Cowboys From Hell review by Pantera

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  • Released: Jul 24, 1990
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (179 votes)
Pantera: Cowboys From Hell
2

Sound — 9
Believe it or not, Cowboys was a recent pick-up for me. I had a few of the highlights before, but never the entire album. What a rewarding purchase. I never truly was into Pantera when I was younger because I was so focused on Metallica. As a result I find myself mourning Dimebag Darrell in delay. Anyway, to business. Cowboys from Hell: it could also be called the revolution. Pantera completely overhauled their sound on this record, and transformed from glam-rock Kiss wannabees into practitioners of an ultra-heavy form of straight-forward, brutal metal. The transformation is a resounding success. The band sounds unified, tight, and completely determined in it's mission, which is essentially sonic assault. Yet, there is enough variation in the album's sounds to keep it from getting monotenous*. This is an accomplishment given the relentless nature of what is to become their trademark sound. The strongest tracks on the album have to be Cowboys from Hell, Psycho Holiday, Cemetary Gates, Domination, Message in Blood, and The Art of Shredding, but there is no filler, and all the songs have merit. The one criticism I have of the album's sound is that it can sound a little dry at times- vaguely remeniscent of Metallica's... And Justice for All, albeit with much more bottom-end presence. But there is very little flourish to the sound. I offer this as a tentative criticism because, it is minor, and it might not be a bad thing. While the production is very "meat and potatoes," this approach may enhance the overall theme of the album. It is not meant to impress with it's art, it's intricacy, or it's precision. It is meant to hit like a shockwave, leaving nothing in it's path; in this it startlingly effective. *I have said that the album maintains it's strength throughout, and to a large extent it does. However, the early second half of the album does begin to drag just slightly. Again, this is only a minor criticism as the album is very fresh and exciting through Domination. It also closes strong with two of the last three tracks, Message in Blood and The Art of Shredding, among the album's best.

Lyrics — 8
This is a very difficult category for me to give an accurate rating to, because there is great variation in the different aspects of Phil Anselmo's contributions. I'll tackle the lyrics first. If I were to rate the lyrics by themselves, I'd give them a six or a seven. They generally aren't bad or cliche, and they certainly aren't corny. They are very appropriate for the album's sound. However, there is little I find inspired in most of the lyrics; they're fairly simple and straight-forward, and once in a while, even a little dull. That being said, there are also high points. Coybows from Hell, Psycho Holiday, Cemetary Gates, Medicine Man, and The Art of Shredding, among them. As for Anselmo's voice, I give him a 10. His vocal range is astounding. At times he wails like Rob Halford (the end of Cemetary Gates) and at other times he growls at the depths of the bass range (the very beginning of Cowboys from Hell when he says, "We're takin' over this town."). His mainstay is a combination of roaring, screaming, singing, and growling that mixes to produce a very unique and powerful sound that suits the music perfectly. The only other vocalist who can balance the tonal, musical aspects of his voice, with the gritty, harsh sounds of roaring, growling, or screaming, is James Hetfield. And yet the two do not sound similar. Anselmo's voice is a little grittier than Hetfields, but also lacks some of his tone. Again, this suits Pantera's music. However you view it, his voice is truly impressive on this album. It is one of the most skillful and copied performances I have heard.

Overall Impression — 9
In looking at Cowyboys from Hell, it is important to look at it's effects on music. People thought metal died in the late seventies when Kiss started playing disco, Ozzy was fired from Sabbath, John Bonham died (yes I ripped that from the VH1 special, but it's true), and punk emerged as the primary musical expression of counter-culture. How wrong they were; metal would rule the eighties with an iron fist. Then people thought metal died when Smells Like Teen Spirit hit the MTV video circuit, Nevermind shattered the glam-metal chandelier like a hammer, and it appeared grunge and alternative would replace it as counter-culture's answer to "the man." Again, they were wrong. You'd think by now people would realize that when a form of music is born among and fueled by what are generally society's most aggressive, tough, and imposing elements (soldiers, construction workers, etc.), it would be virtually impossible to snuff out. Metal doesn't die; it changes. And in the ninties it changed into Pantera. Pantera's flannel shirts, converse sneakers, and cargo shorts, were the black leather jackets and jeans of ten years before. Cowboys from Hell was the first of three Pantera albums that would solidify metal throughout the nineties and lay the ground word for the uninspired rock/rap/alt revolution of the late nineties and early 2000's. But more importantly, it kept the torch of extreme metal alive when the thrash giants of the eighties (who shall remain nameless) slowed down and decided to experiment. Finally, Pantera's music, bridge the creative gap in metal between the thrash of the eighties and the renewal of prolific metal in the last few years, including the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Overall Cowboys from Hell is a 9. It isn't perfect, but it's close. The momentum stumbles here and there, and the lyrics are business-as-usual for metal. But the sheer power of the album, the unity of the sound, image, and message of bulldozing and brutal metal power places it among the highest peaks in the spires of Hell among it's metal brethren.

39 comments sorted by best / new / date

    savory_softy
    McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died...
    I think you're trying to make a point but I fail to see it. If listening to a dead artists music is a crime then death to every Jimi Hendrix and Randy Rhoads fan! OH I see, it's the whole 'I heard them first thing'... Well you didn't.
    all you people who think this guy is talking to you are retarded if what he said is true in your case you know he was talking to you(i started lstening and then like a week later i found out he was shot fyi)
    'You people'... Seems like his being fairly specific there.
    Patriot1zzy
    Blood Hawk wrote: Pantera = METAL GODS
    Uh, dude. Rob Halford copyrighted the two words after the equal sign.
    Siege of Power
    McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died...
    haha, this guy got called out by like the entire website
    stompbox
    lol pantera stomped metallica's ass and did not even walk them dry
    Terrify_Dmac wrote: I don't think they're quite metallica im pretty sure you mean metallica is not quite Pantera.
    Mad Mike 829
    McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died...
    so what thats better then becoming a fan because of guitar hero
    shcantdance
    Pantera's song "Cowboys From Hell" basically sums up the band. Don't let people from Texas play guitar.
    GREENWARRI0R
    Mad Mike 829 wrote: McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died... so what thats better then becoming a fan because of guitar hero
    No, not really.
    beyondthegrave
    McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died...
    so ****in what people heard abouth pantera after dime was killed.atleast they are being heard.i was actually fortunate to see pantera live on the reinventing the steel tour. anyway this is imo one of the greatest albums of all time.
    chichong
    McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died...
    I saw a news on cnn... it says listen to pantera cause dimebag just died....
    axeofoc5249
    stompbox wrote: lol pantera stomped metallica's ass and did not even walk them dry Terrify_Dmac wrote: I don't think they're quite metallica im pretty sure you mean metallica is not quite Pantera.
    Okay? 1 good album for Pantera vs. 3 amazingly awesome albums from Metallica yeah Pantera walks all over Metallica when it comes to being lame. Both bands formed in 81 look how long it took for Pantera to find something that worked for them please Metallica is the better band you know it I definitely know it.
    metal@hart1101
    the second reviewer seems a bit arrogant for writing a critique about one of the best metal bands ever. He keeps taking shots at phils vocals , when really phils vocals on the album were amazing and not only was he giving the hardest hitting growls and screams, he was still showing up the high notes you were hearing from van halen and other 80s bands. I think thats awsome to be versatile like that. He didnt keep the highs around too long after CFH cuz the drugs took over but it really added depth to the sound of the cd. some of his finest work
    harrybps
    ninja3 wrote: McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died... Been listening since 95'...so **** off
    Ditto.
    botched-eros
    To everyone who has compared Pantera to any other band: Go turn your "Bullet For My Valentine" cd back on and let true Metal lie where it is. Also *bleep* everyone who uses the word "Rock" "Rock" is crappy radio music that is barely thought out and catered to musical morons. This is definitely THE greatest Metal album ever so stop comparing it to other albums.
    jacksparrow4986
    AngryGuitarist wrote: Mckillswitch, i know what you mean, to be honest, alot more people like pantera now then they did back then, because of course, dimebag died. im 16 and hell yeah, i bought the great southern trendkill when it first came out when i was like what? 12-13? i loved the Cd. but i know what you mean nowadays with 14 year old punks that look like 12 year olds wearing HIM shirts and wanking off on guitars just playing random notes and listening to pantera because they feel "bad", thats not what the music is about.
    he he, you and mcKillswitch should get together for drinks, dont forget to lube up! Pantera are awesome, Dimebag is a legend, METAL IS THE SHIT!
    thrashinghabit
    XtractionProces : Kooldood wrote: I would class it as "one of the best thrash/heavymetal acts that ever walked this earth" metal, next to metallica,maiden and a7x RIP dime You, sir, have problems. Amazing band. RIP Dime. Ditto, A7X is horrible, don't ever EVER! put them in the same category as Metallica or Pantera.
    steve-cfh
    This is the best album of all time! every track is amazing, and much better than anything else, pantera where the best metal band of all time!
    Kriske11
    McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died...
    i first heard pantera on the dvd monsters of rock in moscow and i didn't know back then that dime was shot so...
    SiKthtallica669
    McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died...
    "You People" ...what do you mean "you people"? also I've known about Pantera since I was 10 now I'm 17. do the flippin' math. it was before he died. RIP dimebag
    XtractionProces
    Kooldood wrote: I would class it as "one of the best thrash/heavymetal acts that ever walked this earth" metal, next to metallica,maiden and a7x RIP dime
    You, sir, have problems. Amazing band. RIP Dime.
    sicfreek
    AngryGuitarist wrote: Mckillswitch, i know what you mean, to be honest, alot more people like pantera now then they did back then, because of course, dimebag died. im 16 and hell yeah, i bought the great southern trendkill when it first came out when i was like what? 12-13? i loved the Cd. but i know what you mean nowadays with 14 year old punks that look like 12 year olds wearing HIM shirts and wanking off on guitars just playing random notes and listening to pantera because they feel "bad", thats not what the music is about.
    Peres.T.Peanut
    This album was pretty much the begining for me...Ever since i started to listen to Pantera, the way i see music is different...Great album from a great band.
    BBoyBlaZe
    McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died...
    ok so lets not listen to jimi hendrix becuase we also hurd he died..and lets not listen to nirvana becuase we only listen to it becuase cobain shot himself please every1 spread this message everywhere or McDonald engage will get mad...dont listen to pantera,dont even listen to heavy metal for the sake of that -10 year old kid aside from that..this is the one of the greatest heavy metal albums ever
    DFX11
    Great song.... Cowboys from hell... awesome tune.. just amazing
    guitaringnathan
    Terrify_Dmac wrote: I don't think they're quite metallica im pretty sure you mean metallica is not quite Pantera.
    im glad someone else understands, texas thrash for the win
    sicfreek
    sicfreek wrote:tgst came out in 96 AngryGuitarist wrote: Mckillswitch, i know what you mean, to be honest, alot more people like pantera now then they did back then, because of course, dimebag died. im 16 and hell yeah, i bought the great southern trendkill when it first came out when i was like what? 12-13? i loved the Cd. but i know what you mean nowadays with 14 year old punks that look like 12 year olds wearing HIM shirts and wanking off on guitars just playing random notes and listening to pantera because they feel "bad", thats not what the music is about.
    saitenslayer
    McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died...
    i liked pantera before i even new who the hell Dime was
    slash_015
    saitenslayer wrote: McKillswitch wrote: You people have only ever heard of pantera cuz dimebag died... i liked pantera before i even new who the hell Dime was
    the same. ....PANTERA = KINGS OF METAL
    joe van g
    This alblum was ahead of its time.What else can you say but Dimebag Forever
    Warheart1188
    Phantom Lord's review was great. He couldn't spell, had no proper grammar, and he had no idea of what he was talking about.
    Warheart1188
    This album changed my outlook on metal after I heard Master of Puppets. I still remember...I was 12 years old....time flies...
    noobiepro1996
    Kooldood wrote: i definately wouldnt class pantera as rock... or hair metal... I would class it as "one of the best thrash/heavymetal acts that ever walked this earth" metal, next to metallica,maiden and a7x RIP dime
    A7X isnt metal.their hard rock.and they suck in most songs