PANTERA — The Great Southern Trendkill (review)

PANTERA — The Great Southern Trendkill album cover Album · 1996 · Groove Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
"The Great Southern Trendkill" is the 8th full-length studio album by US groove metal act Pantera. The album was released through East West Records in May 1996. It´s the successor to "Far Beyond Driven" from 1994, which proved to be a great commercial success for the band, but during the tour supporting the album, things began to change between the members of the band. Lead vocalist Phil Anselmo started acting strange and distancing himself from the rest of the band, and his performances also started to suffer. Anselmo suffered from a back injury (sustained because of his energetic live performances through many years), and had begun self-medicating with alcohol, but soon turned to heroin...and that´s when things really went south. Animosity and resentment grew between the four members of the band, to a point where the material for "The Great Southern Trendkill" were recorded at two seperate studios. The instrumental part of the music was recorded in Dallas, Texas, while Anselmo recorded his vocals at Trent Reznor's studio in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Stylistically "The Great Southern Trendkill" also comes off a bit disjointed and it´s definitely Pantera´s most experimental album. The core style is still groove metal, featuring the trademark heavy blues based riffs by Dimebag Darrell. The heavy grooves are however only a part of the sound on "The Great Southern Trendkill", which also features more experimental riff types, adventurous guitar solos, acoustic parts, and a wide range of raw, screaming, and aggressive vocals. Anselmo also delivers some clean vocals on the album, so overall "The Great Southern Trendkill" is a varied release.

"War Nerve", "Drag the Waters" (the only track off the album which was made into a music video), "13 Steps to Nowhere", "Living Through Me (Hell's Wrath)", "(Reprise) Sandblasted Skin", and "The Underground in America" are all groove laden and riff heavy aggressive tracks, while both the opening title track and "Suicide Note, Part II" are faster paced and more experimental in nature, featuring crazy screaming vocals. The album also features a ballad type track in "Suicide Note, Part I" (which wouldn´t have felt wrong if it was placed on the predominantly acoustic "Jar of Flies (1994)" EP by Alice in Chains) and two dark power ballads in "10's" and "Floods". I´m not sure power ballad is the best way to describe the two latter, as they are quite twisted and dark, but it´s the closest to a generic description I can find.

"The Great Southern Trendkill" features a powerful and heavy sound production, which suits the material perfectly, and paired with the strong musicianship, and the adventurous songwriting, the album is a high quality release. It did not sell the numbers that "Far Beyond Driven (1994)" did, and did not feature as many "hits" as the predecessor, but to my ears it´s probably the stronger of the two. It definitely doesn´t show a band who have lost their nerve or will to experiment with their sound, and it ends up being both a weakness and a strength. It´s a weakness because "The Great Southern Trendkill" is not a particularly accessible album nor is it as catchy as much of the material on the last three releases, and at times it does feel a bit incoherrent, but it´s a strength because Pantera still sound hungry, aggressive, and playful. It´s certainly a bold release at this point in their career. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
more than 2 years ago
My second favorite Pantera album after Cowboys From Hell. This one takes longer to sink in but it easily ranks as one of my top metal albums of all time. The one track that has always rubbed me the wrong way is the opening title track for some reason. The rest of the album is freekin amazing!
Vim Fuego wrote:
more than 2 years ago
This album is generally way underrated. I liked it a lot more than Far Beyond Driven when it was released.


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