Sound — 8
I'll be the first to say I was reallllyyyy looking forward to this album. I am a huge Pantera fan and I love every album they did. That said, Damageplan is understandably similar in style to Pantera's last album, Reinventing the Steel, but with a more sludgey sound. As overused as grunge metal is, thats basically what this CD is. But that is a good thing, because Dimebag and Vinne are so good at what they do, they elevate the usually listless genre. Dimebag is still using pummeling riffs, but they sound more simplistic in this setting, and not half as daring as on Pantera's previous efforts. Vinnie is as good as ever pounding away back on the drums, and Bobzilla does a quality job keeping up with Dimebag.
Zakk Wylde guest stars on the track "Reborn" and you can tell, because the track sounds like something right out of the BLS handbook. But thats a good thing, and Dimebag and Zakk are made for each other. On "Reborn", Zakk manages to make the most ungodly banshee wail ever heard on a guitar solo and it sends shivers down your spine. Dime still gets some killer hooks on his riffs and manages some tight solos, but its nothing overly groundbreaking compared to his previous offerings.
Lyrics — 8
Pat Lachman is a relative unknown former lead singer from the band Halford, and it shows. Trying to replace a lead man of the quality of Phil Anselmo is next to impossible, and it is unfair to make such comparisons between the two. Lachman is pretty generic lead man by metal standards, but he does do a good variety, doing a lot more yelling at the beginning of the cd and a lot more singing later.
The lyrics go very well with the music, but take the music away and the lyrics are nothing great and quite run of the mill. While Phil was able to channel and articulate his rage into his lyrics, Lachman still has to forge an identity for himself. And the track "F*** You", with guest star Corey Taylor, is totally unnecessay and a worthless exercise in obscenity.
Overall Impression — 10
This disc is basically Dime and Vinnie's project to prove they don't need Phil. And they do a pretty impressive job, as the disc is focused in its theme and delivery. I was skeptical at first, but after 10 listens I was hooked. The end is particualarly strong, especially the acoustic number "Soul Bleed" which is eerily reminiscent of Suicide Note Part 1 and Cemetary Gates crossed with Layne Staley harmonies. Best songs are Breathing New Life, Reborn, Pride, Save Me, Moment of Truth, Soul Bleed, and Blink of an Eye. While it may be a little too "nu-metalish" for some, it's still Dime and Vinnie and that's what matters. It's a solid debut, but the lyrics could use some work and it could be fresher. But I still love the album and I've been listening obsessively. Zakk's guest spot was refreshing and further joint ventures would be a great thing. Between this album and Probot, the best metal discs of this young year come from the veterans who have been doing it for years.