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Projects in the Jungle is the second Pantera album in the glam style. It's a noticeable step up from Metal Magic in that this feels more like a metal album and less like hard glam rock. There's more Judas Priest in the mix, and a little less Quiet Riot and Van Halen. It's still a cheesy glam metal album, don't get me wrong, but here it feels far more tolerable than before. It's a catchy and energetic release, if not also rather faceless.
This is basically Metal Magic with less lovey-dovey sexy-time BS and more rocking out. The catchier parts are more fun and less corny this time around. It's still corny, but it's to the point that it doesn't become too grating. The guitars have much more speed and impact this time around, with Darrell having clearly improved since album number one. The opening riff to "All Over Tonight" is savage and fast, which serves to make it a nice, hard song. There is still some sappy nonsense like "Only a Heartbeat Away" and pop-metal bufoonery on "Heavy Metal Rules!" which definitely drags this album down and makes it feel kitschy. This is also balanced out by harder rocking pieces which make up more of the album, making it feel more satisfying, despite the fact that I remember the bad songs more clearly. Terry Glaze's singing is also sharper as he's able to carry melodies better and his shrieks are more intense. There's still plenty of schlock to be had here, and honestly, this feels like a heavier and faster version of Metal Magic with an older, more talented band pulling the work.
Is this really a good album? No. A tolerable one? I guess. It's still schmaltzy glam metal, but this feels like they toned down the sex and toned up the rock to make something that people other than Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force could sit through. It's a rather faceless album with fierce competition from bands like Mötley Crue and Ratt who were better suited to the hair metal scene and Judas Priest who were more intense and better established. It's a "meh" album, but that in of itself makes it superior to Metal Magic.
With all of the bands that had their "underground" start in the 1980s and soon rose to fame in the '90s, the story of Texas-based band Pantera (who am I kidding, you all probably know who Pantera is) is the strangest beginning story of all time. Pantera was not always the flame throwing metal rompers that they are known for. In fact this album, "Projects From The Jungle", sounds very Def Leppard-influenced. The production is a HUGE step up from their less-than-mediocre debut, and this album at times does suffer from the fabled "sophomore jinx" that many bands happen to suffer. There are a few bumps in the road. For starters, it could begin with the second track, "Out For Blood". The song seems like a speed metal song (the positive) with cheesy, half-assed lyrics (the negative). There is the album closer, "Takin' My Life", which features a cheesy outdated-sounding synthesizer that overpowers the guitars at times.
But with the negatives there are good things about the album. For one, the production is really good on this album. "Metal Magic", Pantera's debut, sounded as thin as a dime (no pun intended). The drums were pushed back in the mix along with the guitars and the bass and vocals (awful, awful vocals) were at the forefront of the mix. On PFTJ, the mix is equaled out and Darrell's talent really shines through. Just listen to the amazing solo on album opener "All Over Tonight" (the song itself sounds like a really good, High And Dry-era Def Leppard clone) and it will surely give you a picture of the future in, say, about 6 years. The solo instrumental "Blue Light Turning Red" is a showcase of a 19 or so year old Darrell and while short, it is surely enough to blow minds and raise a couple of eyebrows. "Like Fire" has a very Def Leppard-ish riff and is pretty good considering that this is only the band's second album.
With that last piece of the final sentence of that paragraph, it must be taken into mind that this was only the band's second record, and it's not all there yet. The band got a much deserved lead vocalist change a couple years later and I say, if this was recorded with Mr. Anselmo, it would be a whole different monster to tackle. Another mention on this topic is the cover art (more like cave scrawling). The artwork on the first three Pantera albums were awful. They looked as if they were drawn by a 3 year old kid who entered an art contest at his/her pre-school back in '84. Yeah, it's that bad. But do not let the horrendous cover art fool you as there are some diamonds in the rough on this album, such as "All Over Tonight", "Like Fire", and "Killers". Not recommended for the Pantera die-hard.
In the golden years of the 1980’s Pantera produced 4 albums to the Metal world. The band’s sub-genre in Metal in those days was more Heavy / Glam and sometimes was recognized as Speed Metal, unlike their era in the 90’s which went to more Thrash / Sludge Metal. Unfortunately, Pantera in the beginning of the 1990’s decided to disavow their 80’s heritage and start out fresh with a more heavy sound and a new meaning. But, aside from that, the main focus of this review will be on their second album, Projects In The Jungle from their classic – older era which was mainly influenced from Kiss and Van Halen, but with a much heavier approach.
The album’s music is everything for the Hair / Glam / Heavy metal fans of the 80’s can hope for. In general the music is heavy and melodic that can sweep the listener off his feet. It’s got power that reminds sometimes of Judas Priest and the older era of Accept. For the fans of Dimebag Darrel (R.I.P), which then was called by his Glam name Diamond, can expect an excellent treat with high pitched, fast, melodic and crushing solos that cannot be heard on the band’s 90’s albums. One example is the instrumental track that emphasizes Darrel’s abilities with melodic solos of the 80’s era. In the rhythm section, both Darrel and bassist Rex Brown work with good synergy, producing the melodic sound of true Heavy / Glam Metal. Loud high pitched and melodic vocals can also be found from the first class, Terrence Lee, aka Terry Glaze , that in some parts gives the screams of Judas Priest’s Rob Halford but with much less a Metallic voice. Lee’s voice contributes the music, in the more Glamish songs, the little touch of sleaziness and mostly the expression of emotions like in the songs “Taking My Life”, “In Over My Head”. The pace by Vinnie Paul gives the music a large part of its power with crushing snare and fast pace double base that sounds like early Def Leppard and Accept.
Generally, all the songs in the album are good but Projects In The Jungle offers some standout classics like “All Over Tonight”, which has also a video , maybe the only one from that era of Pantera. The song is a melodic Heavy / Glam Metal, has pounding pace, heavy Guitars and catchy chorus. Another hit is the song “Like Fire” which really gives the real Impression of what an 80’s Glam song should sound like.”Killers” is a fast paced, breaking track with a good speed and melodic rhythm and can easily be found in an 80’s Thrash / Heavy Metal piece. “In Over My Head” has a small touch of AOR with keyboards and bring out a good melodic track. Finally, the closing song of the album, “Taking My Life” is a well done combination of AOR and Glam Metal ballad with keyboards which provides the atmosphere with the addition of Lee’s emotive voice.
The album, Projects In The Jungle, presents the wild Glam / Heavy Metal side of early Pantera. Some will probably say it was the worst era and some, when the band was around, probably still longed for it to come back. This Metal piece is one of the reminders of a true Metal band that changed its way to march ahead for an alternate future. For the band , the album and the two that came along after, provided a doorway to more turn away from Glam and the conclusion is already known. The most impact on the Metal world came after the band’s decision in 1992 to disavow their earlier albums in the 80’s and to put an end to a legacy.
While it pains me to say this, this album is much less consistent than it’s predecessor, “Metal Magic”. And while the better songs on here are of twice the quality than those of the first album, the filler on this album prevents it from earning a near perfect score.
But lets look at the good things first. The production on “Projects in the Jungle” is a huge improvement over the debut, which was horrible and felt really rushed. Here, the band has clearly taken some time to give it album style production, rather than the almost demo-like feel of the debut. The songs here sound crystal clear, definitely an improvement.
Moving onto the music itself, some of the songs on here are absolutely amazing. The music sounds so much tighter and more professional now, with Terry Glaze really showing his capabilities as a vocalist. Diamond Darrel is really starting to pump out the riffs now as well as some great leads and solos, nicely backed by the rhythm styling of Rex and Vinnie. From the hair metal anthems of “All Over Tonight” and “Heavy Metal Rules” to the full blown speed metal tracks like “Out For Blood” and “Killers”. Remember the track of the first album? That song was also a full-blown speed metal number held back by a crappy synth intro. The title track here has no such drawbacks, full of thrashy riffs and catchy vocal lines that you’ll find yourself singing along and banging your head to the second time you’ve ever heard them. Definitely the heaviest track the band have done up to this point. Also worth noting is the more mid-paced song “Like Fire”. While nothing particularly exciting compared the to previously mentioned songs, it is certainly undeserving of the skip button.
Sadly, the same can’t be said for the rest of the album. Notice something missing so far from this review of a hair metal album? Yup, that’s right, ballads. The previous album has one ballad, which, while slightly forgettable, wasn’t completely horrible. When it came on, you found yourself thinking, “Oh, this is the ballad. I might skip this”. On this album, that thought will enter you’re mind as well. And shortly after this one will appear “Didn’t I just skip this song?” and when you get to the last track “Isn’t this the same song again, except with the intro from “Street’s of Rage”?”. Needless to say, these thoughts, and more importantly, their accompanying songs will begin to wear tedious. The skip button on you’re CD player will break due to overuse. The album will slowly sink to the back of you’re collection, only occasionally being taken out to listen to the good tracks, and you will have to suffer the ballads thanks to your broken button. And it’s not just because they’re ballads that they are crap, it’s because they are the most forgettable ballads ever written. “18 And Life” this is not, nor “Home Sweet Home”, or even “Every Rose Has its Thorn”. Unlike those songs, these ones won’t stick in you’re head. I can barely distinguish between the lot of them. The first two ballads on the album are also exactly the same length…hmm…
There is another song on this album, but this will merit the first assault on the skip button. It is nothing more than Diamond Darrel’s attempt at Eruption. Forgettable.
You may or may not have noticed that I have actually spend more time talking about the four bad songs on here than the six good songs, which leads me neatly onto what angers me most about this album. If the band had decided to focus on writing good metal songs – a thing they clearly can do -, instead of trying to fit into the then-current trends by over loading the thing with lame ballads that all sound the same, this album would easily get a near perfect score. They could have created one of the greatest glam metal albums ever, but they didn’t. They held back.
So in conclusion, I do recommend you give this album a listen, some of the songs are pure classics that the band should finally acknowledge as part of their discography just be prepared to break you’re skip button, unless you like lame ballads of course…
The second chapter in Pantera’s glam origins is, thankfully, much better than the first. Exchanging much of their obvious Kiss influenced stylings with some old-school speed metal a la Judas Priest, Projects in the Jungle is the first step up towards the truly great Pantera material. It’s not perfect, but it beats the living hell out of the atrocious Metal Magic.
Now this is still undoubtedly glam metal, but it’s much more focused, refined, better produced glam metal. Actually, I’d much rather listen to this album, with its inherent cheesiness, than the likes of Winger, Cinderella, Whitesnake, etc. The improvements over Metal Magic are significant. First off, the production on this is fantastic. Everything is crisp and clear and so delightfully 80’s sounding (think Scorpions), and the gay synth effects are never brought right up front when they roll around. The album just sounds really damn good. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, all the band members have really pulled their shit together. Terry Glaze, the third-rate Vince Neil wannabe, absolutely rules on this album. The lyrics are dumb, but his vocals are perfect (for this style of music anyway). Diamond Darrell really starts to strut his stuff on this one, delivering catchy, coherent riffing and some mighty fine lead work worthy of his reputation. Add to this the consistently effective bass work of Rex Brown and the ever potent drumming of Vinnie Paul and the instrumentation on this album is complete.
Even the song structures are better, venturing more often out of the mid-paced rockers into speed metal territory. Check out “Out for Blood,” “Killers,” and the sweet title track for examples, though the rest are pretty good as well. The only sore spot on this is the track “Blue Light Turnin’ Red,” Darrell’s attempt at his own “Eruption.” He does some scale runs, some tapping, and plays with a harmonizing effect. Unfortunately, he’s no EVH, so the track comes off as presumptuous and ineffective. But even so, this is one of the nicer albums that glam metal has offered the world and it’s a shame that Pantera were too ashamed to consider it a part of their official discography, as it's a hell of a lot better than the garbage they'd start putting out in the late 90's.
Recommended, at least for a listen.
This was Pantera’s second album, and also their second album with vocalist, Terry Glaze. This is a glam metal album no doubt, but there are several songs on this album that are faster and heavier, and resemble speed metal. Unlike their debut album, which was heavily influenced by Kiss, this album tends to have more Judas Priest influences. I must also add that this album is defiantly not for everybody. Especially, if you’re not a fan of glam metal/80s metal. However, I happen to be a huge fan of the genre. The production is a lot better on this album, and Dimebag’s playing has really improved. Rex Brown, or Rexx Rocker as he was referred to back then, adds a nice groove with the bass. The drumming is also very good, and mix in pretty good with the songs. Terry Glaze users very high-pitched singing, which for the style of rock this is, is good.
All Over Tonight is the first track on the album. This song is very catchy, and after a few listens, you will probably know the lyrics by heart, and the riffs are also very catchy. The drumming stays very consistent throughout the song. Terry puts out a pretty good performance as well. My favorite part, though, is the guitar solo. Dimebag certainly was an awesome guitar player back then. There was also a video made for this song, which features them playing on stage. Awesome song! 10/10
Out For Blood is the first speed metal song on this album, and it sure is one awesome one at that. Add very catchy vocals, lightning fast drumming, plus another awesome solo, and you get another flawless killer of a song. I also enjoy the lyrics. “She’s out for blood!” That is cool as shit! 10/10
Blue Lite Turnin’ Red features one awesome minute and a half solo from Dimebag Darrel. In my opinon, this can compete with Van Halen, or any other 80s rock/metal band. 10/10
Like Fire is probably my favorite song on the album. It’s catchy, fun, and I really like the lyrics. Some people think lyrics about girls/sex is cheesy, but I personally think it’s cool as shit. Which is one of the reasons why I’m a big glam/hair metal fan. Once again, the drumming stays consistent, and the riffs are great, and fit right into the mix. Add yet another killer guitar solo, and you get one perfect song. 10/10
In Over My Head starts out with some nice synthesizer effects, which your average metalhead would frown upon, but is still cool, and it adds to the atmosphere of this song. This song also has nice riffs, and towards the end of the song, you get treated with a nice solo. About the only flaw this song has is Terry’s singing which is a little too girlish, and doesn’t really fit in right with the song. Nonetheless, it hardly hurts the song at all. 9/10
Then, comes Projects In The Jungle which is no doubt the heaviest song on this album. This would almost be borderline thrash, if they had the right vocalist for this song. However, it’s killer speed metal. Vinnie Paul adds a nice double-bass with drums, and the riffs are heavy as fuck! Dimebag’s solo is also very awesome. This could easily fit in with one of their later works (Power Metal comes to mind). 10/10
Heavy Metal Rules is, as the title says, is an awesome anthem about just that. Heavy fucking metal! The lyrics are metal themed, and sounds like something that Judas Priest would do. “I stick my fist high in the air! Heavy metal rules!!!!!” That’s heavy metal for you there! Dimebag also plays a nice solo. However, the riffs could be a little better. No complaints though, heavy metal rules, and so does this song. 9/10
Only A Heartbeat Away is probably the least memorable song on this album, and just like In Over My Head, Terry Glaze’s singing is a bit too girly. However, it’s till pretty good, as the solo saves this song from being below decent. 8/10
Killers is the final speed metal track on this album, and as stated in an earlier review, this is NOT an Iron Maiden cover. However, I’d say it’s just as heavy. The riffs are heavy, as well as the solo, the drumming is fast, and Terry’s singing is pretty cool as well. This is one of the better songs on here. 10/10
Then, we close this song off with a hair ballad called Takin’ My Life. For a ballad, it’s decent. Though, it’s not really my favorite track on here. Mainly, due to Terry’s singing which is as I’ve already stated is a little too girly. If it weren’t for Dimebag’s awesome solo, I’d probably give this song a 7. However, I’m bumping it up a notch just because of the solo. 8/10
As I’ve stated earlier, this album is not for everybody. If you’re not a fan of glam/hair metal, then I insist that you stay away from this album, as it has plenty of glam to go around. However, if you’re a huge fan of the genre (like I am), then defiantly get it. I’d recommend eBay which is how I got my hands on it. There are moments where the band was starting to become heavier (the title track comes to mind). This is an essential for any glam metal/80s metal fan.
This is where Pantera get the ball rolling with their careers not on "Vulgar Display of Power" like they would claim. They up the riffage, the album is a bit less glam and Dimes playing has improved. It's pretty comparable to the first crue albums as it's got the riffs and menace but with a big slice of glam.
The production is a lot clearer and louder and along with heavier riffs makes the sound SO much better than their first record. However, Terry Glaze and the lyrics are the big spanner in the works of the album. If the album had a vocalist with testicles and metal themed lyrics I'd give the album 20 more points.
Saying that there are a couple of pure metal numbers here..."Projects In The Jungle" and "Heavy Metal Rules". The latter is pretty dull but the former is the best track here! Speed Metal, like the title track on Metal Magic but this time with heavier riffs and drumwork and it's even reminiscent of the Cowboys album!! Yes back in 1984 they showed traces of where they were going to go. Awesome song.
Other highlights here include "All Over Tonight" which has another bludgeoning riff, "Like Fire" which whilst being glam lyrically has riffwork which is catchy as hell and "Killers" which is NOT an Iron Maiden Cover which most people think. It's pretty decent speed metal.
Most of the rest are mediocre love ballads but with above average riffs and "Blue Light Turnin Red" is a 3rd rate version of Van Halen's "Eruption".
Overall a half decent album. They started to use Judas Priest/Accept riffwork & the title track is brilliant. Track that down if you're interested in whether Pantera sounded heavy in the ol' days. You'll be surprised!