Friday, July 24, 2015

25 Years of "Cowboys From Hell"

25 years ago, an album was dropped upon the world that changed the metal scene forever…yes, forever. That album? Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell”. While it wasn’t their first recorded material to see the light of day, this was their major label debut, and it became a surprise hit in the process.

“Cowboys From Hell” contained numerous heavy, yet somehow surprisingly catchy, songs that combined elements from Pantera’s glam-rock roots with much heavier rhythms. The opening title track? Fucking classic. “Cemetery Gates”? Also fucking classic (and the very first Pantera song I ever heard in my youth). “Domination”? One of the band’s most notable songs with an insane drum performance that made Vinnie Paul one of the all time kings of thrash metal drumming.

Phil Anselmo demonstrated impressive vocal range on “Cowboys From Hell”, managing to hit high notes that he could rarely hit in the years to come (then again, this was before he murdered his voice with the years of drinking, smoking, and drugs), along with the shredding guitar work of the late, great Dimebag (then called “Diamond”) Darrell. Rex Brown’s pumping bass lines and Vinnie Paul’s aforementioned drum assaults all combined to let the world know that metal music was phasing out of the glam-rock era, and evolving into something new and heavier with little to no compromises.

That in itself is the legacy of Pantera as a whole. They never compromised in terms of what was “hot” at the times they released their five studio albums. Though 1992’s “Vulgar Display of Power” and 1994’s “Far Beyond Driven” I feel are better all-around albums than “Cowboys From Hell”, it doesn’t negate the fact that this was the album that announced to the world that Pantera was here to do something a little different, and helped forge a legacy that just can’t be fucked with.

Now do yourself a favor: go listen to “Cowboys From Hell” from beginning to end. Maybe it’ll be the first time in a long time, maybe it’ll be the first time period. Either way, go do it.

Thank me later.

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