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I can tell you with utmost confidance that this is the EXACT point where Pantera sold out. Cowboys From Hell was great, despite the obvious direction it was heading in. I remember I used to listen to this and Far Beyond Driven when I was 14, and I thought it was the heaviest thing around. After less than a year, it grew old. I discovered death metal and black metal, started listening to true thrash as well, and this sounded fake by comparison. I will maintain that Pantera have only done 2 good albums, and they were Power Metal and Cowboys From Hell. Everything else blew balls because it was too commercial.
I'm sure you know what the music sounds like, but if you don't, it's basically a tuff guy shouting over dull groove riffs and dumbed down drumming. The bass is inaudible, and I'm sure Rex was only there for the money. Gone are the searing riffs, gone are the ear piercing screams, and gone is the double bass heavy drumming of the past.
Lots of people claim this is where Pantera got good, and will hail this and Far Beyond Driven as the pinnacle of Pantera's thrash. Well, first off, this isn't thrash. It's thrashy, but do not confuse thrashy with thrash. Slipknot is thrashy, but they are not thrash by any stretch of the imagination (nor are they metal, as you all know.) This is a member of a genre I have grown to hate, groove metal. Everybody knows how many thrash bands quit innovating and quit shredding when it ceased to be cool to do so and started grooving. Grooving is a code word for writing uninspired one string riffs that are fun to play for a few seconds while you're fucking around in a jam session, but are pretty much useless for anything else.
Now, I will devote a special section of this to Walk. FUCK THAT SONG. The most overplayed, overrated, and shitty song Pantera ever made. At least on future releases they managed to have SOME kind of complexity. This is 0-0-1-0-0-0-1-0-0-0-1-0-0 repeat. That's not a riff. That's dinking around on the lowest string. That's numetal territory. Even Got The Life by Korn has a better riff than that. And the drumbeat is no worse. Unlike, say, Stengah by Meshuggah, where it's excusable because the drumming saves it, the drumming does no such service here. Here it's all basic 6/8 stuff even a novice could do. What really pisses me off about this whole affair is that I KNOW Darrell Abbott and co. are clearly capable of better. I know Vinnie Abbott can drum better, or at least catchier beats, I know Darrell Abbott can come up with better riffs, and I KNOW Phil Anselmo is capable of better singing than this. This is that strained "tuff guy" singing that everybody from Trivium to Annihilator does nowadays, and it's such a shit way of singing. If you're gonna sing, sing right. If you're gonna growl, growl. But don't do this halfsies shit. Such a fucking waste of talent.
Now that I'm through ranting about Walk, that above paragraph pretty much applies to the whole album. Oversimplistic shit riffs, oversimplistic shit singing, oversimplistic shit drumming, and inaudible bass that might as well be oversimplistic and shit. Notice a common theme here? I have never seen such an outbreak commercialis selloutus before or so clearly defined. They clearly traded good riffs and good songs for fame and fortune. Maybe they decided that it took too much effort to write good songs, so they decided to halfass it. While this isn't nu-metal, it so clearly influenced nu-metal that it might as well be nu-metal, much as how although Iron Maiden weren't power metal, they so clearly influenced power metal to such a high degree they might as well be power metal. The only difference is that power metal is fucking awesome, and nu-metal is fucking shit. So guess where that puts post-cowboys Pantera? That's right, in the fucking used bin.
Guess what I did with Far Beyond Driven and Vulgar Display of Power? I sold them at Rasputin for a combined amount of 11 bucks, and bought a gram of weed and a bluntwrap with that money. And you know what? Even though I'm clean now and am in Narcotics Anonymous, I must say that 11 bucks was much better spent on grass, who's effects only lasted me a few hours, than the twenty something odd bucks combined I spent on those terrible CD's.