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Oh, Pantera. This album...I thought it was quite something when I was younger. But I've gone on to more mature tastes since then, and this album isn't the Holy Grail I once thought it was. However, it is far from devoid of enjoyment. Vulgar Display of Power is NOT an album to be scrutinized. A lot of people don't enjoy Vulgar Display, but perhaps they take it a bit too seriously. Anyway, let's observe this puzzling little phenomenon of a CD.
Vulgar Display starts out with a pretty great riff by Dimebag Darrell, one of my favorite metal guitarists of all time. Mouth For War is a good opener, and probably one of the LESS stupid tunes on Vulgar. However, something starts to go amiss on A New Level-for example, we hear the line "...shit on, pissed on, fucked with"...and you begin to wonder HOW seriously Pantera themselves took this CD. After the first chorus of Walk, you abandon all hope of seriousness. Finally, you take off your thinking cap and start to enjoy the album as it was meant to be-asinine fun.
The riffs throughout Vulgar are rock-solid. Dimebag always delivers the finest as always, even on the with the "Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh....duh-nuh-nuh-nuh....duh-nuh-nuh-nuhWEEOWEEOW" on Walk. It's silly and simple, but you'll probably remember it when the CD is over. Strangely, the album's outtake Piss had some of the more memorable guitar work. You could probably just buy Piss and listen to it 12 times and get a gist of Vulgar Display of Power. But I digress. Dimebag pulls the time-honored bait and switch riffs on us on several tracks-start with one riff, stick with it for 20some seconds, then change it just in time for the lyrics to kick in.
Oh god, the LYRICS. The whole album is permeated with a "WE'LL PUNCH YOU IN YER FUCKIN' FACE" spirit, and the effectiveness varies from "not feeling it" to "hilariously failed". In fact, the ONE TRACK that doesn't try to do this (This Love) is the most hilarious, because of how out of place it feels, and how fast it changes from the crooning, Layne Staley-esque self parody to the downright funniest chorus on the album-I won't spoil it, but it's classic in all the wrong ways. Plenty of cheese throughout the lyrics.
There are some ultimately notable tracks-This Love, obviously, and No Good (Attack the Radical). Now, what makes me bring up No Good is that it has one of the strangest, most out-of-place moments in what is already an awkward enough disc-Phil Anselmo's attempt at rapping. This is BARELY any better than James Hetfield on Some Kind of Monster, but I enjoy it much more because of the pure corniness of Phil's delivery. There is another one that I want to mention-Rise. Anselmo's vocals on this track are so bad you wonder at times if he's speaking or just singing WAY off key. A lot of people seem to like Hollow, but to me it's too much like This Love to really grab and hold me.
Unless you are a morbidly obese 12 year old who feels like his parents don't "understand" him, you will feel no "emotional" connection to this album. The heaviness is there, but at times it's forced, like on the chorus to This Love. The riffing is the strongest point here, but really the deciding factor of the album is this: Did you like Primal Concrete Sledge on Cowboys From Hell? Enough to listen to it again 9 times with some awkward, poorly chosen "ballads" and *snort* a RAP song? If the answer to both of those questions is "yes", Vulgar Display is for you. If not, then just walk away, and wash your hands after touching it.