Sick guitarist? - Check
Pounding drums? – Check
Decent bassist? – Check
Rabid vocalist? – Check
Joints/Alcohol? – Check
Songwriting? - …….uh oh
is just one of those bands that you either get into, or you want to vomit every time you hear their name. As for me, I love them. After picking up “Cowboys From Hell
”, I was immediately hooked on guitarist Dimebag Darrel’s thick groove, buzzing riffs, and insane solos. Phil was rather impressive on vocals, spewing out lines left and right that made him sound like he belonged in a mad house. I craved more. And I got more on “Vulgar Display of Power
”, which in essence, is their best release. The heaviness was kicked up a notch, Dime’s playing shot up, and Phil sounded more pissed off than ever; I was satisfied. Hell, I was more than satisfied. I was thrashing about my room/car/house for months on end. It was about 2 weeks after I picked it up that I read on Rolling Stone
that their album, “Far Beyond Driven
” received a high-ranking of 4 stars. Myself, being a colossal moron at the time, believed in Rolling Stone
and picked up the album with a seconds thought, expecting a further expansion upon “Vulgar Display of Power
I was about as correct as Bill Clinton saying he never had sexual affairs with that hoochie.
Something went terribly wrong with this album. And I believe I found out what they are:
Part One: Dime
- Dime (RIP) was one hell of a guitarist. Who can forget the insane solos upon tracks like “Regular People (Conceit)
” or “Domination
”? I know I can’t. So if he is so damn good, why is he so damn quiet on this album? Solos hardly appear anywhere, and when they do, like on “Shredding Skin
” and “Becoming
”, they’re incredibly short and don’t lack that flavor of insaneness that was present on past releases. They really held Dime back on this album in favor of a more heavy-tone. The riffs themselves aren’t bad, but they get so repetitive after awhile it can make you gag. Most of these riffs are hugely-chunked, giving them a big chugging feel. Someone stated that the band Lamb of God
is like a modern day Pantera
in the riff section with their “chug-chugga” riffs, and it’s quite easy to see why. A lot of the riffs off this album, are just god-awful. Take for instance “Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills
”, it has a huge trippy-feel to it with the thumping drums and chugging bass, and after the first 5 seconds you’ll want to change the song. The same can be said for “Hard Lines and Sunken Cheeks
”. They're pure s**t honestly. They also tend to dive more into a “hardcore” sound at times, especially on the opener “Strength Beyond Strength
” and “Slaughtered
”. Dime’s main selling point on those song’s are the brutality, but the lack of creativity and inspiration causes them to fall flat. However, there are a few redeeming qualities. “5 Minutes Alone
”, while brutal and featuring those chugging riffs, is extremely enjoyable, with a decent solo and some interesting guitar work during the post-choruses. It’s easily the best song off this album, and is a definite head banger. The same can be said for “Becoming
” and “I’m Broken
” is less interesting than the three songs mentioned, simply because after the first minute and a half it becomes blandly repetitive. “I’m Broken
”, on the other hand, is worthy of a great deal of listens, with its climbing and thumping guitar line before it turns into *surprise surprise!* thickly chopped riffs.
Part 2: Phil
- Phil is an insane vocalist. While many hate him, I think he’s great. His voice is perfectly suited for the rash playing that Pantera
delivers. He also doesn’t have that great of a vocal range, but I can usually get around that, as most Pantera
fans do. Well then, what’s his problem here? To put it quite simply: He needs to shut the f**k up. He tries to be the best part of the song here, as he attempts to outdo the drums/bass/guitar and make himself the highlight of each song with frothing vocals with little comprehension of what he is actually saying. Songs like “Strength Beyond Strength
” try to use his fast bark-like snarl to push the song around, and after the first few seconds his voice seems like a nail being driven into your ear and you just want him to die. On “Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills
” he tries to talk calmly and quietly in order to sound sinister and instead he just like a drunken idiot. And also at a point, he just starts screaming out words as loud as he can, and its enough for me to want to cut off my ears. His lyrics too, are just horrible. “Balls in a bag. Perverted handle. His getting by is a fisted f**k.
” come off the track “Use My Third Arm
”, and are just utter crap. But those aren’t even the worst. That award goes to (if you can’t pick up my immense hatred for this song, you should be shot) “Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills
”, with some classic lines like “She called me Daddy. And I called her baby when I smacked her a**. I called her sugar when I ate her alive till daylight.
Phil should pay us some money in order to listen to lines like that.
It’s hard to say when he does have a good vocal performance on this album, but if anything, it would have to be on those three tracks I listed earlier as being the best (“5 Minutes Alone
”, “I’m Broken
”, and “Becoming
”), quite simply because Dime and the gang out shadow him vastly.
Part 3: Vinnie (Drums) and Rex (bass)
- Vinnie is a rather basic drummer, mostly relaying on his blasting bass drum to accomplish his task of keeping the beat. While on previous albums, this wasn’t that big of a deal, but here, since the aim of this album is just to be brutal and heavy, his bass drum tone has been kicked up to the point of unbearability. On tracks like “Becoming
”, that’s all you can make out during the intro at points, and it’s incredibly annoying. And it doesn’t even really sound that huge either. It has a small *popping* effect, so it sounds rather whiney at many points.
- Rex is just a follow-along bass player, he doesn’t really do much by his own. Such is the case here. His bass gets lost in the mix, and the only time you really get to here is on tracks like “Hard Lines and Sunken Cheeks
”, but that song sucks so much you probably won’t even care about it. Maybe if Rex might’ve done some of his variations, it might’ve given songs another layer to them. But he doesn’t. He’s just there, and as a bassist, that’s frustrating because he follows Dime note-for-note usually during the riffs, and some of those riffs can be quite complex (Older albums, not this one. The riffs are very basic here).
Part Four: The Songs
- I’ve already pointed out the good and the bad songs basically already in the riff section, but I just wanted to go over it one more time: They’re not good at all. 90% of these songs feel repetitive, bland, and uninspired. “Strength Beyond Strength
”, “Use My Third Arm
”, and “Throes Beyond Rejection
” all sound like the same song repackaged with a new name and some different vocals. It’s boring. Others, such as “Hard Lines and Sunken Cheeks
”, “25 Years
”, and the god-awful “Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills
” all have a stupid trippy-feel to them. “Hard Lines and Sunken Cheeks
” actually has a quite thrashy-verse, only to be stopped suddenly each time by an annoying floaty-chorus. The only really stand out tracks are the ones I’ve been talking about a lot, and while they’re great, you’d do a lot better to put them on another CD, and put a few tracks in between them because they can sound the same at some points as well. They did do a cover of Black Sabbath’s
”, and while I’ve never been a big fan of that song, it’s an interesting way to end the album, seeing as it’s slow, moody, and eerie. However, they did a good job covering it at least.
This album is just horrid. Dime doesn’t play up to his standards, Phil tries to dominate each song, Vinnie’s bass drum pops like a little b**ch, and Rex is just there, doing nothing. It doesn’t add up well at all. Pick up “Cowboys From Hell
” or “Vulgar Display of Power
” if you are interested in these guys, but stay the hell away from this garbage.
If You Must Buy This CD, Only Listen To:
5 Minutes Alone