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The worst humanity has to offer - 0%

BloodIronBeer, November 8th, 2007

Allow me to point out something that I think very few people are aware of. The word "vulgar" meaning crude or obscene is something of an evolution. Though archaic, the word can mean "common". This was it's original meaning. It's not hard to imagine how amongst the upper class, things that were "common" and "crude" were viewed as one in the same. It's also not hard to imagine that they'd bear the same general negative connotation.

That said, the title of this album is incredibly ironic. Pantera is a band that produced nothing in their career but imitation pseudo-thrash yet were hailed as legendary for absolutely no reason that anyone can come up with any semblance of an excuse for. The irony of the word "vulgar" in the title, is the fact that they are the ultimate generic, faceless band. For the common kind of folks who would be considered casual metal fans. If such a thing existed. But it doesn't. I don't know anyone who owns this album, and a Venom album - enough said.

My point is: It's not unusual to find a "common" teenage male, i.e. one who does not listen to metal, listening to this album. It has the rare distinction of being so bland that it can somehow appeal to any ordinary person. It is vulgar. It's tailor fit for any angsty male to relate to this on some vague, juvenile and generic level.

But anyway, the music - the fathomlessly awful, unlistenable music:

The band's sound is comprised almost entirely of two things: a very transparent, bland influence, being Metallica (with a touch of Black Sabbath), and a style they stole, yet take credit for, the sound of Louisianna thrashers Exhorder. Prior to hearing Exhorder and deciding to rip their sound off, Pantera played glam metal.

The production on this album is obnoxiously crisp, and the guitar tone is passable at best. There is approximately two thrash riffs on this album, both of which would be on Mouth For War. Again, a good deal of the riffs are rearranged Metallica and Black Sabbath riffs (Irony: two of the most "commonly” recognized metal bands). The rest borrow the rhythmic riffs and vocal approach of Exhorder. Exhorder was good, not great, but at least they were actually thrash. This contains too much groovy and sluggish parts, with much too passive vocals.

The vocals are far and away one of the worst parts of this ridiculous excuse for thrash. It's clear to see that many less than favorable styles of music were influenced by this, namely tough guy hardcore and nu-metal. That is precisely what these vocals are. Weak, fringe vocals - wanting to put up the facade of aggression, but making it moderately clean, lest the mainstream wouldn't accept it. Sometimes just shy of Kurt Cobain other times sounding like a poor man's version of James Hetfeild. Occasionally distortion is exploited to feign harshness (such as in "Fucking Hostile") In a couple of songs Phil even attempts to sing. It's really embarrassing, off key, and 120% cheesy. Absolutely unlistenable, but then again, so are the rest of the vocals. Generally speaking, it is rare to find music that is actively bad, and in actuality - unlistenable. Some unlistenable bands are those that try much too hard to be different or sonically offensive (pick any retarded bedroom black metal project or absurd avant-garde band) However, a lot of music, under any genre is mostly made up of people imitating greater bands, and doing it well enough that they can't be god awful - and the irony again here is that Pantera are complete music thieves yet manage to completely fail in every conceivable aspect, yet still earn endless praise.

For being one of the most revered guitarists in mainstream "metal", Darrel Abbott certainly seems to be missing an assortment of things required to make a great guitarist. His tone is unbearably overproduced, far too trebly and not particularly very heavy. The solos are nonsensical, and aimless. He runs through two octaves of a scale, does a divebomb and everyone's impressed. It's not that 1992's standards were much (if any) lower than they are today. I really don't get it. The riffs are just inane. Daft. Goofy. Impotent. Inept. Boring. There aren't enough demeaning words in the English language to fully express how poor these riffs are. Some riffs are one chord played in a dull rhythm. Abbott manage to take Metallica, Black Sabbath and Exhorder riffs, slap them together and make them completely bland, and harmless. Legendary guitarists are normally so deemed because of innovation (Jimi Hendrix) or technical prowess (Yngwie Malmsteen) - neither of whom do I take much of a liking to, but I can certainly understand their popularity, especially among guitarists. But what did Abbott do? He's certainly not innovative in the least, and his technical prowess hardly extends beyond any given guitarist with a decent amount of chops. Pick a country, and I'll give you 10 bands that were playing way better, more innovative stuff in 1992.

The song No Good features a spoken word part that sounds better suited for a jazz song. And the lyrics - another defining point of this band. Boorish, lowbrow, and perfectly geared toward temperamental teenagers who are angry that they're parents wouldn't buy them a new car. They mostly consist of themes about beating people up and how generally tough they are. The poster child for juvenile lyrics. Again, I'm pretty sure this influenced every tough guy hardcore band in the world. Not to mention Nu-metal. Just listen to the main riff of Walk - if that's not nu-metal, than Slipknot is the most brutal death metal band ever to grace the planet.

It would be one thing for the band to be as horrendous as they are - but to be so influential, and such obvious hacks - it's a travesty. How could such a completely worthless band become so popular and widely acclaimed? I could believe it's a conspiricy bigger than the JFK assassination, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Roswell and 9-11 combined. How else could I hope to explain that and still retain any sort of optimism toward humanity?

This music - and I use the word mildly - is a complete embarresment and a bad influence on popular music and culture. Literally, only two of these songs are even listenable - Rise and Mouth for War. Saying they’re listenable is by no means clearing them from the abysmal ceaspool that the rest of the album stews in. I would think one’s knowledge of metal would have to be infinitesemal to believe this band is worth a second of your time in the sea of bands that utterly obliterate this in every way, shape and form. You would have to know just as little about guitar playing to think Darrel Abbott is anything but a hack. Too often the term “unlistenable” or “unbearable” is thrown around, because here I truly mean it - I absolutely cannot make it through all but two songs on this album. This is one of the lowest points in the history of metal, and one of the worst albums I’ve ever heard.