Pantera – Cowboys From Hell – 20 Years Later
Twenty years has passed since Pantera’s seminal album Cowboys From Hell was released. This album is what I like to call a game changer. Metal got a swift kick in the ass when this came out and it influenced a new wave of metal, appropriately dubbed “nu-metal”. It even spawned some clones…Fight anyone?
This was the beginning of the chugga-chugga era. People from around the world started to take notice of this little band from the Dallas/Ft Worth area of Texas. I remember hearing them several times a day on Z-Rock and even liked it when Diamond Darrell, as he was still called at the time, would come into the Z-Rock studios and let callers try and stump him on metal riffs. I don’t think I ever heard him get stumped, even when someone called in and asked for Omen and fates Warning riffs.
This album was huge for them and launched them into being the 2nd biggest metal band of the 90s behind Metallica, and rightfully so for the times.
This album deserves every bit of praise that it ever got. Too bad that I can’t stand this album. I think it’s awful. When I first heard Cemetery Gates I wanted to hurl. That riff in the chorus with the pinch harmonics drives me nuts. Then Cowboys From Hell? Blech!
So please allow me to drop back and punt a little. I had been listening to Pantera since 1986. Projects in the Jungle was my introduction to them thanks to a former friend from high school. I love that album, as cheesy as it may be. I Am the Night is damned good too. OK, Metal Magic isn’t so good, but it has some gems on it as well. I remember buying their Power Metal album, with Phil Anselmo on vocals, and thought, “Man, these guys really kick ass!” even with the dumb lyrics. Phil could wail. I loved this band a lot.
I can’t iterate enough how coarse CFH was to my ears. The band wasn’t recognizable to me any longer. Granted they weren’t even close to being one of my favorite bands at the time but I still enjoyed spinning their albums.
I remember when they were coming to Virginia Beach to play the Peppermint Beach Club. Some of my friends bought tickets and showed up at the venue early. The band was hanging out and meeting with people outside the venue. My buddies showed up with their pre-CFH record covers and Darrell and the rest of the band refused to sign them. I’ll never forget some friends recounting Diamond Darrell saying, “Get that shit out of here. That’s not us. We’re not fucking signing that!” Absolutely true story. They were all acting like dicks. I know a lot of people here in Texas who know/knew them and they are a bit surprised when I tell them the story. Darrell always struck me as a nice, genuine soul from interviews and such. Anselmo’s resume’ speaks for itself. Pity.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is to never diss your fans. Of course I’ve never had success like Pantera’s, but even in my little world of playing small gigs, garage bands that never even played out, making self-produced and financed records and going on the road for weekend gigs and such, no matter what, I would never talk shit to someone who took the time to come see my band play. NEVER. How shitty. It really killed any future interest I could have ever had in that band after that point.
I listened to this album in its entirety again recently to see if maybe my mind could be changed after all these years. Epic fail. While there are a few good riffs here and there and Phil showed a few flashes of still being able to sing, the album still did nothing for me.
I know I’m in the minority on this one and I am OK with that. A few months ago while at a show, 2 of the girls that were with us turned me on to the word Panterrible. It’s how I have referred to them since.
RIP Diamond Darrell. You surely didn’t deserve to go out like that.