Review Summary: Tasty music, utterly pointless release.
From their humble beginnings as a glam metal act from Arlington, Texas in imitation of the Sunset Strip scene in Los Angeles, Pantera were an underground favourite but it was not until Phil Anselmo joined in 1988 and the band renounced their glam ways that the band broke new ground, becoming one of the founders and key innovators of post-thrash metal music, dubbed ‘groove metal’. The crushing, downtuned guitar attack of Dimebag Darrell, aggressive vocal work of Phil, groovey bass work from Rex and tight drum rhythms of Vinnie Paul, Pantera became hugely popular for taking heavy metal and making it even heavier. Their major label debut Cowboys from Hell
was a huge success for them and are still cited today as one of the most influential bands in metal history. Pantera dissolved in 2003 and Dimebag was tragically shot to death by a deranged fan while performing with his new band Damageplan in 2004.
It is inevitable that when a band has had so much influence on a musical genre like Pantera had on heavy metal, in time at least one ‘Greatest Hits’ or ‘Best Of ’ compilation will be released, even if the band has been long gone, to either serve as a cash grab for the record companies by cashing in on the popularity and success of the group or as a genuine introduction to the band for casual fans. In 2003, one such compilation was issued, known as The Best Of Pantera: Far Beyond the Great Southern Cowboy’s Vulgar Hits!
in America or simply Reinventing Hell
internationally. This year, twenty years after the release of the band’s smash major label debut Cowboys From Hell
, another greatest hits package comes screaming our way, in the form of 1990-2000: A Decade of Domination
. Of the two categories I mentioned above, which one does this belong to? (Hint: The first one, most likely)
Whereas Reinventing Hell
had sixteen tracks from the band’s five major label albums as well as their seminal Official Live: 101 Proof
from 1997 AND a bonus DVD of music videos AND extensive liner notes courtesy of Dimebag and Vinnie Paul AND some cool tour photographs to boot, this little number, released exclusively through Wal-Mart, comes with a grand total of ten
remastered tracks from the same five albums and…well, nothing else. Really, Wal-Mart, ten freaking tracks?
I don’t know if this collection was sanctioned by Vinnie Paul or any of the other surviving members of the band, but if so then they really messed up here, and big time.
That isn’t to say, of course, that the music herein is bad. On the contrary, what we have here is a cool trip down memory lane with some nice groovey head banging fun with the likes of Cowboys From Hell
, Psycho Holiday
, as well as taking the aggression down a notch with arguably their greatest track, Cemetary Gates
. So, if the music is good then what’s the problem? Notice anything from the tracklisting? That’s right, it’s just singles! No album tracks, no bonus demos, no live rarities, nothing. This album is entirely pointless and redundant. Any self-respecting Pantera fan should already own the albums on which these tracks are on and any casual listener or someone trying to get into the band would be better off in splashing out that little bit extra on Reinventing Hell
, simply because that collection is far superior in every way. I mean, as a starting point this isn’t all that bad but since there is a much better compilation widely available for not much extra then this is hardly even worth a glance.
Taking all that into account, there is little that excuses this from being anything other than a cheap move by the record company to try to screw a few extra bucks out of unwitting fans and the curious. Not to mention that the song Domination isn’t even on it either. In summation, this compilation is a decent listen but where the previous compilation perfectly does its job and then some, this one’s potential is thoroughly wasted and is left as an utterly pointless release. Much like anything from Phil’s next band, Superjoint Ritual, in that regard then.
From 1990 to 2000, The Pantera Lineup Was:
Philip Hansen Anselmo- Vocals
Darrell Lance Abbott- Guitars
Rex Robert Brown- Bass guitar
Vincent Paul Abbott- Drums