Pantera is one of those bands that has generated a hype of fanboys surrounding it, not unlike metallica. I've met people that swear by this band, and honestly to God believe this band is the sickest one ever. And that's a literal quote, folks. And definitely there are some songs on here that are definitely good. But overall, I find Pantera to be an overbearing display of vanity and rather mediocre, except for the guitars. To me, this band gets a lot more hype than it actually deserves.
Now why would Pantera be overhyped? First of all, people don't seem to understand that vocals and the sound of the band are very important. Pantera had enlisted Phil Anselmo for this duty. However, Phil has been more busy with drugs than proper singing. His vocals are gruff, offkey, and in no way are they likeable. I know most thrash bands aren't known for their vocals, but please, come on, just give me someone that can actually growl. They can be tolerable though, for example on the classic Pantera song "Walk", which also directly represents the best song on the album. The lyrics are more of a "look at us WE R HEAVY METAL" kind of thing, as exemplified on the terrible ***ing Hostile. With songs and lyrics like that, it's just hard to take these guys seriously.
Second, because the variety level is nonexistent. Every song, bar Hollow, has the same "awesome riff, shouting killing the song, more riff, ok solo, terrible chorus" formula. It's plain boring. Not to mention Phil's voice coming through like a wounded rhinoceros bellowing at the top of his lungs every song just makes the album a ***ing drag at times. If Phil could maybe sing in more than two styles, one of which is "growl" and the other is"annoying wail", or maybe if Pantera had just replaced this guy, they'd have been a lot better.
Then there's the rhythm section, which does absolutely nothing of interest here. Sure, they keep the beat, but I don't see the bassist doing anything spectacular or straying with a single note, in fact, I can't even HEAR a bassist over Dime's downtuned riffs. Yeah, there are drums, but it's nothing really overly complex, Vinnie can obviously keep a beat but any displays of technicality or skill are too much too ask. Yeah, he can speed the tempo up a bit too, like on ***ing Hostile and Rise, but to say this guy is excellent on the drums is kind of blowing his skills out of proportion. He's not bad at all, and he isn't nearly as annoying as Anselmo, but to say this guy is the best drummer ever is a tad(read: a lot) bigheaded.
Of course, this album does have its good points. Namely, Dimebag. I don't care how much you hate this band, at least Dime has a sense of what he's doing. His riffs may be a little similar, at least they're full of aggression and anger. They're definitely badass, and his solos, while sometimes being able to resemble pointless wankery better known as shredding, are without doubt technically top-notch and proficient. However, just the guitars can't really a band. It's a big step up the ladder though, at least there was a guy in here who knew what the hell he was doing. It's a pity they shot Dime, because in his new band Damageplan he'd released an outing which far outstrips Pantera's work.
There are some highlight songs on this album, that due to Phil not being completely annoying and Dime showing off his class qualify as either competent or above average. Walk has a ***ing classy riff, and I can really shout along with the chorus, probably Pantera's best track ever, although the Damageplan version outshines it considerably. Live in a Hole and Mouth For War are the two other tracks that get stamped with the satisfactory label. The riffs in both songs are kickass, and the vocals/lyrics are not annoying enough to kill the track, plus the solo in Live In A Hole is of excellent skill.
The rest of the album however, is awfully average and mediocre. If you're into thrash or heavy metal, I think you're better off sticking to Slayer, Megadeth, Damageplan or whatever else-have you. If you're a fanboy or collector or like that "we have balls" attitude, this is for you, but it's definitely not as good as it's made out to be. And this is their best album in my opinion: overrated is definitely the best way to describe this band. Look elsewhere if you want to please your heavy metal senses.