- Vulgar Display Of Power - Pantera
Released: February 25, 1992
#8 I have to admit to arriving late to the table on this one. By time I was introduced to this album by my cousin Greg, it was October of 1992. The rest of Pantera-nation had already had 8 months to digest this masterpiece of metal before I even had heard of the band, one of the greatest metal bands in history. I was specifically introduced to the song "This Love" and immediately fell in love with that song.
My cousin was away at school, and I went down to Arkansas to visit him. I had only been there a short time when he started telling me about this great song by a "new" band. (Well, they were new to us anyway.) The song was "This Love". We listened to that song several times over the course of my visit, and that song was emblazoned on my brain by time I left. We did dabble in a few of the other songs on this masterpiece that weekend, but always returned back to "This Love".
I bought a copy of VDOP shortly after returning home. And from the opening guitar riff of "Mouth For War" I was even further hooked. The Pantera bug had bitten me and infected me badly, and I, as well as my neck muscles, would never be the same. You might think I am joking but it is nearly impossible to listen to VDOP without bobbing your head, tapping your foot, and/or outright banging your head. I have also found that listening to VDOP while driving is hazardous to every other driver on the road. It is nearly impossible not to drive fast and aggressively while listening to VDOP.
There really is not a weak song on this entire release. Pantera was on top of their game for this album, as well as its predecessor Cowboys From Hell. They also struck metal gold with their follow-up album Far Beyond Driven. After that the magic began to fade. Not that subsequent albums weren't good, just that they didn't approach the same level of metal genius that these three did. Unfortunately the band eventually couldn't coexist any longer and they went their separate ways.
It would be wrong not mention "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott's fate when discussing Pantera. As most people know he was murdered on stage in Columbus, OH while performing with his band Damageplan, that also featured his brother Vinnie Paul on drums. He was murdered by an enraged Pantera fan, a mentally unstable fan that couldn't deal with the break-up of Pantera. The insane fan blamed Darrell for the band's break-up and that supposedly caused him to do what he did. Enough about that.
The late Darrell Abbott was an incredible guitarist. He was always underrated, and it is just now post-mortem that he is receiving his due for the impact and influence he has had in the metal genre. He was inventive, experimental, and truly had a unique style and sound. His brother Vinnie was Pantera's drummer and Vinnie is an incredibly gifted drummer. Some of the beats he pounded out left you shaking your head (in between banging it!). Rex Brown was the band's accomplished bassist. Phil Anselmo was the band's lead singer and gave the band much of its attitude and personality.
That personality was one of aggression, and angst, and anger. I have begun in recent years to refer to Pantera as Anger Metal. This anger and aggression is what made Pantera's music go. There was unmistakable anger and aggression in their sound, even without Anselmo's angry vocals. The lyrical content was often angry as well, and it was the blend of all three of these elements that made Pantera unique. VDOP embodied that more than any other of their albums and that is why it is a must have. If there was one album you'd want someone to hear to get the gist of Pantera, Vulgar is it.
Unfortunately some of the lyrical content is such that you can't listen to it in mixed company. Including one song whose title can't even be repeated. As I've grown older I have grown more sensitive to that kind of thing, as I don't remember having a huge problem with it 16 years ago. I say unfortunately because the music is so good, the writing, production and mixing is so good, that it would be great to listen to this more often.
Anger Metal at its absolute best is what VDOP is all about. Pantera hit a home-run, check that, a grand-slam with this release. As good as this release is the band's live shows were even better. The raw energy from the stage was always palpable. It is a shame that they can never be reunited to recapture that magic. But at least we have Vulgar Display Of Power to fall back on.