Sound — 10
Pantera are well reknown for their signature guitar and drum sound. The guitar is a cutting edge rip force while the drums are thick clicks and bounces to re-enforce the heaviness of the whole thing. But here, the guitars have turned almost evil, the original rip has morphed into a dirty growl, the drums are so heavy they remind me of gravity, and the bass is ten times sludgier than normal. All this makes for an awesome change from the norm, but they vocals have become somewhat annoying. The vocals on '13 Steps to Nowhere' really show this. Phil sounds like he is screaming his original helium voiced tunes from 'Cowboys from Hell'. However the down n' dirty new sound really matches what you would expect from a Texan group's album with a rattle snake in the boiling summer heat gracing the front cover. The opening riffs to 'War Nerve', 'Drag the Waters' and '13 Steps to Nowhere' are almost creepy while melodic ballads '10's', 'Suicide Note pt.1' and 'Floods' create images of night time in the South USA swamps. So with the exceptions of some of the vocals the sound here is great.
Lyrics — 9
As I said earlier, the vocals let a lot of this album down. The verse vocals in '13 Steps...' are kind of annoying. Plus, in the way too long breakdown in 'Living Through Me (Hellswrath)', the vocals are head raping, surrounding and nigh on inaudible, therefore, crap. But the lyrics themselves are a high point of this album, with War Nerve and the title track flipping the bird to just about everybody media, and touching lyrics from the three ballads on the album ('10's', 'Suicide Note pt.1', and 'Floods'). Seth Putnam of the grincore band Anal Cunt also makes apperances as backing screamer on 'The Great Southern Tredndkill', 'War Nerve' and 'Suicide Note, Pt.2'.
Overall Impression — 8
This is not as good as other Pantera albums such as Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven but is better than Cowboys from Hell. If there was less variety on the album then it would be better, but instead it gives you more options whatever mood you're in. 01. The Great Southern Trendkill - what a disappointment. The song starts of brilliantly, with ball crushing aggression and brilliant riffs and lyrics and some of the best vocals on the album. But then it ends and goes into a seemingly endless solo and harmonics spree which ruins the whole song. Still a great song to scream along to when you're hammered or angry. 02. War Nerve - a track pick. Some great Drop D riffing here. Not a flaw to be found, even after the chorus when he screams stuff about how all the money in the world couldn't buy him a second of trust or something. Some good old Anal Cunt guest vocals in the third verse as well. 03. Drag The Waters - describes the album in riffs. Very cool and chilling riffs, and an awesome solo. Some great lyrics here as well. Wrongly appears by itself on the two greatest hits albums, because this ain't exactly the best song here. But great all the same. 04. 10's - another track pick. The greater of all the ballads on this album, 10's is about being defeated. Which, along with the first two tracks and the Suicide Notes, makes this album seem like a swansong. But it wasn't and this has a goddamn awesome solo. 05. 13 Steps To Nowhere - awesome drum opening and a brilliant opening riff, massive chorus and hard arsed lyrics, and a kick ass attitude all join to make a beast of a track let down only by the badly done screaming and tedious middle eight riff. A track pick all the same. 06. Suicide Note Part 1 - synth? Acoustic 12 String? Soft singing? Lack of bass and drums? Pantera?!? Yes metalheads, this is the Texan quartet at it's most delicate. Drugs seem the answer to Phil's whines as he cleans out his closet of misery. Beautiful song. 07. Suicide Note Part 2 - all that happened on '...Part 1' crashes, burns and explodes as Suicide Note Part 2 kicks in at over 270 bpm. All the anger throughout Phil's life comes out here, with more of Seth Putnam's yells appearing here. A live favorite, but not one of mine, due to the crappy long ending. 08. Living Through Me (Hellswrath) - a crusher, almost perfect up to when they decide to take a coffee break and sit around talking for about a minute when they realise they have the rest of the song to play and jam straight back into the awesome jaw dropping solo-less track. Great with too many flaws. 09. Floods - a seven minute epic in place, with more acoustic in the first 2 minutes of the song, and beautiful vocals. Goes distorted and loses vocals at the chorus riff, and then unplugs for the main solo. Then starts the pit filling chorus again, before one last soft solo. My favorite. 10. The Underground In America - great song, based on crime, youth and basically the shit of all the USA in 1996. Pounding riffs and actually some good vocals here. 11. (Reprise) Sandblasted Skin - I don't remember a lot of this, apart from the fact that is was head raping and hard to understand and contained different bits from the album. So I don't really like it. If this album was stolen I would buy it again just to have the actual CD even though I have all the songs on my computer, because it's a great album to have, and I actually prize this album because it has a lot on it for whatever mood I'm in. I would get Vulgar Display Of Power before this, though.