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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 There is the album closer, "Takin' My Life", which features a cheesy outdated-sounding synthesizer that overpowers the guitars at times.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.