P is for Pantera
I hold a very vivid memory of when I first listened to Far Beyond Driven. I moved to the Orlando area in 1994, halfway through my freshman year of high school, and I had to make all new friends and acclimate to a very different place. I ended up taking French and meeting two people in there: Eduardo and Rachel. Rachel was one year older than me and we were insta-friends, probably because we were quirky. She offered to start driving me to school since I didn’t live very far from her, so this was a great way to fit in and belong somewhere. Well, she was always playing metal in her car in the morning and I got curious about some of these bands I hadn’t ever heard before. So she let me borrow this CD and I felt like I was breaking all kinds of rules, somehow.
Everything I listened to up to that point was what I considered the “tame” category: GnR, Metallica, etc. But this one simply looked harder, scarier, darker. I sat on the patio furniture out on our covered area the day after I brought this CD home and just looked at it. I was always a little bit of a rule follower and though my mom and I had had it out about the “parental advisory” sticker years ago when I got Appetite for Destruction from Columbia House, I still felt like there was a line I was about to cross.
I popped it into my Sony Discman and delved in. The album opens with Strength Beyond Strength, which , pardon the language, will tear you a new asshole.
This entire album shreds, start to finish. It was so hard, so chaotic, so dark – I was IN LOVE. Phil Anselmo conveys his anger, disgust, and disappointment in every song and lyric.
Never had I fallen so hard for a band! I was instantly fan #1, in my mind anyway. I have always been an angry person; quick to get flustered and irritated. Listening to this music helped quell that within my soul.
I quickly went back and got their other albums. Funny though, I have this memory of owning their first album on cassette, so I am wondering if I hadn’t already purchased Cowboys from Hell and not listened to it prior to this album that Rachel gave me. Because would I not have just gotten it on CD then? Anywho, I also loved their previous album from 1992, Vulgar Display of Power. This song is my fave:
But Cowboys was fun too:
Little more rockabilly, if you ask me, but they are from Texas! But man, Dimebag could PLAY that guitar. It’s really a shame I never got to see them play. They won’t be having any reunion tours, as both their lead guitarist and drummer are dead. It was a pretty damn big deal when Dimebag ( Darrell Abbott) died because it was a fan who charged the stage and shot him. His brother died of health issues. I know Phil is a little reclusive now so it’s a no-go all around. But the music they made is just so melodic to me. The band gets a lot of flak for fitting into a time when the metal scene was changing quite a bit. They followed thrash and preceded Nu metal so it’s an odd dichotomy. They are often referred to as thrash or heavy, but mostly called groove metal, which you can see in the way their guitars sort of chug in a bluesy and wavy way.
This is one of those bands I circle back to time and again. There’s something so soothing about the way each song has a softer, slower portion, then launches into the crunching, shredding soaring guitar breakdowns. I find I like a lot of bands who have this symmetry to their music (see: Avatar).