Monday, 6 February 2012

CD Review: Vulgar Display Of Power, by Pantera (1992)

Pantera turn all the knobs to eleven and unleash enough power to atomize concrete structures. Vulgar Display Of Power, the band's sixth album overall but second in their reset post-glam era, lives up to its name with an emphasis on delivering everything louder than everything else.

The album is not about intricate structures and nuanced compositions. Vulgar Display Of Power is straight-ahead head-banging encounters of the most basic kind, with the simplicity of the monstrous voltage a large part of the appeal. Taking the essence of Metallica, mixing in Anthrax, pumping up the depth of the sound barrage, and whacking the thick weeds to uncover the ultra aggressive path that would in the future lead to the likes of Lamb Of God, Vulgar Display Of Power creates a uniquely tight sound, post thrash and pre- metalcore, occasionally hinting at groove metal.

Fronting the assault are Diamond (later Dimebag) Darrell's guitar and Phil Anselmo's vocals, with Vinnie Paul's drums and the beefy base of Rex enjoying mop-up duties. Anselmo channels a hybrid of James Hetfield and Joey Belladonna, while Darrell stays away from shredding solos, focusing instead on finding ever more massive, wall-shaking riffs, endlessly repeatedly to ensure maximum damage. His brother Vincent ensures that no structures survive the follow-up pass through.

The three stand out track are opener Mouth For War, Fucking Hostile, and This Love. Mouth For War is a furious cannonball explosion of electricity, instantly changing the colour of the sky to a deep red, Darrell's guitar at its grooviest. Fucking Hostile doubles the speed to a break-neck pace, the sound evoking Anthrax with thicker muscles and a gnarlier attitude. This Love slows everything down until Darrel lets loose a staccato, heavy machine gun riff to send all weaklings scurrying to the nearest shelter.

Also notable is the back-end of album closer Hollow, the closest that Pantera come to Metallica, with the industrial machinery riffs placed on a grotesque dance floor for mashing monsters.

Legend has it that the bum on the cover was paid $10 per punch and punched 30 times to get the perfect shot. The music on Vulgar Display Of Power also aims straight at the chin, and delivers a knock-out blow from the first punch.


Diamond Darrell - Guitars
Rex - Bass
Vinnie Paul - Drums
Philip Anselmo - Vocals

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Mouth For War - 10 *see below*
2. A New Level - 7
3. Walk - 8
4. Fucking Hostile - 10
5. This Love - 10
6. Rise - 8
7. No Good (Attack The Radical) - 7
8. Live In A Hole - 7
9. Regular People (Conceit) - 7
10. By Demons Be Driven - 8
11. Hollow - 9

Average: 8.27

Produced, Engineered and Mixed by Terry Date and Vinnie Paul.
Mastered by Howie Weinberg.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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