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A Bit Disappointing... - 45%

pinpals, June 25th, 2009

Amongst the metalhead community, Pantera is usually considered one of those bands for inexperienced n00bs who are just getting into the metal genre. Anyone who claims that "Far Beyond Driven" is one of the greatest metal albums is lowered to about the same level as those who think koRn "used" to be a good band and those who claim that Slayer never sold out. However, it is "acceptable" to consider "Cowboys From Hell" a good album (which it was) and a slightly smaller but still influential circle deem that finding that "The Great Southern Trendkill" was an unfairly overlooked and underrated album is an acceptable point of view. Personally, I don't really give a damn about following the opinions of the metal community (I think Avenged Sevenfold is metal, so what?), but I bought into the hype surrounding this album. I quickly snatched up a brand new copy of "The Great Southern Trendkill" in the clearance bin at a local record store (for only $5). I was quite proud of my find because at the time of the purchase, this album was out of print and not as easy to find (it has since been re-released and is readily available).

It turns out that perhaps this album was hyped a bit too much, for even though there is nowhere near as much awful "groove" type stuff, this isn't that "far" removed from the previous album. The main change is in vocalist Phil Anselmo's vocal approach. He adapts a tone more similar to what he used with Down's first album, as opposed to the fierce but also tedious yelling of "Far Beyond Driven." There's also a slight decrease in the macho tough-guy posturing, but those expecting a return, lyric-wise and vocal-wise, to the "Cowboys" days will be disappointed.

The album actually starts off in great fashion with the title track, featuring yells from Anal Cunt's Seth Putnam. Dimebag has a couple of good riffs and has a decent solo at the end where he actually shreds, although he drags and plods a bit by repeating himself for the second half of the solo. This is probably the last heavy Pantera song that can be considered "very good" (I would hesitate to call it "great"). Also, we have an amazing, oft-overlooked acoustic song in "Suicide Note Pt. 1." The atmosphere of this song is just so intense; it's a shame that Pantera did not try something like this again, choosing instead to pursue mindless heaviness. What's even worse is that part two of this song is just awful. It borders on noise and is one of the worst songs on the album, completely destroying the atmosphere and feeling of part one.

Dimebag continues his descent into obscurity throughout "The Great Southern Trendkill." With the exception of the title track, Dimebag's solos are pretty much effects and screeches, which are more boring than anything else. The riffs are mostly stale and one has to wonder whether the lackluster guitar work, both on rhythm and lead, is a result of misguided actual effort or just laziness. Dimebag has shown that he has the talent, but his often mediocre work keeps otherwise decent songs like "10's" and "Drag the Waters" from taking off.

I guess for fans of metal that seek only loud music to bang one's head to, this might be a worthwhile purchase, but even then there are better albums out there that achieve similar and/or even better results. For the standard non-Pantera-fanboy metalhead, this will probably be at the same level as the albums that bookend "The Great Southern Trendkill." The best bet is to download the title track and the first "Suicide Note" part on Itunes or some similar program. For those who are a bit more curious, feel free to search bargain bins everywhere, but your money is best spent elsewhere.