
In conclusion: I keep this album around mainly out of loyalty to the band. Anyone who holds no such sentiments towards Pantera should go ahead and get the four better tracks mentioned above, and move on to the next albums, those of the 80s and, if you've been living in a hole for the past decade and a half, those that came after them too (and then you might get the reference in this last sentence, too!).
Metal Magic. The debut album Pantera was too embarrassed to acknowledge. That fact, coupled with poor reviews, let me know exactly what I was getting into before I ever listened to this. And let me assure you, this album deserves all the shit that it gets. This is poor even for glam metal and has very few redeeming qualities.
The most initially disturbing aspect of this album is the sheer amount of cheesiness throughout. From the respective intros to "Ride my Rocket" and the title track, Terry Glaze's poorly over-the-top vocals, the consistently corny lyrics, and the presence of all kinds of 80's synth layerings, it's actually pretty painful to listen to (as the cover is painful to look at). The music itself is fairly weak as far as 80's pop metal is concerned. There's a few legitimate speed metal moments ("I'll Be Alright" is pretty much the only song worth hearing on here), but much of this is pure Kiss worship. There are actually some decent bass lines on here, as the bass plays a much more integral role than it does on Pantera's later groove albums, but everything else is pedestrian at best. The riffs are lame, the drums are standard, vocalist Terry Glaze sucks, and the lyrics are full of cheesy innuendo. A far cry from the personal struggles chronicled in groove-era Pantera, these are desperate anthems for getting laid. If you're into glam, you might be able to find appeal in some of the catchy vocal melodies and guitar lines, but even Poison and Whitesnake never sucked this hard.
Even Dimebag Darrell (then "Diamond" Darrell) fails to deliver here. Later in his career, his fantastic guitar solos made up for some of the shittier songs on Pantera albums, but here, his talent is still in its infancy. There are some cool leads, but most of them are just era-typical and far inferior to the work of the rising thrash metal bands at the time.
"So Metal Magic is sub-par glam. That's really not so bad." Agreed, except that the album's listenability is crippled by really, really shitty production. The guitar tone is thin and fuzzy, there's several equalizing errors, and there's too much emphasis put on the shitty synth effects when they roll around. No matter how cool somebody tries to tell you this album's title track is, just listen to the stupid echoing half-whispered chorus. Lame, lame, and fucking lame.
I can't recommend this to anyone with a straight conscience. If you want to check out Pantera's old albums, skip over this one and go right to Projects in the Jungle onward.
Yeah, apparently odes to getting laid over rock n roll boogies was Dime & Co.'s idea of metal back in the early 80's. The vibe here is pretty much a complete flipside to the life's hardships angst on "Far Beyond Driven" and "The Great Southern Trendkill".
It's best comparable to a cheesy version of Poison with lyrics as crass as Spinal Tap's "Sex Farm"!! The majority of the stuff here isn't GOOD by ANY standards. Dimes playing is decent and the solos are ear catching but it's impossible to enjoy them with the "ooo baby" vocals, "lick my ice cream cone" lyrics and lame riffs. Really amateur glam, kind of like a demo Poison used to get signed by a company.
There is ONE exception however, the title track, which oddly enough is a pretty cool, SPEED METAL number. It starts off with hilarious "magic" synthesizer effects but then darts away with a good headbanging riff. Reminds me a lot of Exciter "Heavy Metal Maniac" which is a great comparison for any band.
For the rest, you'll need a strong stomach. From the self explanatory "Ride My Rocket", "Tell Me If You Want It" and "(She's got) Nothin on (but the radio)" to the "sincere" ballad "Biggest part of me" you'll be highly sickened and amused.
In reflection the albums only really worth is for seeing where the band came from and for the title track which is decent. You can't expect much from it because they were kids and it's glam, and glam is by definition = music for chicks...oh and the front cover is just DISTURBING.
So here we have Pantera's real debut, and it's nothing like the album they want you to think is the debut. This is basically generic hair metal or galm or whatever you want to call it. I actually tend to like this genre, but this is bad even for hair metal.
The songs on this album sound like a mix between early Motley Crue and every 80's new wave band. Actually everything about Metal Magic screams 80's. The vocals are whiny at times, screamy at times, and melodic at times. However they suck all of the time. The drums are pretty good and fit the music perfectly. That said this is nothing compared to what Vinne would eventually do on Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display Of Power, or even Power Metal. The bass can only be heard on one track, Nothin On(But The Radio). This might be the worst track on here, there is really nothing metal about this song. It sounds like Loverboy or something like that.
The only saving grace about Metal Magic is Diamond Darrel, as he was called. He shows on this album how much of a Eddie Van Halen master he is. The riffs are mostly garbage, generic hair metal stuff. The only riffs I really like are on the title track. Prue Judas Preist worship on this one and it's done very well. If the vocals didn't suck this would be an awsome song. Every solo found on this album is killer. Dime really was a great guitar player even if his songwriting ability was lacking at this point.
So if you like 80's hair metal you may like this. There are many other albums of the genre that are much better, but a big fan may like this. If you like Pantera and haven't heard any of the pre Cowboys From Hell albums listen to Metal Magic just to see where the band came from. I actually appreciated the later albums even more after hearing this.