Pantera - The Great Southern Trendkill (2LP)
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Thankfully, Pantera has stopped attempting to outdo each successive album in terms of start-to-finish intensity, but that doesn't mean they don't try in spots. The Great Southern Trendkill is burdened with passages in which Phil Anselmo's vocals cross the line into histrionics, making the band's trademark intensity sound dull, forced, and theatrical rather than sincere. The lyrics, which reached their apex with Vulgar Display of Power's focus on personal politics and integrity, have degenerated into half-baked rants against drugs and pop-culture media. But Trendkill is partially redeemed by trading Pantera's usual pound-then-pound-harder approach to albums for a greater variety of tempos and moods. Dimebag Darrell, while mostly sticking to his familiar riffing style, does coax some intriguing, unexpected sounds from his instrument. Ultimately, though, the ballads and slower tracks ("10's," "Suicide Note, Pt. 1," and "Floods") provide the album's most chilling, memorable moments, and rank with their best material.