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This is probably my favourite Pantera album for a number of reasons. One of which being that it contains what I feel to be Dime's best guitar solos, a fact that can easily be verified by checking out the fucking massive solo on "We'll Meet Again" and the totally mind bending shred fest that is "Death Trap." The second being that Phil Anselmo's vocals were almost perfect (I loved his performance on Cowboys), and his screaming was like a very harsh Rob Halford...strange to think that this guy pigeonholed himself to just one type of delivery later on. And overall, I think this is the perfect combination of aggression and melody, the exact thing that "power metal" should be, not some rooty tooty pretty boys singing about faeries and elves wandering off into "battle."
Take the ferocious riffs of early Megadeth and combine them with some Painkiller-era Judas Priest, and you've got a pretty good idea of the basic framework here. Nothing off Power Metal is light years away from Cowboys From Hell, except for maybe the fact this is more thrash based and not as down tuned.
Take the title track is one ripper of a fucking track. No weak riffs here, just balls out shredding, and towards the end, it breaks down into one of those heavier, moshing riffs that would later make Pantera so famous. "We'll Meet Again" is my favourite off of here, a sort of prelude to "Cemetary Gates," with spoken vocals by Phil and the that awesome solo in the middle. "Over and Out" is a ferocious maelstrom of riffs, riffs and more riffs, going through many changes and leaving you feeling wearied from the viscious onslaught.
"Down Below" is a track from I Am the Night, and perfectly bridges the gap between Terrance Lee and Phil Anselmo Pantera. Both singers perfectly pull this one off, and it's hard for me to pick a favoured version of this tune. It's got a bit of a sleazy riff, but heavy enough for destruction. Then comes "Death Trap" which is pure Pantera...galloping, raging riffs combined with screaming, over the fucking top vocals...then a lead break so savage that your neck is nearly snapped in the process! Fuck, that's got to be one of the best leads ever, and it sounds like Dime harmonized it with two guitars in different places. Surely, Trey Azagthoth and Eddie Van Halen would smile upon hearing how out there it is.
"Burrrn" could have easily come off of Defenders of the Faith, with a galloping bass and drum combo charging along. "PST 88" is kind of a throwaway track, but very amusing if you've got a sense of humour.
Really the only thing I can gripe about is the production, which is a tad thin, especially with the drums. Obviously, when they got Terry Date in there for Cowboys, things got way heavier, but the raw fucking power of this album is enough to drive you through the roof. Stylistically, it reminds me of Savatage's Power of the Night, a point where two eras of the band met and perfectly gelled, or something like that.
Glam? I think not. This is REAL power metal!