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4.06 | 90 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 1992

Filed under Groove Metal


1. Mouth for War (3:57)
2. A New Level (3:57)
3. Walk (5:14)
4. Fucking Hostile (2:48)
5. This Love (6:32)
6. Rise (4:36)
7. No Good (Attack the Radical) (4:49)
8. Live in a Hole (5:00)
9. Regular People (Conceit) (5:27)
10. By Demons Be Driven (4:40)
11. Hollow (5:48)

Total Time: 52:53


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

About this release

Full-length, Atco / Atlantic, February 21st, 1992

Reissued by ATCO / Eastwest records together with "Far Beyond Driven" as a 2CD set in 2008.

Thanks to CCVP, Stooge, UMUR, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

The legendary Vulgar Display of Power. The TRUE original tough guy metal album, and the bottom line set for all of Groove Metal. Does it live up to the hype? Well, yes and no.

Vulgar Display of Power is actually one of the first metal albums I’d heard, thanks directly to three of its songs inspiring music in Doom. Back then, Phil’s harsh vocals bulging with testosterone were too tough for middle school me. I couldn’t handle the masculine aggression in that creature, but the riffs were awesome enough to get me to stay until my ears were able to withstand the full-on assault of his drug infused gorilla arms. The music was practically seeping with bull semen and stale alcohol, the guitar tone a disgusting buzzsaw drawl, and the drums hitting like concrete. The cover represents the music well.

The album jumps between aggressive Thrash beats and sharp riffs to plodding, sludgy groove sections; this pretty much set the standard for Groove Metal to follow as Thrash’s slower brother. For me, the Thrash bits are the best part. Songs like “Rise” are perfect example of unrelenting aggression. The pure Groove tracks like “Walk” do very little for me, and it’s that aspect of the album that makes it weaker than Cowboys from Hell to me. However, slower numbers “This Love” and the devastating “Hollow” are super unique and very well-done examples of Pantera’s slower side.

So why do I say “yes and no” as to whether this album lives up to the hype? Well, because across the span of many websites and circles, Vulgar Display of Power is actually not rated insanely high, usually sitting around the “great album, but no masterpiece” numbers. And that’s exactly what it is, simply an unprecedented, flawed, off-center punch in the face like no other. It is unabashedly itself; no masterpiece, but a very vulgar display of power that you can’t look away from, and will certainly never forget.
Nothing hits harder than this album when one's pissed off or overwhelmed with emotions and it works every time. It's an instant surge of energy, and before you know it the album's finished and you feel empowered.

There's not a single dud on here, there isn't even a song that's less memorable. Of course you have the metal anthem that is Walk, but the whole album is an anthem of metal spirit. Phil Anselmo is unmatched in gruff screams, with only John Bush (Anthrax) and John Tardy (Obituary) coming close to the unhinged forcefulness. Dimebag is for good reason well respected for his solo skills, but also of note is how heavy of a sound he gives the band from being the only guitarist. Last but not least the rhythm section is among the best, it's just hook after hook and even during a solo there's something groovy in the background.

Also, it's possibly the album cover best representative of the music inside, just one forceful punch to the face that lasts for a fantastic 52 minutes. If asked to pick a top five albums of all time, this would definitely be one of those.
If you're a metal fan, you're no doubt gawking at this three-star review and seething with anger, and nothing I say will justify my views in your eyes. So let me just say, to Pantera; I'm sorry.

Pantera were one of the first metal bands I got into way back in the day, and I'm sure there was a time when I first purchased this CD that I thought it was awesome, even though I'd never really heard it enough times to familiarize myself with it. As a result, years of neglect and seeing absolutely nothing but the highest reverence for it has set the bar very high. Too high, in fact, as 'Vulgar Display...' has failed to live up to my expectations.

It's not a bad album, but it's very much the same as its predecessor, 'Cowboys From Hell', in that it's a good record with its fair share of filler songs, but it hasn't been helped by the expectations set by the countless fans who treat it like an absolute masterpiece. I mean, c'mon now... 'By Demons Be Driven' and 'No Good (Attack the Radical)' are incredibly forgettable.

But when Pantera do get it right... oh boy! 'Mouth For War', 'This Love', 'A New Level', 'Regular People (Conceit)' and the legendary though slightly overrated 'Walk' are all ballsy songs that are heavy as hell and groove-laden to the brim, with enough attitude and energy to make up for the albums shortcomings.

And the performances are all-round pretty good. Guitarist Dimebag Darrell shows off all the skills that would validate his countless accolades as one of the genres all-time greats, and vocalist Phil Anselmo screeches passionately with pure disdain at the world. While not every track is to my liking, there's no denying the chemistry between everyone.

In conclusion, 'Vulgar Display...' is one of the most influential metal albums from the 90's, and while it's reputation may be justified, I don't think it's stood the test of time too well. Perhaps it's one of those things where "you had to be there" to truly appreciate it.
Consciously crafted as a counterpoint to Metallica's Black Album - Pantera deciding to go heavier even as Metallica were rushing in the opposite direction - Vulgar Display of Power makes a powerful statement of intent with its title and its cover art, and it delivers on that promise impressively, turning in an album which I think has a strong edge on Cowboys From Hell.

Essentially, the band keep doing what they were doing on Cowboys, only they are a few steps more brutal about it; indeed, to my ears the opening sections of A New Level aren't too far away from death metal. Phil Anselmo's vocals are terrifyingly furious, Dimebag gives an all-time career great performance, and Vinnie Paul's drums really takes the album to the next era.

As with Cowboys, the tragedy of Dimebag's murder and farce of Phil's racist posturing can't take away from the sheer power of this release. If Cowboys From Hell debuted groove metal as a new subgenre, Vulgar Display of Power demonstrates just how extreme groove metal can get.
siLLy puPPy
After setting the world on fire with their groundbreaking groove metal major label debut release “Cowboys From Hell,” the Texas bad boys PANTERA were poised to become the next biggest thing in metal and with their followup release VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER (a title taken from the 1973 film “The Exorcist”), they achieved just that. In the the wild and woolly 90s metal was splintering off in more directions than an explosive detonation of a TNT factory and with their newly discovered direction of groove metal, PANTERA had risen to the top of the metal universe. With catchy riffs, super heavy crunchy guitar, bass, explosive drums and rancid punk attitude dripping from every orifice, the band continued to build their legacy with some thought provoking tracks (“Mouth For War”) and some totally banal adolescent ones (“Walk.”)

Yes, gone and forgotten were the embarrassing glam metal years of the 80s and PANTERA had emerged as the new bad ass bros from the South with a hellacious heavy sound that fit in with the Slayer, Metallica and Megadeth crowds. Well, the new PANTERA was here to stay and with VULGAR they simply cemented that wise career decision of changing things up and never looked back. The momentum from all the hype around this album earned the band some touring time with the bigwigs of the day including Skid Row, Soundgarden, Megadeth and White Zombie. All of the exposure along with their addictive mid tempo thrash turned groove made PANTERA one of the biggest metal bands of the 90s. One again Phil Anselmo, Dimebag Darrell, Rex and Vinnie Paul dished out their new sound in super heavy doses.

While in many ways VULGAR follows in the footsteps of “Cowboys,” this to me comes across as the weaker of the two. Gone are the wonderful range of sounds and vocal styles. While on “Cowboys” Phil Anselmo displayed wide ranging vocal performances from heavy attitude filled blistering metal to tender Halford inspired shreds and screams on certain tracks like “Cemetery Gates” and “The Sleep,” on VULGAR he went full on heavy metal punk style for the full run. The sole exception to this is the finale “Hollow.” Likewise the band delivers a more blistering raucous sound focusing on their heaviest aspects and tamping down on the tender slower ones. This results in a less diverse album that makes VULGAR a powerhouse of raw aggression with steaming testosterone filled rants but fails to convey the wide range of sounds PANTERA showed they were capable of on “Cowboys From Hell.”

Of course VULGAR went on to sell millions and made PANTERA international superstars in the metal universe, but personally i find this album is a step down from the previous one. By creating a more one dimensional sound they may have appealed to a wider audience but sacrificed something in the process. However a step down from a masterpiece still results in a great album. All the catchy grooves are still here. All the metal attitude is exploding in yer face and the energy level firing on all pistons. The album starts off strong with my favorite tracks “Mouth For War,” “A New Level” and the 12/8 time signature riff of “Walk” strutting into your metal consciousness stealing the thunder and creating one of their most recognized tracks, but unfortunately i tend to get bored by the end of this one with one churning riff after another slowly bleeding into each other and becoming interchangeable. Based on the strength of the first half of the album i find this to be an excellent PANTERA album but i find this much less accomplished as “Cowboys From Hell” and not as interesting musically as the more experimental releases to follow.
The Angry Scotsman
Pantera's Magnum Opus

Pantera is a band that is hit or miss for me. The "hits" are superb but the "misses" are boring, if not outright bad. However, this is largely avoided on "Vulgar Display of Power". It is Pantera's strongest effort and the crown jewel of Groove Metal. Not sure exactly what that is? No problem, you won't have to wait very long to find out. It kicks in from the very start!

Mouth for War starts with a thundering drum beat, a heavy, groovy riff and continues along at a nice mid tempo pace. Then come in Phil's vocals, being belted out punk intensity. Throw in a Dimebag solo, (a bit melodic and a bit shred!) and end on a thrashy note.

A New Level. Begins with a heavy, spidery riff before kicking into a minimalist thrashy riff. It alternates between these two, again being pushed by Phil's vocals. Some of Vinnie Paul's better drumming. Classic Dime solo, lots of wah and shred!

Walk. Possibly their most famous song, it really does deserve its praise. Built around the songs famous riff, (which really does have a walking feel to it) it's fairly straightforward, but effective. Awesome solo with really sweet bass rhythm under it.

F*cking Hostile. Exactly what the name says, intense thrash! Greatest ending to a song ever!

This Love. A very intriguing song. A heavy metal ballad done only how Pantera could. Melodic and nice, but still has some pockets of extreme intensity though, and some great riffing.

Rise. Very thrashy song, also displays one of the best riffs on the album. Heavy and staccato, it is the quintessential alt metal riff. A lot of thrash and a great solo, yet again with awesome bass backing it up.

No Good (Attack the Radical). Interesting song. Slower, with an interesting this is a really cool song, and the deep talking parts over bass and drums is just awesome. Amazing solo, in my opinion one of the unknown gems by Dimebag. The lyrics, dealing with Phil's views on racism, are also quite interesting.

Live in a Hole. Another slower song with an unusual structure, this has some of the best music by each instrument on the album.

Regular People (Conceit). Really cool song, but a bit samey and uninspired. Though it does have an interesting section after the solo.

By Demons Be Driven. Slower, with heavy, machine gun bursts of riffing this song is good but drags on. Backing vocals are quite good though.

Hollow. Really good song, though reminiscent of "This Love" it's a bit more traditional heavy metal ballad, but still with some heavy and intriguing heavy/clean guitar harmonies.

The definitive work for groove metal, this album is built around Dimebag's riffing, Vinnie Paul's drumming and is pushed along by Phil's intense vocals. The bass is sadly absent, except for rhythm under the solos sometimes. The riffing is heavy, groovy and often staccato but sometimes technical and off the wall. Vinnie's drumming is some of my favorite, more musical then virtuoso. He just lays down some great beats, and his use of double bass in the beats, (instead of in walls) is awesome, and does make the occasional use of double bass feel even more intense. Phil's vocals are essential to the album. More then just screaming, you can feel real emotion behind them. Oh, and lets not forget some epic shred solos!

The songs may be a tad samey, and the album does fall off a bit at the end, (though finishes on a strong note) this is a great album. To the nu metal bands that may have spawned from this, all I have to say is WALK ON HOME BOY!

This is groovy mid tempo thrash at its finest!

Four and a Half Stars

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