All heterosexual males acknowledge this album as the greatest in the history of heavy music. Phil and Co. get down like nobody’s business.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
After tasting commercial success with “Vulgar Display of Power”, Pantera went above the grain and crafted one of the most brutal and frenzied albums to ever hit the Billboard Charts. The first four tracks; “Strength Beyond Strength”, “Becoming”, “5 Minutes Alone”, and “I’m Broken” are among Pantera’s best and remain concert staples, all of which showcase Vinnie Paul’s frantic thrash metal drumming that showcased him as one of the top drummers in metal history, and the rhythm section of Dimebag Darrel’s blazing yet brutal guitar solos and Rex Brown’s fleet fingered bass blasts combined with Phil Anselmo’s raw, deep throated voice make “Far Beyond Driven” unforgettable from the beginning. “Good Friends and A Bottle of Pills” is a three minute dirge of Phil revealing a dirty little deed to someone he knows, and it is darkly humerous until the ear shattering chorus hits: “I’m serving too many masters”. “25 Years” is delibrately slow paced until the second half of the song hits with a chorus you can’t help but sing along and headbang to. “Slaughtered” showcases Pantera getting even more heavier, while “Use My Third Arm” and a tripped out cover of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” nicely round out the album. All in all, I find “Far Beyond Driven” to be Pantera’s best album to date; better than “Vulgar”, better than “Cowboys”. This is a modern day classic and one of the definitive albums of the 90’s, and I doubt anything Pantera puts out now or later can ever match the ferocity and brutality that is displayed here.
This was my introduction to Pantera. I have difficulty describing their sound, but it has elements of speed-metal/death metal, and is even punk at times. Whatever you want to call it, one thing is for sure: this album is very hardcore.
The vocals tend toward throaty, husky screams, but the singer demonstrates great versatility… just give “Planet Caravan” a listen after hearing all the songs that precede it on the CD!
The extremely distorted guitar riffs are complex, and they are creatively done. The drumming is powerful and intricate, and the guitar solos are amazing pieces of sonic art. These guys play guitar the way I would like to be able to play… they are powerful, and very primal in their approach.
This band wears its anger on its collective sleeve. They hide nothing, and there is no pretense. If you like genuine emotional release in savage, powerful music, then DON’T pass this up!
For an album to stand the test of time, two critical things are needed: good production and great musicianship. It’s safe to say that (Pantera’s third album) “Far Beyond Driven” has both of these things, because, over a decade after its release, it’s as great as it ever was.
First, the production: I’ve never had a problem with the production on any of Pantera’s albums (except for maybe their 1980’s hair metal albums), and “Far Beyond Driven” is no exception. Production can be a bit tricky sometimes; some good metal albums have suffered from a bad production. For instance, take Megadeth’s “So Far, So Good…” album: Megadeth did a great job, musically, (and the album sounded fine in the `80’s) but, over the years, it has become more and more stale sounding. Terry Date, Pantera’s typical lead producer, does a strong, robust job, here. The result is a batch of songs that are extra crunchy and have a harder edge on them.
Next, the musicianship is, as always, top notch. More pummeling drums, puke stained vocals, and propulsive bass lines. But it’s the guitars that, once again, dominate the maelstrom. When you hear the sludgy guitars on “Far Beyond Driven” bob, crunch, grind, start, stop, beep, pound, shriek, thump, groove, ascend, descend, downshift, cascade, soar, run, surge, shake, rattle, and steam roll (and about everything in between), you know it’s just another day at the office for Dimebag Darrell.
“Strength Beyond Strength” has rushing iron riffs, a thumping beat, and good drumming (especially in the beginning). The mid-section is slower, but after that, things pick up where they left off. The middle of this song also has a riff that goes up and down, like it’s running over hills. Did I mention this song also has Phil’s constant howling? Plus, there’s a slow breakdown about halfway through.
“Becoming” has off-kilter guitars, a mini-solo, and fast double bass drumming (which become especially apparent at the end.)
“5 Minutes Alone” is a fan favorite that would have been well suited to be on of the album’s first singles. It’s grinding guitars, staccato vocals, and great chorus make it a fan favorite. And the slow bobbing guitars at the end are tailor made for headbanging.
“I’m Broken,” a single, has a groovy guitars and another pounding beat. Dimebag lays down a great, snowballing solo here, as well.
“Good Friends…” finds Phil making all kinds of weird noises. One moment he’s calmly growling, one moment it sounds like he’s, um…taking a dump, and the next moment he’s whispering, and, finally, it sometimes sounds like he’s coughing! The guitars on this one are usually supple and restrained, but this song is a highlight because of Phil’s abnormal vocals and downright perverted lyrics.
I enjoy how the beat of “Hard Lines” shifts gears. It slows down, then speeds up, then slows, down, then speeds up.
“Slaughtered” has a machine gun intro, more low, gruff singing, and chugging guitars (which chug fast, pause briefly, then chug again).
“25 Years” has a skipping beat, similar to “We’ll Grind that Axe for a Long Time” (from 2000’s “Reinventing the Steel”) and “Shedding Skin” not only has an appetizing title, but also three guitar solos! The first one is, of course, very good, the second (my personal favorite) has two parts to it, and guitar solo number three ascends like a steep mountain.
Finally, “Planet Caravan,” originally done by Black Sabbath, is a good cover but also a good song in its own right (and a great closer!) Its soft percussion (what sounds like-I’m not saying they are, they just sound like-tribal drums) and dreary, spacey vocals give this song a dreamy feel. Pantera give this song their own sound while also remaining true to the original. Pantera several covers (“Hole in the Sky,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Electric Funeral,” and this) and did `em well. I predict that if Pantera had remained a band, they would have turned out a covers album in a couple of years.
So, “Far Beyond Driven” is close to but falls just short of its predecessor, “Vulgar Display of Power” in terms of greatness. This album may not be the standard setting landmark that “Vulgar” was (it’s not as innovative as that album), but the bone crunching riffs and energy that bounces off the walls make almost every song on this album a hit.
Plus, you know it’s got to be great. What other album is as heavy as this and debuted at number one on the charts?
Yeah, as everyone knows, Dimebag Darrell’s life was taken abruptly last night by some crazy fan that blamed him for breaking up Pantera (or so I’ve read). Damageplan were just warming up when this gunman leaped up on stage and took Darrell’s life (and the lives of several other fans). Right now, I am at a loss of words for what I’ve just heard this morning.
“Dimebag” Darrell Abbott was truly one of the greatest guitarists the metal world has ever seen and heard. He pulled off riffs like no other guitarist I’ve heard. And it was this album that truly made me a metal fan.
Sure, Slipknot got me into “nu” metal, but it was Pantera’s “Far Beyond Driven” that opened my eyes to a better view of heavy metal. I still remember when I first listened to this album. I heard it back in my freshman years of high school. And, yeah, Slipknot were my favorite… but not until a friend loaned me a copy of this album. I put it in my CD player… and I was just in complete awe. “Strength Beyond Strength” was the harshest song I’ve heard (at the time). The music was loud and the band played at a fast pace. The lyric “F*** you and your college dream! Fact is we’re stronger than all!” really stuck into my head. Phil sings angrily about certain economical issues like drugs. And Dimebag comes in with an eerie guitar sound. “Hail! King! The new… king! Stronger than all!” Phil immediately growls when Dimebag finishes his haunting solo. Yes… hail Pantera. Hearing that line immediately made me a newcoming fan of Pantera.
Just hearing that first track catipulted me into the real heavy metal world. No nu-metal like Slipknot. The absolute harshness and darkness that heavy metal is. This album is downright brutal only to still be bested by “Vulgar Display of Power.” It sure packs a hell lot of great and kickass heavy metal music. Phil growls unlike anything before with lyrics that give a glimpse of the American Southwest and being born again with snake’s eyes. Rex on the bass is still kick ass, sounding like a reincarnated Cliff Burton. And Vinnie Paul (Darrell’s brother) on the drums is equally as good as John Bonham (former Led Zeppelin drummer that passed on). Pantera truly were a great heavy metal band, and I always considered them to be the best.
And Dimebag played the guitar like no other that I’ve heard… at the time. He played fast and relentlessly. His guitar screeched to the point where you feel as if you’re going to go deaf or make your ears bleed. And his solos are simply amazing as each song progressed. He is no Hendrix, Page, or Kirk Hammett… no he isn’t any of them. He’s better than all of them. That’s what I think. That’s what I’ve always thought ever since first I heard this album and discovered Pantera.
Dimebag Darrell will truly be missed by this fan, as well as his millions of other headbanging fanatics. From Pantera to Damageplan, Dimebag Darrell still kicked ass on the guitar. It’s so sad that he left this world so soon. But nevertheless, his music will continue to live on for the years to come. His legacy will never be forgotten.
Because my friend, “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott will always be stronger than all.
May he rest in peace and my condolences go out to the familes of the victims who’s lives were taken abruptly last night.