PANTERA — Cowboys From Hell

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PANTERA - Cowboys From Hell cover
4.21 | 108 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1990

Filed under Groove Metal
By PANTERA

Tracklist

1. Cowboys From Hell (4:06)
2. Primal Concrete Sledge (2:13)
3. Psycho Holiday (5:19)
4. Heresy (4:46)
5. Cemetery Gates (7:02)
6. Domination (5:04)
7. Shattered (3:22)
8. Clash With Reality (5:16)
9. Medicine Man (5:15)
10. Message in Blood (5:09)
11. The Sleep (5:47)
12. The Art of Shredding (4:18)

Total Time: 57:41

Line-up/Musicians

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

About this release

Atco Records

Thanks to Stooge, CCVP, Unitron for the updates

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PANTERA COWBOYS FROM HELL reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

martindavey87
Often mistaken for Pantera's debut album, 1990's 'Cowboys From Hell' saw a complete rebirth for the band, after four previous releases as an 80's glam band, they changed their sound to a heavier, more groove-based metal, did away with the spandex and hairspray, and with a big record label backing them, they really were a whole new band! And hell, you'd be forgiven for thinking so! I'd been a fan of the band for years before I ever knew they released albums before this one! Aw... the pre-internet days...

Hailed for keeping metal alive in the 90's, and highly regarded as the kings of what is known as "groove metal", as influential as this band would go on to become, I sometimes feel that a lot of the praise heaped upon 'Cowboys...' is almost hyperbolic. It's not a bad album, in fact it's very good, but I guess maybe it's become so highly revered by metal fans that when I came around to hearing it it'd been just a little bit overhyped.

Guitarist Dimebag Darrell, who would go on to become one of the most famous guitar players in metal, pumps out riff after riff, with the rhythm section of Rex Brown on bass and Vinnie Paul on drums perfectly giving the music it's famous groove. The icing on the cake is vocalist Phil Anselmo, who's brutal yet melodic singing can be enjoyed by thrash metal fans trying to cling to the 80's sound, or the more hardcore audience of the early 90's. Pantera had a versatile sound that helped them appeal to so many people.

With some groove-laden classics such as 'Cowboys From Hell', 'Domination', 'Psycho Holiday', 'Shattered' and one of the bands most famous songs, 'Cemetery Gates', it's easy to see why this record is so beloved! However, for all the good songs on offer here, there are a couple of absolute stinkers that plod along aimlessly, filling up space that would have been better left empty. And that's why, for all the love this album has received over the years, I can't see it as any more than "good".

But hey, a good album is still an album worth getting.
Warthur
I don't think by the end of the 1980s anyone would have seriously expected Pantera to spearhead a whole new metal subgenre, but that's exactly what they did with Cowboys From Hell - take a thrash base, add a snaky kind of groove to the riffs thanks to the capabilities of Dimebag Darrell (RIP), and have Phil Anselmo showcase his knack for balancing shouty aggression with more colourful vocal gymnastics.

In retrospect, of course, the signs that Pantera were evolving into a new form were already there; their preceding album, Power Metal, had seen them veering away from the glam metal they'd previously dealt in and dealing in a more traditional heavy metal sound, but who could have guessed this major change? I actually kind of think that Pantera's apprenticeship in glam metal prepared them better for pioneering this new style than is often acknowledged; there's a certain catchiness to a lot of the stuff on here which suggests that even though Pantera had found a new edge derived from their thrash metal influences, they still had enough pop sensibilities to keep things accessible, which may well be the secret of the album's massive mainstream success.

The tragedy of Dimebag's murder does not take away anything from the excellent lead guitar masterclass he offers up here. The embarrassment of Phil Anselmo's troubling and repugnant white power posturing (spilling over into a Dimebag tribute show, for crying out loud!) may exonerate Dimebag and Vinnie's decision to part ways with Phil when they did, but it doesn't make Phil's vocals any less perfect for the material here. I don't think this will ever be a five-star favourite album of mine - but then again, groove metal isn't a genre I usually enjoy, and I can still appreciate this as a great little album and a crowning glory of the style. "Often imitated, rarely equalled" might be the best way to put it.
siLLy puPPy
A gateway drug to groove metal with this one since it was really not only the first but is perhaps the best the sub has to offer as well. As with many a metal lover out there, i too took this to be the debut album by PANTERA but OMG!!!! NO! It was the fifth album to be exact. I cannot think of a more dramatic change in all of music history and style shift that PANTERA exhibited on COWBOYS FROM HELL from their excruciatingly LAAAAAAME albums that came before and i even like glam metal. After becoming quite the PANTERA fan in the 90s i was absolutely flabbergasted by the fact that they put out albums before this one although the real reason (of my not knowing) is that they themselves disowned their very existence. So in short they evolved from mindless teenage dumbery with songs like “Ride My Rocket” and “Hot And Heavy” to full-on groovilicious thrash romping cuts like “Primal Concrete Sledge,” “Psycho Holiday” and “Message In Blood.”

Right from the beginning of this groove thrash classic we hear a totally original sounding intro that leads to some of the most addictive whiskey-fueled guitar riffin’ laid down to tape. Dimebag Darrell shows no mercy with down-tuned chuggin’ on his guitar while conjuring up the tastiest solos that metal has to offer along with a doomier sound that really allows Rex Brown’s bass to break through the treble wars and in cahoots with Vinnie Paul’s drums and Phil Anselmo’s power meets thrash vocal acrobatics is enough to blow the lid off the Houston Astrodome! I would cite PANTERA as the band that invented groove metal and at this stage on COWBOYS FROM HELL we encounter a perfect amalgamation and intermediary step of their career from the traditional glam metal that got a little too happy in mom’s make up cabinet to the harder edged seriously nihilistic heavier metal of the late 80s and early 90s. The result of which is one of my absolute favorite metal albums of all times for the magic that is unleashed on this album is nothing less than a lightning bolt that strikes a virgin under a rainbow and gives birth to dolphins with endorphin guns that make me feel oooooh sooooo goooood :-P

One other mistaken concept for me was that this was the debut of Phil Anselmo but lo and behold he was on the previous album, which sucks! Anywayz, it doesn’t get better for a serious headbangin’ fool such as myself with a whole menu of diverse tracks that all kick ass but in seriously different ways. The title track sets the stage but the second track “Primal Concrete Sludge” introduces a hypnotic single chord riff that alternates with excellently timed chorus riffs and even an unlikely solo. Acoustic guitar intros are no mystery to metal but how PANTERA handles these on “Cemetery Gates” and “The Sleep” is nothing less than phenomenal as they set up the song ratcheting emotional response that PANTERA excelled at and what about that doom thrash outro on “Domination” with the lightning fast solo adding a layer of tension to it? Damn, this is one of those desert isle picks for me. Never get tired of hearing it and one of the most influential metal albums ever that gave the cheesier side of the genre a serious kick in the arse exactly when it needed it and allowed countless others to join the party.
Phonebook Eater
One of my favorite Thrash Metal albums, and one of my favorite heavy Metal albums. Every song in here is heaven to my ears, and every time I listen to this my mind is always blown.

What makes this album so special is for sure Phil Anselmo's powerful and amazing voice, and of course the incredible guitar playing of Dimebag Darryl, one of my favorite metal guitarists.

It's hard for a true metal fan not to like this album, since it's perfect, with very strong and powerful melodies, virtuous playing, and some other elements, especially in the semi ballad "Cemetary Gates". Some have called Pantera groove metal, due to their bluesy solos and rhythms, as well as their riffs, obviously influenced by this genre. But we also find many other influences from other metal bands: in "Domination", there is a bit of Testament, while in the already mentioned "Cemetary Gates" we find some Glam Metal in the slow intro, and in the violent one some Iron Maiden ( particularly concerning Anselmo's performance).

Despite all these things, the album has a style of it's own, that made a huge influence on many bands today, making "Cowboys from Hell" an essential listen for any metalhead.

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