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An exercise in extravagant uselessness - 15%

JamesIII, February 15th, 2011

It has to be said that the more popular a band is upon their demise the more numerous the compilations tend to be chronicling their work. These numerous cash grabs are meant to invoke the casual fan to shell out their hard earned money upon seeing a familiar song amongst the track listing, providing little insight into the band as a whole. In this modern era of mp3s and playlists, such compilations seem obsolete but that certainly does little to stop the onslaught of such releases from contaminating store shelves.

Pantera is a band many love to hate, despite or perhaps because of, their immense popularity and the creative avenues they took to get there. The disparity between albums like “Cowboys from Hell” and “Far Beyond Driven” are relatively massive, especially if you examine the different vocal styles used and the different songwriting concepts employed, even if stylistically speaking they are not all that removed from one another. Since this is a band who encompassed a few different eras, any compilation looking to catalog their material has its work cut out for them and that’s where this skimpy little number misses the mark.

Anyone who obtained the “Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboy’s Vulgar Hits” will find this immediately pointless, if nothing more than a scaled down version of that already lacking compilation. What we have here are ten songs to document the career of a band that scaled 20+ years. Everything from their 1980’s repertoire is missing, which is a shame since I would have been tickled pink to see a few songs off “Power Metal” here even if their inclusion would have only added to the inconsistency of this set. The “Cowboys from Hell” album is represented well enough, taking up three of the allotted ten tracks. “Psycho Holiday” was a good choice in alongside the title track and “Cemetery Gates,” even if I believe “Domination” or “The Art of Shredding” might have fit in better here.

What really assaults the listener’s ears is the discrepancy between something as elaborate and sincere as “Cemetery Gates” and something as toned down as “Mouth for War.” The “Vulgar Display of Power” material clashes with its predecessors, not to mention the fact that the overlong “Walk” was tacked on here, a spot better suited to something like “Rise” or even “Hollow.” “Far Beyond Driven” is represented by its two token singles in “5 Minutes Alone” and “I’m Broken,” completely ignoring the better songs off that album like “Strength Beyond Strength” and “Slaughtered.” “Drag the Waters” and “Revolution Is My Name” represent “The Great Southern Trendkill” and “Reinventing the Steel” respectively. I can understand the latter case only getting one song, but its hard to imagine one measly song doing the “Trendkill” album justice, an album which surpassed its more famous predecessors and successors.

“A Decade of Domination” was a poor title choice for this little piece of plastic, since it most certainly does not represent Pantera in a dignified manner. Mostly these are the songs that the public is the most familiar with, not the ones which best represent Pantera on a creative level. This Texan outfit was certainly not the most prolific metal band, far from it, but I find it hard to believe that anyone who took this band halfway seriously could do the same for this useless waste of space.