Influenced, Music, My Stories

1996 – Part 4.4: Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill

Pantera was popular in Australia. Once they broke into our market, they stayed until they remained as a band.

“The Great Southern Trendkill” came out in May, 1996. It went to number 2 on our ARIA charts and it reached number 4 on the Billboard 200 chart.

It’s listed as their eighth album, however for the Phil Anselmo, Dimebag Darrell, Rex Brown and Vinnie Paul version of Pantera its album number 5 as their first album begins with “Power Metal” but it’s number four from their major label debut “Cowboys From Hell”. And that’s when the Pantera I know really started.

Terry Date and Vinnie Paul are producing, recording and mixing the album.

Coming in to the album, even a band like Pantera was on the outer. The marketing machines of the labels had put their dollars in Grunge and Industrial Metal acts like NIN and Ministry.

Internally, the Abbott brothers were not too impressed when Anselmo took time out to do the “Down” project and then do a 13 date tour with the group. And to top it off, Anselmo moved out of Texas and back home to New Orleans so his vocals were done on his own.

Anyway to the music.

The Great Southern Trendkill

It’s like Death Metal.

I like the riffs and the guitar solo, but the song doesn’t really resonate with me.

War Nerve

It’s very Black Sabbath like, doom sludge metal.

Drag the Waters

The main riff is bone crunching.

10’s

Iommi would be proud of this riff. Actually Zakk Wylde in Black Label Society would be proud of this riff. Vocally, Anselmo is strong here.

But press play on this to hear the acoustic arpeggio passages and Dimebag’s unbelievable solo over em.

13 Steps to Nowhere

It’s weird to explain this song. It’s experimental, a mixture of blues like grooves with a lot of distortion and Sabbath like doom breakdowns.

Suicide Note Pt. I

Synths and backwards effects and then the acoustic guitar kicks in. It’s almost Led Zeppelin like, with a bit of Southern Rock and I like it.

Suicide Note Pt. II

And then what happened. It’s death metal like, with blast beats and fast riffing, with some heavy metal like riffs chucked in here and there.

Living Through Me (Hells’ Wrath)

The riffs on this are “fists in the air, head banging” riffs.

Vocally I’m not a huge fan and halfway through it goes into a weird spoken interlude with weird industrial like effects.

Then a cathartic scream from Anselmo and the head banging riffs are back in.

Floods

The clean tone intro with the acoustic guitar under it, grabs my attention immediately. It’s almost Alice In Chains like, even though the band was critical of the Grunge movement.

Then again, Pantera songs like “Cemetery Gates” and “This Love” come to mind.

The whole “Die” section is heavy and demented but there is no denying the power of Dimebag and his bro Vinnie. These dudes nail every syncopated beat and lick down.

It’s been written extensively that the solo on this song is Dimebag’s best. And it is. If you need to press play on a track, then make this the one.

It’s composed of all these little guitar solo ideas he used for his live guitar spot, while Brown and Paul are simple in their foundations, letting Dimebag fill up the space with his leads.

The Underground in America

Musically, I like it. Vocally I hate it.

(Reprise) Sandblasted Skin

Dimebag brings the riffs again.

In the end it was certified Platinum in the U.S and it charted well in a lot of other countries.

And while the relationships were strained during the recording, things got even more estranged when Brown decided to leave the tour bus he was sharing with the Abbott brothers to share a tour bus with Anselmo. Brown described it as a way to feel comfortable, because Dimebag would be up early and start cranking the guitar, which upset Brown who wanted to sleep.

During the tour, Anselmo overdosed on heroin and was legally dead for four to five minutes. According to Anselmo, he started using heroin for relief of his chronic back pain. Mick Mars has a degenerative spine issue and never turned to heroin, but then again, he did turn to alcohol and lots of it.

For the record, I hate the hardcore death metal vocals that Anselmo resorted to. His clean tone voice is one of the best. He could move between James Hetfield and Tom Araya style vocals to Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson siren wails. It’s why I became a fan of the “Cowboys From Hell” album.

And I don’t know the exact specifics of what happened with Anselmo and the white power salute he gave at a gig he did about 5/6 years ago. Robb Flynn from Machine Head called him out on it. Which led to a lot of issues for Robb Flynn, receiving death threats and venue owners who supported Anselmo refused to book Machine Head.

One more album would come from Pantera and that would be the end. The air is thin at the top of the mountain, which means that you are not meant to hang around at the summit for long. Anselmo would put the band on hold because he wanted to deal with the back pain and then went on to record and tour with his side projects with the band officially finished in 2003.

Dimebag recently had a 17th Anniversary from when he was tragically shot dead at a gig on Dec 8, 2004. And it’s been three and bit years since Vinnie Paul died from heart disease.

While Anselmo wanted to reconnect, Vinnie Paul didn’t. And that’s how it ended.

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2001 – Part 4.7: Ill Nino – Revolution/Revolución

The late 90’s and early 2000’s was a time of pushing the limits of heavy metal music. From when I first came across metal albums in the 80’s, the genre had evolved so much that the bands classed as metal back then became totally unrecognisable to the new breed of bands doing the rounds.

Bands like Tool, Dream Theater, NIN, Ministry, Faith No More, Limp Bizkit, Fear Factory, Korn, Creed, Disturbed, Slipknot, Mudvayne, Machine Head and Pantera pushed the genre forward during this period. Each act bringing into their sound something that wasn’t there before. Suddenly Metallica sounded like a pop band compared to these bands.

And then I came across Ill Nino. A fusion of Latin Flamenco rhythms and percussion with metal riffs and singing which moved between aggressive screaming and melodic singing.

On September 18, 2001, Ill Niño released their debut album, “Revolution Revolución”.

The album was a commercial success for Roadrunner Records, moving over 350,000 albums worldwide in the first two years after release.

The Personnel for the album is Cristian Machado on Vocals and Samples, Jardel Martins Paisante and Marc Rizzo on Guitar, Lazaro Pina on Bass, Dave Chavarri on Drums and Samples and Roger Vasquez on Percussion.

And seeing a person called DJ Skratch on Turntables as an additional musician will either scare people off or make them curious.

God Save Us

It’s like Groove Nu-Metal. Vocally its aggressive in the verses, with a melodic Chorus.

Check out the flamenco like interlude at 2.30.

If You Still Hate Me

It’s like Industrial Nu-Metal at the start.

But at the 2 minute mark a flamenco metal section appears and then a head banging circle pit riff afterwards. The movement between styles is why this album got my attention.

Unreal

Distorted guitars and Latin percussion working to create something unique.

Nothing’s Clear

Screaming verses and a melodic Chorus. The duality of modern American metal at the start of the new century.

And chuck in a Bridge delivered in Spanish.

What Comes Around

The most catchiest song on the album. A Nu-Metal riff kicks it off, and then an atmospheric Korn like guitar riff in the verses, while the melodic singing carries the vocal melody.

Liar

The flamenco and percussion in the intro gives way to a Disturbed meets Limp Bizkit riff.

Rumba

The Latin percussion and distorted guitars is a delightful mash up. Vocally, the screaming loses me and the melodic singing re-captures my interest.

Predisposed

I like the Intro riff on this. Its head banging groove metal.

I Am Loco

Who isn’t loco these days?

No Murder

Press play to hear one guitar play a riff on the higher registers while another plays chords.

Rip Out Your Eyes

So much violence.

Revolution/Revolución

The intro riff is head banging heavy.

With You

It’s a flamenco acoustic rock cut. Santana is not the only musician that plays this style, but he is one of the biggest crossover artists, and because of that, this song reminds me of Santana.

The next album “Confession” is a lot more melodic and my favourite but if you want to start with something, then start with this.

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The Record Vault: Disturbed – The Lost Children

“The Lost Children” was released on November 8, 2011.

By the time this album hit the streets, Disturbed was on hiatus for an indefinite period of time. The band had been on a five album cycle of release and tour. 12 years in total without really having a proper break.

The music industry was also going through another transition. The U.S labels weren’t approving Spotify to operate until they got a percentage stake in the company, so P2P piracy was at an all time high and while the labels procrastinated, YouTube became a dominate streaming service which paid even less.

In the break, Draiman would produce a few bands, with Trivium being the biggest, form a new project called Device, which released an album that sounded like “The Sickness” while Donegan and Wengren hooked up with the “Evans Blue” singer Dan Chandler to form “Fight Or Flight” and release the excellent hard modern rock album “A Life By Design”.

Meanwhile bassist John Moyer would hook up with Adrenaline Mob for the “Coverta” and “Men Of Honour” releases, Art of Anarchy for their 2015 and 2017 releases, Geoff Tate’s Operation Mindcrime project and its 2015 release.

Because of these projects, Moyer wasn’t available to play on “Immortalized”, released in 2015, but returned to the band to tour and then played on “Evolution” released in 2018.

“The Children” in the album title is another term for “The Songs”. And “The Lost Children” is all of Disturbed’s non-album tracks up to 2011.

“Hell”

It’s from the “Ten Thousand Fists” album.

I feel like the riff got tweaked and used to better effect for “Indestructible”. But it doesn’t mean that this song is inferior.

Lyrically it’s about s person in a relationship who keeps coming in and out of the persons life, and every time they come back in, they mess up their world a little bit more.

“A Welcome Burden”

From “The Sickness” album cycle and the song appeared on the “Dracula 2000” soundtrack.

Its flow is like the debut album and it’s groovy Nu-Metal riffs.

“This Moment”

It was written for the “Transformers” album, but never used.

And man, what a riff to start it off.

“Old Friend”

From the “Asylum” album cycle and a song which appeared in Dexter.

The Intro riff hooks me in. It’s head banging and almost progressive by it’s notes phrasing.

The Chorus as usual is huge.

“Monster”

From the “Ten Thousand Fists” album cycle and a riff similar to “Stricken” starts the song off.

I like the single note runs in the Verse riff.

And an excellent guitar lead is also present.

“Run”

From the “Indestructible” album cycle.

A fast double time Intro gives way to a groove verse. Actually the drumming from Mike Wengren is a stand out on this.

“Leave It Alone”

From the “Asylum” album batch of songs. The song has excellent riffs throughout.

In the Verses, there is a natural harmonic lick that comes in on certain bars.

The Chorus riff gets the head banging with its military like groove.

For the solo, it goes to half time and how good is that bluesy solo lick to come out of the lead section.

“Two Worlds”

A song from the “Ten Thousand Fists” album cycle.

Can melodic rock, Sabbath and Nu-Metal be a thing?

On this song they exist in harmony.

And I always enjoy a Donegan solo, but this time it’s the riff after the solo which gets me to pick up the guitar.

“God of the Mind”

A B-side from “The Sickness” and it also appeared in the “Valentine” movie. It’s a derivative version of the songs that appeared on the debut.

The verses do remind me of Tool but I feel like the song has more NIN and early Filter influences.

“Sickened”

A B-side from “Ten Thousand Fists” and a massive head banging Intro kicks it off.

For the verses, a tom-tom drum pattern provides the focus while the guitar belts out chords.

And as usual, the Chorus is melodic and big.

“Mine”

A B-side from “Asylum” and the song is about religion as a catalyst for war.

The first part with the spoken samples of leaders and newscasters with Draiman chanting “hey“ is excellent.

After that I feel like the song becomes a thrash groove song. Wengren on the drums is the star here.

“Parasite”

A B-side from “Indestructible” but with a riff that brings back memories of “Fighting For The Earth” from Warrior.

“Dehumanized”

A B-side from “Believe” that they played live regularly with a big Chorus.

“3”

A B-side from “Asylum”, originally released as a digital single to benefit the “West Memphis Three”.

The lead break is shred-a-licious.

In case you weren’t aware, the West Memphis Three are three Metal heads convicted as teenagers in 1994 of the 1993 murders of three boys. During the trial, the prosecution asserted that the juveniles killed the children as part of a Satanic ritual.

Due to the dubious nature of the evidence, the case generated widespread controversy and was the subject of several documentaries. Celebrities and musicians held fundraisers to support efforts to free the men. Metallica, Pearl Jam and Disturbed come to mind.

And after serving 18 years they were freed and the real killers still walk the streets.

“Midlife Crisis”

A Faith No More cover and a B-side from “Indestructible”. And each Disturbed cover is a great rendition. This song could pass as a Disturbed original.

“Living After Midnight”

A Judas Priest cover which starts off with the “Painkiller” drum Intro and a B-side from “Asylum”.

By the end of it, the album didn’t feel like a put together cash in. It actually felt like a new Disturbed album as the sequencing of the songs didn’t follow the chronological release of the songs.

Sink your ears into “The Lost Children”.

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1996 – Part 2.6: Corrosion Of Conformity – Wiseblood

“Wiseblood” came out in 1996. The band for the album was Pepper Keenan on lead vocals/rhythm guitar, Woody Weatherman on lead guitar, Mike Dean on bass guitar and Reed Mullin on drums.

It kicks off with the excellent titled “King Of The Rotten”.

The riffs are down-tuned, groovy and bluesy. The vocals on this one are very James Hetfield influenced with a Layne Staley/Jerry Cantrell style Chorus.

“Long Whip / Big America” reminds of ZZ Top “La Grange” era. It’s got that spirit.

Saw the news today, some D.C. suit trying to break away,
said he lost another million
just another old man trying to pass the buck with a dirty hand
good thing he knows his bible

Man, does anything change when it comes to politics, corruption and money. The same shit happening in 1996 happened before and after.

And when it all goes to hell, they turn to God. How many criminals have said “I’m sorry your honor for stealing millions, but I have found God and I’m a good Christian now.”

“Wiseblood” and “Goodbye Windows” bring the Southern Rock vibe. It also sounds like Zakk Wylde was listening because I feel that Black Label Society took this sound.

I’ve seen them devils pound our bible
You saints and sinners are both my rival

Can a person live a life without the influence of religion and pressure from society to conform?

How good is that harmony solo section in “Goodbye Windows” from the 3.46 minute mark, with the vocals over it?

Past regrets and future fears
Turns a boy to a man sooner than planned
All the same, the boy remains
Even though he’s free, he can’t fly with these heavy chains

There is a lot of self-assessment happening on this album.

What does it mean to be free in democracy?

Its basic meaning is “not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes”.

Do you live a life that meets the criteria in the definition?

And the bluesy Sabbath like tunes continue, along with the excellent song titles, like “Born Again For The Last Time”, “Drowning In A Daydream” and “The Snake Has No Head”.

When the bones that you own have long been dusted
You realize who you’re not supposed to be

The above lyric is from “Born Again For The Last Time”. Its only when we get older, we realise how much time we wasted being someone else.

But the body fills with greed and we spill when in need
And all the slaves are on probation growing fat in a comfortable nation

The above lyric of from “The Snake Has No Head”. They are referencing the same snake that’s on the cover of the Metallica self-titled “Black” album.

“The Door” and “Man Or Ash” are cuts that would not be out of place on a Metallica “Load” or “Reload” album. And if the vocalist sounds familiar on “Man Or Ash”, it should, it’s none other than James Hetfield.

Then there is the excellent titled “Redemption City”.

Simple words remind me
Cluttered room haunts me

It’s never easy being alone, with your thoughts and your vices.

“Fuel” is a thrash-a-thon and I had to keep telling my friends at the time that it’s not a cover of the other “Fuel” that appeared on “Reload” even though this one came out before.

And after “Wiseblood”, the band got dropped from Columbia Records because it didn’t meet the commercial expectations. And it was strange to read that, because the band was still at a creative high.

Lucky for them, Sanctuary Records picked em up otherwise they couldn’t participate in the recording business unless they went the “self-release” route, which no artist did in 1996.

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The Record Vault: Chimaira – The Dehumanizing Process

“And the minute you get a record deal, all the fun is stripped away. You start analyzing music in a different way. You don’t listen to it for the enjoyment of listening to it, you don’t play it for the enjoyment of playing it”.

“They (the record label reps) will call you up and say, “hey did you hear this new record, maybe you should write a song like it.”

That’s the way “The Dehumanizing Process” documentary starts off.

I was in a band between 1999 and 2005. The singer/guitarist of that band was into the whole Groove metal scene and he burned me the “The Impossibility Of Reason” album which is covered here in the documentary.

And it’s the only thing I own from Chimaira.

The DVD package has the excellent 90 minute documentary, a live concert, the band’s music videos (up to 2004) and a nine track CD, called “This Present Darkness” which is the bands 1999 independent album.

The band went on to sign with Roadrunner Records and released the “Pass out of Existence” album in 2001. It sold okay and they got another chance from Roadrunner Records to do another album.

All the band members were really unhappy with their last album “Pass Out Of Existence” as it was a Nu-Metal album they were pressured to make.

“The Impossibility of Reason” came out in 2003 and you get to see the ending of one journey and the start of a new one in the 90 minutes documentary. Even if you don’t like the band the documentary is worth watching and it’s detailed.

By sticking to their guns and telling the label to get stuffed, Chimaira delivered a career defining album.

The live show is from the tour, filmed in Holland. Watch it, just for the “Wall Of Death”.

The band would do one more Roadrunner album in 2005. Then they got dropped. Signing to different labels, they kept releasing albums up to 2013. And the line up was always evolving with vocalist Mark Hunter the only original member left at the time.

But in 2017, the original band members returned for a few reunion shows and at the moment they are looking at doing a few more.

In between, vocalist Mark Hunter became a journalist for various metal mags and his social media accounts are very active with his views on the music industry and other opinions.

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The Signature Voice Manifesto

SIGNATURE VOICE

Zoltan Bathory said  “Every vocalist has a signature” when he was asked what it was like to work with Rob Halford on Lift Me Up.  For some reason that statement just stuck in my head and it got me thinking. I came to the conclusion that the so-called “SIGNATURE” is the difference between bands that stand out above the noise of the internet and the bands that don’t. The signature statement isn’t just relevant to vocalists either. All the band members need to have a signature sound.

Why did Korn rise above all the other bands from their scene in 1993 to get a record deal? They had the signature vocalist in Jonathan Davis. Love him or hate him, one thing is undeniable, he is original. Munky and Head delivered a signature guitar sound, based on down tuned seven string grooves and effects. The bass and the drums delivered their own signature groove’s fusing, hip hop, R&B, funk and metal.

Why did Pantera rise to a metal god status? Dimebag and Vinnie are in their element. They are locked in so tight, it became the Pantera signature groove.  Suddenly all the other bands out there started to have the drums and the guitar lock in like Pantera. The other element is Phil Anselmo. As a Dimebag fan, I still blame Anselmo for Dimebag’s death. If Pantera remained together, Dimebag wouldn’t be playing a venue with crap security. However, one thing is also undeniable in this. When Phil changed his vocal style from Rob Halford metal god, to a combination of Rob Halford metal god meets hard-core god,  another signature sound was born. Suddenly, a host of bands sprang forth.

Why did Machine Head have a rebirth in 2003 and since then they have continued to go from strength to strength? Machine Head came out at a time (1994) when Groove Metal had already done its victory lap (as the labels had already over saturated the market with crap bands). Burn My Eyes, stood out because it still contained that Eighties thrash metal vibe, merged with groove metal, so they went on a two year victory lap for it.

By the time, The More Things Change came out in 1997, the musical scene changed again as it was starting to move to a more Industrial metal sound. The More Things Change is a continuation of what they did with Burn My Eyes, however the climate was different, so the album suffered in promotion from the label, who was chasing the big dollars by signing industrial bands.

By the time The Burning Red came out in 1999, the scene changed again as it was moving to Nu Metal. Then Supercharger comes out in 2001 and it comes out at the time when Nu Metal is finishing its victory lap and Metalcore is on the rise. The Trade Towers fall, their clips get pulled from music shows, because they have falling buildings and their label drops them.

They are on their own, left to their own vices and their own influences. So what do they do? They start writing, free from the pressures and influence of the label machine. In doing so, they created the Machine Head signature sound (that merges their thrash roots, with their hard rock roots, with their power metal influences, with their groove metal influences, with their nu-metal influences ) and Robb Flynn creates his signature vocal style that a thousand other bands try to imitate. He is older, he is angrier and he is more melodic. If you want to have Robb Flynn’s vocal style, you need to have lived his lifestyle. You can’t have the same impact, if you come from Orange County and had parents rolling in the green.

Why did Disturbed rise above all the other bands that came out in 1999? The music is nothing original, and you can say it is a clone of the nu metal movement. What set Disturbed apart is the unique signature vocal sound of David Draiman. He is that unique and special, no one is even bothering to clone him or copy him. There is a band from Sweden called, Days Of Jupiter that comes very close to filling the void that Disturbed has left behind when they went on their self-imposed hiatus.

Why did Metallica become the premier thrash band, and not Slayer, Anthrax or Exodus or Megadeth? In my opinion I believe that Slayer and Megadeth are up there as well, however if you look all over the internet, it is Metallica that has the pull and the numbers. Two reasons – James Hetfield and the Compositions. James delivered that signature bark and it wasn’t just a bark like all the other bands and the NWOBM bands, it had a melodic sense to it. Second, it was the compositions. As much as people like the fast 4 minute songs, it is the longer compositions that set Metallica streets ahead of the others. Then when all the other thrash bands started to go into the longer form, Metallica changed the rules again with the Black album.

So if you want to be an artist, you need to have a signature sound and to get that signature sound, you need to mine your life experiences and influences.

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