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Alright, first of all, let it be known that I damn-near worship Dimebag. I'm not going to start off on a rant about how I'm his biggest fan and he changed my life, but he IS my favorite guitarist (no one comes close) and he did inspire me to play guitar.
That being said, the one thing I probably hate most about this album is the guitar work. Whoah, whoah, whoah, don't crucify me yet. Hear me out. First of all, seeing as my best friend is arguably Randy Rhoads' biggest fan, I've become incredibly familier with his playing and his style. Keeping in mind that Dimebag took a lot of influence from Randy Rhoads (among other people), it's just annoying to listen to so many Rhoads-inspired riffs on this album. The riffs are definitely amazing; it's like everything Pantera's later albums weren't. Fast, technical, and aggressive. But Dimebag is my favorite because of the way HE played guitar, not because of how Randy Rhoads (or any of his other influences) played guitar, so to hear an album which is so heavily influenced by ANOTHER guitarist just sort of ruins it for me.
That brings me to my second point about the guitar work. The solos are LAME. They're fast and Dimebag definitely shows off his shredding on this album, but that's all it is: shredding (for the most part). If I want to listen to shredding, I'll pick up and Yngwie Malmsteem album or a DragonForce album (in his defense, DragonForce wasn't out yet, but still). I loved Dimebag's solos because they were so imaginitive and emotional. Cowboys from Hell, Walk, Floods, Cemetary Gates, etc. That sort of "feeling" I got from his later stuff (later being CFH and on) just isn't here.
BUT! That's minor. Well, not minor, but it's only ONE thing to complain about. And despite some of the goodness being gone, the guitar work will still kick your ass nine ways to Sunday. I won't pretend like I listened to the bass and review it like usual. To be honest, I don't give a shit about the bass unless it's abso-fucking-lutely amazing, which Rex isn't. But he's good and it doesn't sound BAD, so I'll assume it's pretty tight with the guitar as it should be. There are a couple places where I can hear it and it's pretty cool. Some nice walking bass lines here and there.
Vinnie's drumming is probably the best it's ever been. I love listening to his drum work on this album, and on the title track, half the song is just drumming and singing, so he definitely gets to shine. True, there are no amazing double-kick frenzies or amazing drum solos, but it's fast and fierce as it should be. Plus, he keeps the beat, and when you're headbanging, does anything else really matter?
Phil is GODLY on this album. I think I like him a bit better on Cowboys from Hell, personally, but his Manowar-esque shrieking is top-notch. I can't really pick out a single track where he stands out. He's giving it his all on every single song, and I love it. But I've gotta say, on the title track, the chorus is just epic! "You say you want some metal...I'll give you all I got! My deadly grasp is lethal; this force will never stop! POWER METAL!" It gives me goosebumps.
Really, I'd love to give this album a higher rating, because in truth, it deserves it. Everything is about as good as it can be, really. But when it comes right down to it, I love Dimebag for what he did with a guitar, but he just ain't doing it on this album, and it's a shame. I guess it took him just a couple more years to finally find his style. Thank god he did.