Review Summary: Decent, but kinda repetitive. Saved by a few strong numbers.
When Pantera's Cowboys from Hell
came out in 1990, it was a great success. At the time, their sound was really fresh and innovative, and inspired a whole new movement within metal, the so-called "groove metal". With the passing of time, however, it becomes apparent that this sound has not aged quite well. In hindsight, the riffs sound grating and repetitive. They have simply lost the novelty factor that they had at the time of the initial release.
Despite the staleness of the most of its musical content however, the album is not entirely a waste of time, as there are several standout moments that make it memorable. The album opens promisingly enough, with the effective one-two punch of Cowboys from Hell
and Primal Concrete Sledge
, both great songs. Unfortunately, soon the album degenerates into bland, boring groove drivel, with hardly any variety to make a lasting impression. Of course, the number one exception that comes to mind, offering some kind of respite from the boredom, is Cemetery Gates
. It's a song every metalhead (even some non-metalheads) knows, and for a good reason. From the squealing main guitar riff, to the acoustic arpeggios in the verses, to the heartfelt lyrics, this song is among Pantera's finest. The Sleep
is a track that doesn't get mentioned very often, and I think this is pretty unfair, as its solo is simply phenomenal, surely among Dimebag's best. Closer The Art of Shredding
also stands out, as it has a more of a thrashy, rather than groove feel, offering a bit of variety as well.
Phil Anselmo demonstrates that he is a proficient vocalist, adeptly shifting gears between Hetfield-like gruffs and Halford-style screams. Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott is a decent guitarist, but despite his technical proficiency, he doesn't hold a candle up to the songwriting abilities of some of the genre's big names like James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine. And I am not going to praise him beyond reason simply because he happened to die a tragic death. Cry me a river.
- Cowboys from Hell
- Primal Concrete Sledge
- Cemetery Gates
- The Sleep
- The Art of Shredding