Earlier this week I reviewed Out of the Silent Planet by King’s X. What interests me, from some wikipedia-ing and general info ferreting, is that this album is known as an emergence point for Groove Metal, which is basically Thrash with a less manic pace. This is Pantera and, as limited as my metal knowledge is (though I’m not a complete stranger), we’re going to dive into the rabbit hole.
Vulgar Display of Power is the album with the tracks that metal fans are all familiar with, one can argue a moniker of magnum opus here, but I’m not informed enough about this to make the statement definite. What I can say definitely is about the sound. Let’s ignore the vocals here and focus on the guitars, they are bass-y, brutal, and aggressive, a sign of the drop D tuning (to generalise).
Walk is considered by many to be this album’s feature track and it’s easy to see why. As is often the case, a track works because of it’s simple but expertly executed sound. That simple guitar riff is infectious and you need very little other than the vocals over the top. The solo in the middle of the track is incredibly poignant, crystal clear and I am going to say iconic. Oh, and there is a bit of melody to the vocal line but it’s mostly a spoken/shouting sound.
Can’t you see I’m easily bothered by persistence
One step from lashing out at you
You want in to get under my skin
And call yourself a friend
I’ve got more friends like you
What do I do?
Here are the lyrics, they are about as openly hostile as you can get and this is the thing with this whole album. This isn’t about myths, monsters or anything you might typically picture to do with metal albums, it’s purely anger and hostility. This is an album about people’s dislike of people. Maybe I misinterpreted?
This Love has a really solid sound with a simple repeating riff in it’s more aggressive moments and a rather simple rhythm guitar part being, not sweetly, but sinisterly melodic while the lead guitar cries over the top. Nice.
Another track that, well I can’t help but to have been caught by was A New Level, it’s that guitar intro. That riff that keeps popping up throughout the song, it’s just so fixating. I think it’s due to the fact that although the riff is in a simple 4/4 time signature, it’s very asymmetric, splitting the rising scales into 3 and 5 divisions rather than a simple 4 and 4 split.
I feel more than I ever I am having to pick out tracks and highlight things I liked about them but that I have to do so on a track by track basis and I don’t know why… The album is very obviously a staple in the history of metal and Pantera are obviously a pretty definitive band too. Musically I think it’s really quite good but, whether due to the lyrics, the sound or something else, I didn’t really warm totally to the album, though neither did I run a mile from it.
For me, further listening required, I am both daunted and intrigued… Maybe that’s the point!
Is this album for you?
If you’re a metal fan, you have an opinion already. You love it, you hate it, you respect it… I don’t know but you will!
For those who are alien to metal in entirety… not the most welcoming album you can be given but certainly musically clever enough to deserve plenty of credit.
- Writing: 8/10
- Performance: 8.5/10
- Style: 8/10
P.S. I think I may write more on this at some point… Don’t hold me to it…