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3.50 | 60 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1994

Filed under Groove Metal


1. Strength Beyond Strength (3:38)
2. Becoming (3:05)
3. 5 Minutes Alone (5:47)
4. I'm Broken (4:24)
5. Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills (2:52)
6. Hard Lines, Sunken Cheeks (7:01)
7. Slaughtered (3:57)
8. 25 Years (6:05)
9. Shedding Skin (5:36)
10. Use My Third Arm (4:51)
11. Throes of Rejection (5:01)
12. Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath cover) (4:03)

Total time 52:31

Japanese bonus track:
13. The Badge (Poison Idea cover) (3:55)

Total Time: 56:26


- Phil Anselmo / lead vocals
- Dimebag Darrell / guitar, backing vocals
- Rex Brown / bass, backing vocals
- Vinnie Paul / drums

About this release

East West Records, March 22nd, 1994

Japanese version contains bonus track.

The album's original artwork of a drill bit impaling an anus was deemed too explicit for general release, so it was replaced with the more familiar skull impaled with a drill bit. The original artwork was used for some limited edition releases.

Thanks to Stooge, UMUR, Unitron, Vim Fuego for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"I'M, shedding skin, changing within, falling in"

No other band sings to the anger, frustrations, and deep inner emotions like Pantera for me. They hit hard both physically and emotionally on such a primal level, It's always a release of all the built up emotions ready to come out.

Far Beyond Driven is the band at their most thunderous production, on a good stereo this has the resonance of a cannon blast or an explosion. There's really cool atmospheric touches, mainly on Shedding Skin, probably my favorite song on here if I had to pick. The echo effect on Phil's vocals when he says "I'm" is a small detail yet enhances it a lot and compliments the crawling main riff.

Dimebag's guitar riffs are at their sludgiest, dripping with heavy weight and combined with dissonant screeching and breakdowns. Rex Brown's bass shows its true groove and great hooks, always complimenting Dime's discordant solos. The drums as always pack a punch, going from double kick to a syncopated swing. Phil's vocals though are what completes the extreme fury of this album, with some of the most intense vocals ever put to record, especially with the likes of Slaughtered.

There's so much variety throughout the album, yet always the same energy. Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills is noisy, chaotic, and incredibly dissonant. It reminds me of Slab!, with the combination of spoken word, huge drums, and screeching feedback. Some of the riffs sound a bit southern like something from Down, most notably on I'm Broken, but with the added extra aggression. The contrast is great, especially with 25 Years which always gets me pumped at the end, it's like the musical equivalent of a street brawl. Sometimes the variety is within one song, short songs like Strength Beyond Strength are as if they're split into different sections. It's something I haven't heard elsewhere other than some Megadeth songs like Wake Up Dead.

Ending with a mellow cover might seem odd at first, but with this album, Planet Caravan is a perfect finale. This album is so intense that it's near impossible to sit still, and the Black Sabbath cover acts as a perfect cool down after never letting up for 50 minutes. Far Beyond Driven was the band becoming even more than a fantastic thrash/groove metal band, and really can't be compared to anyone else.
Kev Rowland
It is safe to say that when I first came across Pantera with their fifth album, 1990’s ‘Cowboys From Hell’ I was not impressed, and over the last 30 years have recognised there have been some good songs from within their canon, but have never gone as massively overboard as many. So, when I was perusing the Warner Bros promotional site and came across this double CD reissue from 2014, celebrating the 20th anniversary of an album seen by many as being a classic, I thought why not? There is no doubt that Pantera these days are viewed by many as being an incredibly important band within the genre, and Dimebag’s death has only secured that notion, but listening to this with fresh ears more than a quarter of a century after it was recorded, one can only wonder why that is still the case.

The guys were all very good musicians, and in Anselmo they had an aggressive and over the top singer, while Dimebag was obviously influenced heavily by the likes of Tony Iommi, but where are the songs? There is little here which gets into the brain and sticks there, the result being that if this was a new album by an unknown band one wonders what the critics would think of it. Of course, the Pantera diehards will say this is a hugely important release, even more so that it has been remastered and paired with live songs from Donington which include classics such as “Fucking Hostile”. The only problem is that the recording is bootleg quality at best, and one gets the impression it has been deliberately left like that. Having delved back into the world of Pantera for the first time in aeons, I cannot say that I am any wiser as to why they are held in such high regard, as this is not the classic many hold it out to be.
‘Far Beyond Driven’ is the seventh studio album by groove metal band Pantera, and the third since their unofficial rebirth, having shed their 80’s glam days. It’s weird to me, however, that while the band were one of the most influential metal groups of the 90’s, and this release reached the number one spot on the Billboard charts, it’s really a fairly average release, and is brimming with subpar material.

The most notable difference with ‘Far Beyond Driven’ over its predecessors is the absolute brutality of the record. It’s by far heavier than anything the Texans had put out prior. But sadly this comes at a great cost, as most of the songs are incredibly lacklustre. While the album starts off promisingly enough, it very quickly becomes a rather repetitive affair, with most songs sounding like a bunch of riffs incoherently thrown together.

The production itself leaves much to be desired, with particular mention going to the drums, which at times sound programmed in. Phil Anselmo’s choice of screaming and shouting over singing has certainly upped the aggression of the album, but does nothing for me. The only real highlight is guitarist Dimebag Darrell, who’s influential guitar playing has garnered endless acclaim, however, even here, it feels slightly by the numbers.

‘Strength Beyond Strength’, ‘Five Minutes Alone’ and ‘I’m Broken’ are all decent enough tracks, and a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Planet Caravan’ actually works really well for the band (I’m not a fan of the original, but this one is pretty good). But overall however, none of these songs are all that memorable to me, and certainly don’t hold up well to the bands previous two releases.

It’s not the worst album I own, but for all the praise it received, it certainly doesn’t live up to the hype. Oh, and the song ‘Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills’ is an absolute abomination.
Vim Fuego
This album is considered a minor classic. Can someone explain why?

The riffs are excellent, the drumming intense, the vocals brutal. Problem is, Pantera forgot to write any songs. Most of this album is just a few riffs thrown together at random, the odd sub-Death Metal growl over things, continue for four or five minutes, then do it again. Most of this album is "brutal for brutal's sake", and forget playing music.

Case in point, "Becoming". There is just no flow to the song whatsoever, sounding like someone with Attention Deficit Disorder put it together. Vinnie Paul has the strangest kickdrum sound this side of an old Dismember album. Dimebag's riffs do not run into each other. Phil Anselmo growls monotonously. Rex's bass is there somewhere, and it just gets frustrating, because it should be better.

Dimebag Darrell's guitars are the high point of the album, and also a disappointment. He's a one of a kind player, but seemed intent in showing off. The guitar sound has a killer, crunching tone to it, but almost every song featured a clipped, almost staccato riff in it somewhere. Phil Anselmo must be one of the worst singers in metal. He has the vocal range of a rutting stag. His vocals are one dimensional, and many of the lyrics incredibly juvenile. `Good Friends And A Bottle Of Pills' has to be a contender for one of the worst songs to ever make it to record, so inane are the lyrics.

There are none of the classic headbangers on this album, like "Fucking Hostile" or "Primal Concrete Sledge" or "Domination". `Vulgar Display Of Power' suffered a little of the disjointed song writing too, yet the other albums either side of this pair are excellent.

Pantera seemed to be doing everything they could to distance themselves their early career "Glamtera" days by being as brutal as possible. They were also trying to distance themselves from the days when they were compared to Metallica. So they copied Exhorder's sound instead, note perfect but without the songs to back it up. Exhorder's albums sell second hand for many times the original price. "Far Beyond Driven" turns up in the bargain bin.

This is simply just not good music.
"Far Beyond Driven" is the 7th full-length studio album by US groove metal act Pantera. The album was released in March 1994 by East West Records. Upon release the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and it has been certified platinum in the US. Without a doubt Pantera´s most commercially succesful release. The blue cover artwork that most people are familiar with, which features a drill going through a skull, actually isn´t the original cover artwork. The original cover artwork which depicted a drill impaling an anus was censored by the record company and never made it unto the CD version of the album. The vinyl version ( or at least the vinyl version I´m holding in my hand) features the explicit artwork though.

The music on the album has taken a turn towards a much more groove based metal sound than the style Pantera played on the last couple of albums but the band have also started experimenting with unconventional riffs, various types of aggressive vocals and also some less straight forward rythms. "Far Beyond Driven" features some absolutely infectious groovy metal tracks like "5 Minutes Alone", "Broken" and "Use My Third Arm" ( check out the breakdown in the middle of that song) but also some highly aggressive and at times even brutal tracks like "Strength Beyond Strength" and "Slaughtered". My personal favorites on the album are the rythmically unconventional "Becoming" and the excellent "Shedding Skin" though. The noisy and repetitive "Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills" and "Hard Lines, Sunken Cheeks" don´t go down well with me. The album ends with a cover version of "Planet Caravan" by Black Sabbath which is a great mellow way to end an otherwise relentlessly aggressive album.

Besides the awfully triggered drum sound on the album I think the production is very powerful and professional. It does lack a bit of warmth though.

"Far Beyond Driven" is an immensely influential groove metal album and probably the most famous and commercially succesful album in the genre. In the years after the release of the album the metal scene would be flooded with imitators and worshippers. Some good, some bad. The point is that Pantera should be credited for being the band that brought the groove metal style to the masses. Personally there are things I really enjoy about this album and things I enjoy less, but viewed upon objectively this is quite a unique album and also a very innovative one, so somewhere between a 3.5 and a 4 star rating is fully deserved. After giving the album one final listen I´ve settled with a 4 star rating.

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