A shiny new vinyl reissue of the band’s most diverse and ferocious offering.
Alex Deller 2012
Having helped define 90s metal with their two preceding albums – 1992’s Vulgar Display of Power and 1994’s Far Beyond Driven – Pantera found themselves in a strange place when the release of this big ol’ beast rolled around.
The band itself was fraught with tension thanks to frontman Phil Anselmo’s isolation, spiralling heroin addiction and, perhaps, his immersion in "kvlt" side projects that ranged from esoteric black metal to crippling southern sludge. Externally, the landscape was also changing, with landmark debuts from Korn and Deftones reshaping the rock scene.
With peers like Sepultura and Machine Head falling beneath nu-metal’s frowzy spell, it seemed only fitting that the self-styled "cowboys from hell" released their most uncompromising album, The Great Southern Trendkill, serving as a combined head-butt, middle finger and vomit-tinged beer burp to all that stood in its way.
Beginning with the system-purging title track – its wall-of-squall effectively sets the tone – this still stands as the band’s most diverse and ferocious offering. From breakneck thrash riffing and blistering whammy pedal shrieks to more pensive outbursts like Drag the Waters, it all hinged upon two key factors: Anselmo’s indignant howl and guitarist Dimebag Darrell’s mix of organic thrust, skull-scraping atonality and searing virtuosity.
Brutality aside, however, the album is not without its surprises. Pantera’s previous treatment of Black Sabbath classic Planet Caravan had demonstrated a subtler side, and this is built upon with the musically – if not thematically – mellow Suicide Note, Part I.
Elsewhere, the expansive Floods teeters toward the seven-minute mark and 10’s has Anselmo clearing his bile-clogged throat and demonstrating the weary, near-soulful wail of a man for whom bottling it up is simply no longer an option.
This expanded vinyl edition wages war across two slabs of wax and, unlike its 1996 predecessor, features the album in its entirety. More than just a handy item for those newly-enthused to the world of record-collecting or a sop for completists, however, this reissue should hopefully also rekindle interest in an unjustly overlooked album from a band who helped make space at the table for the likes of Hatebreed, Lamb of God and Gojira.