Pantera’s Power Metal album was released in May of 1988. It is the first album to feature vocalist Phil Anselmo after Terry Glaze had departed the band. The lineup includes a young guitarist by the name of Dimebag Darrell, who went by the name Diamond Darrell, bassist Rex Brown, who went by Rex Rocker, and Vinnie Paul on drums.
The album starts out with the song Rock The World, and the opening riffs heavily showcase the influence Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhodes had on Dimebag. The Groove in the song sways like waves until Phil’s vocals kick in as Dime’s riffs in the background foreshadow what was to come next with their next album, Cowboys From Hell. Now, in this album in its entirety, you can clearly hear Rob Halford’s influence on Phil’s vocals. He sings in such a higher register and hits those high notes throughout the album… The song is like a power anthem of world domination. “WE RAISE OUR FIST IN REBELLION WE STAND” is one of the lyrics. Vinnie’s signature drum sound of what was to evolve with Pantera was also definitely forming in this song. You can hear nuances of songs that were yet to be created, like with some of the beats in Domination.
The second song is the album’s title track, “Power Metal“. It definitely starts out with the early Thrash-Speed Metal sound of Metallica, and of course Slayer, which is no surprise as Pantera regularly toured with Slayer in the early days, and throughout most of their time as a band. Dime and Kerry King were known as brothers! The drums are heavily noticed in the first part, where Dime seems to have softened his guitar, and you can hear Rex’s bass in synchrony with Vinnie’s beats. This song truly is a hint to the heavier and faster songs that were to come, especially with Cowboys From Hell and even the Vulgar Display of Power album. Dime finally builds us up into one of his insane solos ending with that whammy bar squeal we all LOVE to hear, as Phil’s voice echoes the high note.
We venture on into the third track called “We’ll Meet Again”, and it slows down the tempo a bit from Power Metal. You really hear the Southerny-Soulful Groove of Pantera in this song. The riff Dime starts out with has a hint of Cemetary Gates, as it rolls into a melodic, bassy guitar tone, as Phil’s slow talking vocals kick in, “I’ve walked the streets of darkness, where Hell Awaits” – one can only comprehend it’s a nod to Slayer’s 1983 album, Hell Awaits. The vocals are similar, yet not as deep as what you’d hear on No Good [Attack The Radical] on Vulgar Display of Power. Soon the higher register vocals kick in, as there’s a higher pitch sound in the guitar tone, with that classic 80’s Metal sound….As Dime’s melodic guitar solo kicks in and then goes into a whirlwind of spiderweb scales, you hear Phil whispering “goodbye”…
Over And Out, the fourth track, kicks back up on the Speed element, and you almost even get an Iron Maiden vibe from some of the riffs, then it goes into heavier tones, where there’s even hints of Primal Concrete Sledge and Cowboys From Hell. The drums are very rhythmic, and every so often Vinnie lets loose and picks up the speed.. This song starts with the heavier vocals of Phil, not quite screaming, but definitely harsher than what you’ve heard so far on the album! You also hear the high register screams in the background. You hear Rex’s bass in the background grooving to the tempo between the drumbeats, bringing the song together as Phil and Dime harmonize. There’s even a cowbell sound at one point! It is all followed by a DIZZYING guitar solo by Dime, where the Southern squeals are heard loud and clear, like a horse heading into battle! Then it goes into super heavy, super-fast instrumental jam. You even hear hints of Regular People [Conceit] riffs toward the end of the song!
Next up, we hear Proud To Be Loud, the fifth track and another fast pasted one with anthem style lyrics. It begins with some Groove style riffs, as it hits you in the face with a short Dimebag solo, then heading into some very KISS style beats and riffs, who the entire band were major fans of, to the point Dimebag got Ace Frehley’s autograph tattooed on his chest, over his heart. There are even some vibes of Motley Crue going on in this song. The entire band melodically shouts the chorus, “I’m proud to be loud, proud to be loud, I’m proud to be loud!” Then it heads into another Dimebag solo, which almost sounds like early inspiration for the Domination solo! Two Dimebag solos in one song, yes please!!!!!
As we make it to the sixth track, which is one of the shortest on the entire record at two-minutes and fifty-one seconds, called Down Below. It starts off with some riffs that are a tiny bit slower than most of the album we’ve heard so far as it starts building up into straight up Thrash-Speed, with a Master of Puppets vibe, maybe even a hint of early Hardcore style riffs. Phil’s voice really shows off the high register vocals in this one! About halfway into the song, you can really hear Rex’s signature bass lines right before Dime shreds the fucking solo, as toward the end of it, Phil’s vocals echo Dime’s wails, which they were so amazing at doing! You kind of get an early preview The Art of Shredding in this song.
The seventh track is called Death Trap, which automatically makes you feel like you’re about to get kicked hard based off the name without even hearing the song. It starts out with another high energy, fast paced, melodic-groove style riff. You also feel a vibe of You’ve Got Another Thing Coming by Judas Priest… Soon Phil’s Rob Halford style screams intertwine with Dime’s guitar right as the solo starts to kick in, and it’s another one Dime totally shreds on, along with the whammy induced squeals in between the riffs before rolling into the rest of the song, where you hear Vinnie pounding away at the drums with his Rock ‘n Roll style beats and timing, as you hear Rex’s bass lines in between each beat, something that made Pantera so unique and timeless.
Track number eight is called Hard Ride, and it sets a very different tone and ambience at the beginning of the song than any other song on the album. It’s more melodic, with even a triangle in the background, or something mimicking a triangle sound in between Dime’s guitar riffs that are a vague hint of the beginning of This Love from Vulgar Display of Power. The song then kicks into a faster paced, yet still very melodic sound…Slower than most of the other tracks on Power Metal. Phil’s vocals begin, they’re a little deeper with a raspiness than what we’ve heard throughout the album. The song speeds up a little as it builds into the higher pitch vocals throughout the song…There’s a moment of the guitar creeping as the riffs transform into a higher pitch melody as Phil does his deep talking vocals, right before the solo kicks in, which is one of the slower solos on the album. You then hear more chimes or triangles before that classic 80’s Metal sound kicks in.
We come to the ninth track, which is called Burnnn! At first it sounds like a car is trying to start….And it soon revs into another high-speed Thrash influenced song, with a crazy riff that sounds like you’re driving a car erratically in a zig zag pattern while spinning in donuts along the way. The vocals are along the higher pitch sides. The drums are a bit faster than most of the songs on the albums, and you hear Rex peeking through with some serious heaviness on the bass… Dime’s solo kicks in, it’s another slower one, at least in reference to the rest of the album, with some high pitch squealing going on!
And here we are at the final track called P*S*T*88. It is the shortest on the record at two minutes and forty-two seconds. It is a party anthem. The lyrics were not printed on this album, instead the band wanted you to interpret the lyrics for yourself because they were so wild and crazy….It sounds like they were singing “Pussy Time Tonight” throughout the song though! HAHA!
The track starts off with a riff that has a nuance of classic Megadeth. In between the riffs toward the second half of the song, you hear Dime lightly shred in between each riff, alternating back and forth, until a short solo kicks in. At the end of the song, you hear the band making all kinds of weird noises. All in all, it sounded like they had a fucking blast recording not only this song in the studio, but the entire album!
You can catch Phil, Rex, Zakk Wylde, and Charlie Benante honoring the legacy of PANTERA on tour throughout the rest of the year in Mexico and South America, and also in Europe next year! You can purchase tickets on the official Pantera website.
PANTERA TOUR 2022:
December 2nd – Hell & Heaven Open Air – Texcoco, Mexico
December 6th – Monterrey Metal Fest – Monterrey, Mexico
December 9th – Knotfest Columbia – Bogota, Columbia
December 11th – Knotfest Chile – Santiago, Chile
December 12th – Movistar Arena – Santiago, Chile [headline]
December 15th – Vibra Sao Paulo – Sao Paulo, Brazil
December 18th – Knotfest Brazil – Sao Paulo, Brazil
June 2-4th – Rock AM Ring – Nurburg, Germany
June 10th – Sweden Rock Festival – Solvesborg, Sweden
June 22-24th – Tons Of Rock – Oslo, Norway
Column written by Jenna Williams ‘The Scream Queen’