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The first four Pantera releases are so frequently either overlooked, unheard of, or completely maligned, that it becomes impossible to find anyone who is willing to give this a fair shot in today's metal community. So ridiculous is the idea that Pantera were once a traditional heavy metal band, that nobody gives this a chance to show its quality, and this is absolutely silly in my opinion. What we are treated to on the final of these albums, Power Metal, is a fun, enjoyable ride featuring thrilling guitar work and some great vocals. Also worth noting is that this album was made during a period in which it was not unheard of for rock musicians to cross dress, as bands such as the Motley Crue were doing at the time, and Pantera did not avoid this trend. The album cover has a very glam metal tone to it, but this is where Pantera were a little different from many of the more popular bands of the time, and the one thing holding them back from the success they would achieve on future releases.
Musically, this album is one of Pantera's finest, featuring all of the members that would later go on to make Pantera famous, but boasting a completely different style. There are not quite as many pinch harmonics that Darrell would utilize so frequently on future albums, but are instead just straightforward riffs that make for one fun listen. This is an album that is simply an energetic band enjoying themselves, regardless of how unsuccessful they were throughout this period. However, this is clearly where the roots of their thrash metal sound of Cowboys From Hell is found, being considerably more aggressive and up-tempo from previous releases, in particular the title track, which is also one of the standout songs of the album. The guitar riff that gallops along is as exciting as can be, and Phil Anselmo shrieks his lungs out, providing a faux Bruce Dickinson style to the vocals that were as cheesy as could be, but still very good to just kick back and listen to.
We'll Meet Again and Death trap are plagued by cheesy lyrics, but are interesting enough songs to listen to, and provide a degree of variety to this otherwise one-dimensional album, showing that Pantera even then had numerous stylings. The ballad sound of songs such as This Love is found on a couple of songs, as is the groove nature that would be truly developed on Vulgar Display Of Power. However, on this album, neither of those ideas is fully formed, and are merely hints of what was to come, making this as historically significant as the album that would follow it was. Here we have a collection of strong songs that, whilst never threatening their own comfort zone, are great fun for the odd listen, and are criminally underrated.
Power Metal is the beginning of Pantera's true stretch of good albums. What had come before was nothing special, and frequently undermined the band's ability, but this was all to change on this album. This is a great album, and the title track and Proud To Be Loud are definite must owns in any true metal heads collection. Definitely consider checking this out, as it will not disappoint.