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Now I think I should be clear, it takes one fucking bad album to get a 0% from me. Every album has redeeming qualities that keep it above this mark. However, all of Vulgar Display of Power's redeeming qualities are overshadowed by this album's exercise's in crap. What exactly did this album do to deserve this rating? It pretty much annihilated the already shaky foundations of one Metal genre, and singlehandedly invented MALLCORE, thats what. Musically the album isn't quite as bad as some of the albums that would follow, but it still would only earn this joke of a band a good 30-40% rating. Of course the music isn't the only thing thats so terrible about this album.
Any hope Pantera had os salvaging their artistic ability and becoming a solid, even average Groove-Thrash mix was killed with this album. Any hope from any thrasher who thought Pantera might save their vanishing scene in one way or another was destroyed, crushed, and annihilated under a display of power. A power to sell records no matter how much it cost them their artistic credibility. Even worse is the effect on the already shaky metal scene. Bands realized that THIS was the way they would survive the 90's. That THIS was the only way to preserve their careers as musicians.
In that respect, this album has done more bad for heavy metal then Nirvana or Kurt Cobain ever could have done. No this album didn't kill glam, glam had been effectively dead for years. This album killed what was left of the Thrash scene in a kick it when it was down sort of way. Kurt Cobain had put the entire Thrash scene on its last legs, and Pantera had finished the desperate old man off. Its a shame it had to be THIS album that caught on, because their were plenty of better alternatives out there at the time.
Well on to the music, although I doubt it will prove much more pro-Pantera. There is one legitimate attempt at ownage here, and it happens to be the first song on the album Mouth For War. Of course the 2 Thrash riff's contained within the song are overshadowed by Groove-Infected main riff that sounds like a band that couldn't write a decent riff to save their life. The vocal tracks ruin it even more, s Phil Anselmo proceeds to continue doing his Kyle Thomas imitation vocals, which kill what value this song might have had, not that its a tragic loss to the world. Up next is, another groove track, A New Level which basically is everything that this poseur band has done wrong put into one glorified piece of shit. Yes the entire song is a piece of crap, from the groove infected riff's to the angst filled Slipknot-esqe lyrics. What is even more damning is that this is hailed as "aggressive" or "more aggressive then any Thrash" by the genre's supporters. Maybe if you've only heard Metallica, but go listen to Darkness Descends and try and call this album aggressive. What is so damning is the praise this album receives. They didn't jump on Dark Angel's Time Does Not Heal or even Exhorder's first 2 releases, they jumped on this very fucking album by this very fucking band. This album took the bastardization of metal to "A New Level", and s such that song is probably the perfect representation of what the Groove trend/movement did to Metal. No longer did someone have to release technical masterpiece, something extreme, or even an Master of Puppets clone to get noticed, they just had to release heaping pile of simplified Groove's, based on a watered down version of Exhorder's style.
Third song, basically the biggest parody on the metal genre ever to exist. However, Walk was not something new to the scene. Self proclaimed hits such as Enter Sandman already used the formula that infects every part of this song, which is basically a single groove infected riff, repeated over and over again before adding in a quick guitar solo that no doubt sped up the process for Jason Becker becoming paralyzed. Let us not forget what this single song did to metal. Unlike Enter Sandman, Pantera had the idea to down tune their guitar even further. I have no doubt that Robb Flynn, already going nuts over the Thing That Should Not Be, realized that he could play many songs exactly like this, and that he could be praised for his half-assed cash grab. It was this song that probably made floundering thrasher's Sepultura, fresh out of thrash riffs, realize that their was an easier way out. It made thousands of would be grunge teens believe that this was heavy and would eventully lead them to buy Korn and Limp Bizkit albums. It changed being a metalhead from a dedicated lifestyle and culture, to something anyone could do. Its this song that is the mainstreams final victory over "Diamond" Darrel Abbot, who while not great, lost his integrity, his style, and his image with this one anthem.
Next up, is the bands attempt at a Thrashy song, but fails due to the guitar tuning/production, and very quickly adds in pointless groove sections that kill the few seconds of metal thrashing madness. This song might as well be the anthem of people who claim Pantera was a thrash band, which is the most stupid thing I've ever heard, because it is the closest Pantera would come on this album. The tempo is certainly refreshing after sitting through the back to back 4-5 Minute groove-fests. Of course this song, even if it was Thrash, was a piece of watered down thrash, or a parody of it possibly, because the song is the biggest example of pointless aggression against nothing (perfect angsty lyrics right there) that I've ever seen in my history of metal listening.
Up next is a joke of a ballad. "This Love" which seems to be more in the vein of their Glam Metal days. I honestly am surprised they bothered with this song at all, but its obviously just another page to the band's history of conformity. Not only does the band break the proper rules of a ballad, set since the days of Black Sabbath, the band kills any notion of an attempt at not being pure angst filled crap parading as "Neo-Thrash". Honestly their is nothing left to say about the ballad, other then the fact that its a sad excuse for a song with meaning. Although if you love "This Love" you may also love bands such as HIM
Up next is "Rise" which actually hints at thrash for about 10 seconds, and has various up tempo parts, but still fails miserably. The random groove riff's and drumming sections make this a song without good variation, a song of randomness of pointlessness. This is another showing of Pantera's strength, which basically came up when they weren't trying to be "Teh Gr00vemastaz!". The song might as well be a final curtain call of musical value for Pantera, as the rest of the album might as well be the same track over and over again. Hell if it wasn't for the horribly down-tuned guitar "Rise" might pass as half-assed Thrash. As such the entire song's lyrics are so cheesy, corny, so non-threatening I had a hard time believing anyone calls them thrash.
Finally I get to the meat of the matter, "No Good Attack The Radical" is just another symptom of the groove disease. Its the perfect display of Pantera's "Attitude" which is to use a non-threatening tough-guy approach to things. With song lyrics that basically say "Attack the guy who isn't with you, defend you clan!" was effectively the beginning of every Mallcore kid being able to feel like a tough guy. No longer dida person have to listen to real heavy stuff, thanks to the angst laden lyrics of Pantera's groove laden tracks here. No longer did you have to listen to Thrash to be a tough guy, no longer did you have to listen to something complicated to be tough, you just had to listen to something with 1-2 riff's repeated over again. This shines light on the posuerism of Pantera. For you see I have several secrets to let you in on, but a warning to all Pantera fan boy's, you won't like them.
You see, Pantera never had the spark, the "Rotten To The Core" part in them. They were never metal kids, they were never thrashers, they never beat up glam metal kids, because they were "Glam kids to the core". They never understood the rage, and never had the metal edge to them. For you see, they were the very thing that they claimed to hate, trend-followers. They followed the glam scene until its popularity was up, and found themselves unable to make a living dressing as women and using cheesy stage names. So they changed their style around the same time Metallica became popular, to a more Thrash oriented release. Yet in the end it was not this that would kill this bands credibility. The band needed to go one step further, take one more step so they could start anew and ride the next trend's popularity as far as they could. Perhaps they were in New Orleans, or elsewhere, but its obvious even to the stupidest individuals that somewhere they got a copy of New Orlean's thrasher's Exhorder's demo. Pantera was in a dillema. If they stayed Glam/Speed Metal oriented the scene would bury them, but if they used the slight name they'd gained in the texas area to push an Exhorder based sound they would easily be able to get away with it and take their success to another level. It was a long shot, but Pantera had found a plan that they could ride all the way to the ends of earth. Thus Pantera preceded to recruit a new vocalist, and create a watered down version of Exhorder. I'll tell you one thing, no matter the successs, the fame, the fortune that Pantera made, they will never have one thing Exhorder had, the metal madness. For you see, Pantera changed their music to save themselves, where as Exhorder stayed Rotten to the Core until the very end. Exhorder has an ounce of self respect, and didn't use a tough guy image to cover up their well known crimes to the metal community at large.
Well Pantera at this stage took it to the next level, having already taken Exhorder's sound, they decided to water it down further and add a stereotypical non-threatening tough guy image that could pass as a parody of Thrash akin only to Lawnmower Deth. This parody was known as Cowboy's From Hell, and it was actually not that bad, watered down or not. The band played a respectable groove-thrash mix, poseurs or not. However, it was this band that felt the huge weight of guilt crush them. It was this band that realized they had done wrong, but instead of becoming more tough, more Rotten to the Core, more original, they released this pile of dung-heap. They watered themselves down a step further, all for the sales, the popularity, and to crush Exhorder into the ground. By 1994, with Exhorder gone, they had to bury any remaining memory of the Thrash scene, and "Far Beyond Driven" did just that. It would be this pile of junk titled Far Beyond Driven that would influence every mallcore band from a-z. The band continued to make hypocritical statements to make the band seem more rotten, more mean, more tough, and it was all to cover up their former selves.
The band issued hypocritical statements, such as: "We've survived every fucking trend. Heavy metal, grunge metal, funk metal, rap metal – and we're still here. We put everyone on notice that we don't fuck around. Our fans know we're true right down to the fucking core." Which is pure bullshit. The band has followed every popular trend from Glam to Metallica, to Groove Metal. Hell they even started conforming more towards Nu-Metal crowds at the end of it all. Pantera are nothing but posers, who have followed every single trend. Hell Vinnie Paul even claimed Pantera wasn't a radio band, when "Walk" was one of the biggest radio hits of all time!
They even had the gall to lie about their better glam years existing, denying their existence completely. That is the mark of a band that is ashamed of itself. And yet, despite this, they were praised to no end. Well kid's remember, Pantera is the reason we have Korn, the reason we have Metalcore, and the reason we have Lamb of God. They ushered in a new era of metal that people could just "bob their head" or "groove" to. Their legacy lives on in bands such as Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, and Damageplan. It was their ignorance of real metal that led to the ideal that anyone could be a metal kid, and that myth that Nu-Metal is heavy.
You can hear the band's last hurrah in "Hollow" if you listen closely enough. The mark of a band that in their hollow existence has done more damage to metal then any band before or after. This album in particular spawned Korn, and all their imitators. Best not to listen if you have any self respect left at this point. Their is much better metal to be found. It was this knowledge that killed "Dimebag" Darrel Abbot. The knowledge that his career was based upon rip off's, lies, and a poser attitude. The myth of Pantera's greatness even has spread to Kyle Thomas of Exhorder, who has become a self hater in many respects. But he was right to want to separate Exhorder from Pantera, because Exhorder was twice the band Pantera ever was and could ever be. Exhorder worked harder, played faster, and were truly the embodiment of metal kids. Pantera were a lost band looking for an image.
This album gets 1 Point, for the fact that Fucking Hostile is a solid Thrasher. Well kid's, I suggest you find another trend to latch onto, this one has been cooked. Pantera wrote their tomb-stones as musicians the second they decided to switch their sound. Dimebag Darrell died in 2004, and Pantera broke up in 2003. In reality, Diamond Darrell passed away in 1987, as did Pantera. Best to avoid this one at all costs, if you have your decency left. This album's redeeming qualities are destroyed by the new era of false metal that it spawned.