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One can see the decay that was slipping into the Pantera camp during this new "Reinventing the Steel" album. While a quality "party-death" metal album it was, it certainly wasn't the focused surge of "Far Beyond Driven" or the strange redneck-genius of "Trendkill". Pantera weren't together for this, the songs were obviously written by two seperate parties hiding from one another and the vibe is a disjointed one at worst and a loose ass-kicking at best. This may be the album with the most style over substance...but it's obvious that Pantera weren't in this for the focused attack but to keep the name alive through hard times for a band that has taken the stick from the underground and often faced accusations of being pretenders to the throne.
In terms of songwriting, the record has three or four knucklehead classics in "Hellbound", "Yesterday Don't Mean Shit" and "Death Rattle". Much of the record though is sloppy, with terrible vocal melodies that show Phil losing his way around the often sloppy riff-structures. Is much of it enjoyable but lacking in hook? Sure. Is this anything compared to "Far Beyond Driven" or "Trendkill"? Hardly. One can still feel the redneck-beer-rage spitting from the mix, but one can hardly remember most of it once the record has completed it's running order. "Death Rattle" and "Yesterday Don't Mean Shit" though served as passable singles that save the band from sinking into the "angry but directionless" mess that this could have been.
The seeds of dissention and musical disagreement can be heard on this release in plain form. Thankfully though, the bands commercial grunt-and-roar approach does provide a few sure kickers to keep the Pantera party moving...
It's half-good, half-horrible and all somewhat pointless for a band that had managed a strange classic only one album before...