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The last sputter before the engine dies. - 62%

hells_unicorn, November 12th, 2006

I picked up a second hand copy of this album a few months after it came out, and it immediately got a treatment that I rarely give a CD, a use of the repeat button on a single track in “Revolution is my Name”. At the time I was still occasionally tuning into VH1 and had seen the video several times. It always associated it with some of the better moments on the Trendkill release, which I had gotten into not long before. Recently I gave this one another listen and found out that there were some positive things going on here, though nothing that stood out as being phenomenal.

Pretty much we have 5 songs on here that qualify as good, while 2 others are listenable and the other 3 are completely groove dominated throwaways. I can’t still figure out why Pantera resorted to writing more groove material, when it was being taken up by the likes of Limp Bizkit and other posers in the Nu-Metal scene. “We’ll Grind that Axe for a Long Time” is kind of self-refuting lyrically when you think about, it is bitching about the establishment, when in fact Pantera had pretty much become the establishment in their own right. They actually sought to protest the fact that pop bands keep recycling their material, and then proceeds to write a song about it over a set of riffs recycled from “Mouth for War”, excuse me while I step aside for a moment to laugh my ass off.

Things are slightly less ridiculous lyrically on “You’ve got to belong to it”, but the guitar riffs are fucking comical sounding as hell. Dimebag Darrel was a decent guitar player, although amongst the flock of shredders in the 80s he was par for the course, but here it just doesn’t show at all. That annoying as hell high end guitar effect that he uses for the break down section just kills it for me, let alone the fact that we have way too much groovy repetition in the riff section. “Goddamn Electric” (Goddamn Boring would be more appropriate) has more groove, ergo it sucks as bad as most of their early 90s material. It’s too fucking slow, the riffs are under-developed and dry sounding, and Phil’s vocals sound as nauseating as they did on VDoP.

On the mediocre side of things, “Uplift” has its moment, but is mostly a more up tempo variation of the same groove crap that I just went through. The main riff is solid, but repeated way too much. The bridge before the chorus sounds almost like something Jimi Hendrix would do. During the solo section things are pretty cool, and the guitar and bass have a brief lead duel, something rare for this band. “I’ll cast a shadow” has a nice up tempo intro, but then it settles into a groove for the verse, and I begin to lose interest until the tempo picks up again. Phil is occasionally singing in a clean voice, which is a positive as even after 3 albums of screaming his lungs out he can’t get that low death metal voice right at all.

On the more positive side of things, “Hellbound” learns the lesson of previous albums and elects to keep things short, and properly balances out the groovy sections with the more Black Metal sounding chorus. “Yesterday don’t mean shit” has a hell of an awesome thrash riff in it, which almost sounding like it could have been on “Seasons in the Abyss” by Slayer. “Death Rattle” is a great speed metal song featuring some solid riffing, unfortunately I had to go through 5 other songs to get to it, usually the fast cooker is track 2. “It Makes the Disappear” starts off with a goofy guitar effect, but then gets cooking with another great thrash riff and basically keeps it interesting for the entire song.

And the grand highlight of this album is the single “Revolution is my Name”, and it stands strong in it’s delivery of a single message, this band is finally finished beating a dead horse. They got some good licks in on the decaying stallion corpse with Trendkill, but ultimately their glory days were gone with the end of the year 1991. This song encompasses all the best thrash ideas that were found on Cowboys from Hell and the few diamonds that you can pull out of the rough of VDoP and FBD, in addition to one last effort by Phil Anselmo to sing with his voice rather than fart through his mouth.

Not long after this Pantera called it quits and they did it 8 years too late if you ask me. One of the common misconceptions people have about those who were angry with this band is that they were angry because they were successful, they may articulate that anger in such a way that one would think that, but actually the reason for the anger lay in the inferior product they put out. Vulgar Display of Power was a contrived piece of garbage that tried to marry thrash with groove metal, Far Beyond Driven was a slightly better produced version of the exact same thing, and the Great Southern Trendkill was a properly focused expression of rage towards the truly bad elements of human society. So where does this album fall into that mix you ask? It falls somewhere in between the first two and the third one, pure and simple. It has some nostalgic moments to it, most of them borrowed from better days; otherwise it is a self-contradictory attempt to free itself from its own success. When a person becomes the leader of a country, he is laughed at and called an idiot if he complains about the direction that it’s going, because he is the one determining the direction. Pantera bitched about the mainstream, and continued to do so long after the mainstream made them rich for the musical compromises they made with it. It is fashionable non-conformity in the same vain as Kurt Cobain, only in his case he never had any great accomplishments to throw away, Pantera did and it will haunt them for the rest of their careers.

In conclusion, this CD is bargain bin material. Half of this album is good; the other half is either forgettable or painfully horrid. I bought this CD off a friend who didn’t want it anymore for $6, and I still feel like I got ripped off as even today I could get the good songs off it for less through legal MP3 downloads, despite price inflation. The lost generation of early 90s metal heads who lived for the groove will like some of this, but everyone else should stick to real metal, something that Pantera had forgotten about a while ago