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Reinventing the Steel

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  • It is my theory that Pantera released this album in spite of nu-metal. I think this not only because Phil Anselmo was publicly outspoken against nu-metal, but also because Pantera always went against the grain; they were never been the flavor of the month and they always made music they wanted to make. During a time when bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn were at the height of their career, Pantera release the heaviest album of their career. Just a straight forward, heavy as f*ck metal album that speaks for itself. Love it or hate it, you’ve got to give Pantera props for not jumping on the bandwagon. They didn’t add rap to their metal, and they sure didn’t shave the edges off their sound or go through a more alternative phase (a la Metallica’s “Load” and Megadeth’s “Risk”).

    Now, to all you reviewers who said this album was a sell-out: I’m confused. This album doesn’t have a hint of melody to help increase album sales or get radio play. How is that a sell-out?

    Highlights include:

    “Hellbound” is a personal favorite and a great song to listen to when you want to get pumped up. The verses build well, leading into the incredible chorus, which is an absolutely brutal breakdown. The double kick drums and screeching guitar make a “boom-boom” sound, and Phil shrieks like he’s being burned in the fires of Hades. Every time I hear this part of “Hellbound,” I think “Oh, hell yeah!”
    “Godd*mn Electric” features lead guitar played by Slayer’s Kerry King. This song also has a galloping beat, with pounding drums and a wailing guitar solo.
    “Revolution is My Name” is the single, and probably the catchiest song of the batch. Crunchy guitars, catchy drum rythms, and two winding guitar solos. Phil howls throughout most of this song, but near the end he says one spoken word: “Revolution”.
    “Death Rattle” is as brutal as ever before. It has fast, bobbing guitars which grind and throb. It begins like most of the other songs on this record, but ends with grinding guitars that chug and churn. Meanwhile, Phil changes from a guttural howl to a growl. I also enjoy this song because whenever Phil sings “death rattle shakes,” his vocals sizzle, echo, and hiss like a rattlesnake.
    “We’ll Grind that Axe for a Long Time” surprisingly doesn’t grind, but it’s still a great headbanger. The song has three speed changes, and the chorus is a skipping beat.

    “It Makes them Dissappear” and “I’ll Cast a Shadow” are both pretty good songs, and “It Makes them Dissappear” has a good, long guitar solo (which lasts almost thirty seconds), but both of these songs don’t really go anywhere; they could use a brutal breakdown.

    Now, I can understand why you wouldn’t like this album at first, because every track is as hard as the last one, and every track is a kick to the head. Yes, most of these songs do sound the same and yes, this entire C.D. is harmony deficient…it’s supposed to be! Pantera made it this way as part of the “Revolution” against modern popular music. Or maybe it’s just apart of the band’s evolution: Pantera started out as a heavy metal band and got heavier with each release.

    This C.D. may take some getting used to, but it is worth it. It’s essential listening for metalheads, but, then again, true metalheads should have all of Pantera’s C.D.s.

    Posted on November 30, 2009