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And I've never even listened to any of their other albums! Yeah, I know that sounds callous and dooshy of me, but what can is say, I've judged for myself. Trapped in between a trio of lame glam albums and their catalog of boring groove rockers, this unique beast in Pantera's discography is pure, cool as fuck heavy metal with elements of glam, speed and even thrash. I can say for that, that it is certainly Pantera's best, most straightforward album.
All the classic line-up is here and accounted for. Vinnie Paul pounds it out on the drums; he has some pretty damn fast moments here and keeps the beat steady; gotta love his faster work on "Over And Out". Rex Brown is up and running on bass; very crunchy, catchy and he lets loose a number of great riffs. The late, great, legendary Dimebag Darrell (credited here as Diamond Darrell) shows how awesome he really is; he's one mother of a shredder. He can go fast, faster, slow, heavy, thrashy; man was a god. Replacing the annoying Terry Glaze on vocals was then new guy Phil Anselmo. His voice is great; he's very flexible. Occasionally he belts out some growls similar to his future groove days, but mostly he sticks to great, melodic, Halford-esque wails. The best lineup has been created.
The songs are great. There's a few little snags, but even they're tolerable. "Hard Ride" and "We'll Meet Again" are probably the most glam-oriented cuts on here, and even they're not too bad. "Hard Ride" is at least a bit heavy, and "We'll Meet Again" is slow, melodic and inoffensive, but both are just a bit forgettable. Everything else though...WOAH! Speed, traditional, and thrash elements all across the board! Opener "Rock The World", while a tad cheesy, is catchy as all get out, with a great riff and a toe-tapping groove to it. The title track is ever better with it's amped up speed and another good riff. Fellow speeders "Proud To Be Loud" and the near-thrasher "Death Trap" come atcha at 150 MPH with some wicked Dimebag shredding and crazy vocals from Anselmo, going from wails to shrieks at some points. Particularly worth of note is "Over And Out". While still a trad metal song overall, it's very, VERY thrashy. Anselmo's vox are aggressive, everyone chips in with gang vocals, the solos are blazing and frantic (particularly the vicious last few seconds), and the cool chorus is urgent and memorable.
Overall, aside from two, maybe three so-so songs, this sucker is definitely worth a look. Anselmo is a worthwhile vocalist, and the speed/thrash/traditional metal mash-ups make for a fun, awesome listen.