Although Pantera did release several albums throughout the 80s, 1990's Cowboys from Hell is considered their first major album. Six years later, The Great Southern Trendkill is their fourth major release. Throughout their carear, Pantera became progressively heavier with each album. Yet, Great Southern Trenkill was different. The overal sound is much heavier than its predecesor Far Beyond Driven, but there are several ballad type songs (Three to be exact). So now Im guessing you are wondering, "Well is it any good"" My answear is, "Yes, and no". I feel that to acheive that extra heaviness in the songs they sacrificed alot of elements that made their past songs strong. For example, Dimebag's riffs seem to be much simpler (for most songs). In addition, his solos (exept for a few of course) are alot shorter and are weak compared to his past solo work. Also, (not that this is necessarily bad) they tune down to C I beleive. Thats much deeper than what they tuned to before (two whole steps deeper to be exact). Moreover, I think they tried to make the lyrics abit more "In your face" than their past lyrics. Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes not. And their ballads" For the most part they don't do too well, but read the track by track for more detail.
Philip Anselmo: Vocals
Dimebag Darrel: Guitars
Vinnie Paul: Drums
1) The Great Southern Trendkill: Starts straight away with the whole band playing and Phil screaming his lungs out. The riffing throughout the whole song is simple and heavy. Phil's constant screaming and the lyrics (if you can manage to understand) are the main focuses. After Phil bellows "The great... Southern... Trendkill... THATS RIGHT" in the second chorus, Dimebag changes the mood of the song with a catchy solo. Its defently not one of his best solos but it fits the song well. The song ends on a fade out of Dime soloing away. Although not an outstanding song, an apropriate opener for this album. 3.5/5
2) War Nerve: Starts off with some chords from Dimebag whcih are quickly but not exactly imediately fallowed by Rex and Vinnie Paul. Then, theres a brief slow chord progression and then it speeds up. Again, a very simple riff that cosists of two notes. The rythme isnt anything crazy either. After a seemingly long intro Phil comes in singing (actually screaming) " Truly, *** the owrld for all its worth..." just for you to get an idea of the lyrics. This song seems to go on for ever because it is so repetitive and there is absolutley no contrast in the riffing. What's more, there is no solo. Not a great song at all but I can see why some people would like it. 2.5/5
3) Drag the Waters: Starts off with Dimebag playing the main riff with Vinnie acompanying him with... a cowbell""" Then they both do a fill and Phil comes in doing a scream, Vinnie starts playing a real beat, and Rex... maybe comes in if you can manage to hear him. That same riff used in the intro is the verse (in the verse it sounds different because it is palm muted and the fill at the end is different but at the base its the same riff)... and the chorus!! WOW is that repetitive. But Phils vocals work really well in this song and the lyrics are more comprehendible. Also, theres a cool riff after the chorus. In addition, we are treated to an actually decent solo. The only problem with this song (besides the repetitive riff) is then ending. The chorus is repeated for around a minute. One whole minute of Phil screaming "Drag the waters some more, Like never before". A good song, but it could have been exellent. 4/5
4) 10's: This is the first ballad on the album. Starts with some chords with an effect followed by the whole band exept phil kicking in. When Phil kicks in you can tell two things. One, Phil is not really singing. What he's doing sounds like semi harsh vocals over a slower riff. Two, this is not exactly a ballad. The riff is just slower. But then, there actually is a ballad type riff folowed by a slow, melodic solo from Dimebag. After the solo, that same riff continues while Dimbag fiddles around and busts out some feedback or some kind of effect. This song just doesn't work with me. No matter how many times I listen to it, it just sounds strange in a weak , unorganized manner. Phil's vocals are not very suited for this type of song either. 2/5
5) 13 Steps to Nowhere: Vinnie begins with a drum intro and is later joined by the whole band exept Phil. Then, Dimebag does a nice pentatonic fill and Phil starts singing. I think this song is about Amercia's decadence in the 1990s. Or maybe more precisly in the last 13 years. But I don't know. The chorus is pretty short with Phil just screaming "13...13...13...13... STEPS". Then, after the second chorus there is a bridge part and... no solo. Song ends on a chorus. A fairly good song but still kinda weak compared to other Pntera material. 3.5/5
6) Suicide Note Pt. I: The second ballad on the album. The intro is basically guitar effects flying around with a melody in the backround. Then, a soft, dark riff comes in. Then Phil starts singing. His vocals are deffently better then on 10's but still not top notch. You can tell he's more of a harsh vocals kinda guy. The lyrics are as the title suggests about suicide. After the second chorus, instead of a bridge secction or somthing like that we get weird guitar over the main riff until the end.
Better than 10's, but still not quite convincing enough to be a good ballad. 3.5/5
7) Suicide Note Pt II: A very thrashy song. It kicks off right after Suicide Note Pt I ends. It starts with a drum roll and a pick slide at the same time. Then Phil and the rest come in. Phil's screams sound very real and convincing in this song. And Dimebags riff with the harmonics that he uses for the verse is a perfect macth for Phils vocals. After a strange solo from Dimebag Darrel, Another slower riff is played and the song ends on even another riff that ends the song flawlessly. Good song, but not among the best of the album. 4/5
8) Living Through Me (Hells' Wrath): Back to simple heavy riffs, but this riff is catchy. For the verse, the riff continues and Phil does his usual harsh vocal stuff. A better riff defines the chorus as Phil continues to sing in the same manner. After the second chorus there is a bridge section that consists of basically sounds and Phil wispering. I find it quite unnecessary. Then, back to the verse and the song ends on after one last chorus. A solid song despite that one part. 4/5
9) Floods: The third and last ballad on the album. The main riff is haunting and sounds like it could be the theme for some horror movie . Phil's singing as I have mentioned before isn't very good. In addition those whispers that he does get on my nerves. Yet, the overal mood of the song is very dark and almost depressing. Usually, I don'y go for these kindof songs but this one really seems convincing. After the part where Phil says "Floods" over and over you hear rain falling. And after the rain comes a killer solo from Mr. Dimebag Darrel. Although I am not a guitarist, I don't think this solo is technically very difficult (correct me if I am wrong) but its appeal comes from its melody. A perfect match for the rest of the song. Then, Phil repeats "Floods" some more and the song ends with the haunting riff and more rain. This is THE ballad of the album and the only convincing one. A great song (although overated by many). 4.5/5
10) The Underground in America: Starts off with a catchy, simple riff. Then Phil does a relatively long scream and the verse kicks in. This song is easily described as a generic Great Southern Trenkill track plus. In other words its the best track on the album but its nothing new. Same old Phil screaming over a heavy riff with Vinnie Paul abusing his double bass pedal and Rex barely audible. Yet, theres somthing about this song that makes it better. Maybe its the slight catchyness. Unfortunetly though, there is no wicked solo. Just an average one. The song ends with Phil screaming "The tred is dead" which leads directly into the next song. Best on the album along with floods. 4.5/5
11) (Reprise) Sandblasted Skin: Directly follows the end of The Underground in America. A simple riff begins the song and is quickly acompanied by Rex and Vinnie to create a quite solid, heavy intro. The same riff is most of the verse. Theres no sung chorus and no solo. The song fades out on the opening riff being played. Then, (not that this is important) the riff fades back in for a while and then the song ends for real and so does the album. A nice heavy album closer. 4/5.
A good way to sum up this album is to say heavy does not always equal good. It is their heaviest album up to date but by no means their best. Moreover, Pantera has failed at making more good soft material, with the exeption of floods. Also you might have noticed that I gave no song a 5/5. Usualy I give at least one song a 5/5 because most decent albums have at least one song that is really exellent and that really stands out form the others. The Great Southern Trendkill has several pretty good songs but lacks those one or two tracks that are easily, and without hesitation labeled "Best track on the album". Luckily for Pantera and their fans, their follow up album to The Great Southern Trendkill, Reinventing the Steel is much more solid and complete.
Final rating: 3/5