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Pantera Far Beyond Driven:The Album That Represents the Decline of a Once Great Band
The original front cover of Far Beyond Driven
Far Beyond Driven is a heavy album that just is not good enough overall and one of the lowest points of the band's career
Texas groovy thrash metal band Pantera got their career reinvented and off in a great direction with the release of Cowboys from Hell in 1990. I wrote a while back about Far Beyond Driven and what it felt like to listen to it 20 years after its release. I have since decided to review this album again because I want to show how Pantera started to decline as a band after 1992’s Vulgar Display of Power album. Pantera got even more heavy and aggressive with 1994’s Far Beyond Driven. Vocalist Phil Anselmo developed a very harsh, rough shouting style kind of voice. Change is a good thing if it is done properly. However, this album is an album that I would describe as one that it is good in some ways and not so good in others. Pantera probably wanted to express their frustration with how the country and the world was changing but they could not channel this emotion in a way to create an album that was memorable. Instead they have created an album that should be forgotten.
Strength Beyond Strength is one of the few strong songs on this album
The opening song Strength Beyond Strength is one of the good songs. This one is about the breakdown of the American Dream. Just because someone goes to college and works hard does not mean that this strategy is a path to being part of a successful middle class person. The band brought up this subject in 1994, well before the financial crisis in 2008. It makes you wonder if the band knew that we would be dealing with very hard times years later. Becoming is a song that has a guitar sound mixed with the amplifier to create a sort of feedback kind of sound. Another major weakness of this album is the sub-par lead guitar work of Dimebag Darrell. I don’t really hear the same feeling and passion that he had back in 1990. I really don’t think too highly of the songs 5 Minutes Alone. I’m Broken is a song that is just okay.
The Weakest Point of the Album: Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills
Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills is a song filled with bass guitar and lots of feedback. This has to be one of the lowest points in the career of Pantera. The song just has Phil Anselmo talking and it has no real hooks to keep you interested. This is a terrible job at music for a band that became popular only to eventually break up in 2003. For those people that have been critical of Metallica because of St. Anger, no song on that album as bad as this one is. The songs in St. Anger do not have guitar solos but at least they have a structure to them. Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills is just a bunch of talking and noise that makes no sense and should not belong in any album.
Far Beyond Driven: the second half of the album is better but not good enough to save the album from being poor
The second half of the album is better but it is not enough to save the album from being mediocre. Slaughtered is a really heavy song that I really used to like but now I realize that once again, the band tries too hard to be heavy with those groovy style vocals. I have heard far better aggressive vocals that are a better fit for a band compared to this. 25 Years is another song that is pretty much mediocre throughout. The last 1.5 minutes of the song is better but it is not enough to save the song from being sub-par. Shedding Skin represents a return to what made Pantera so good. This one has good guitar work and vocals by Anselmo that actually fit in with the song. Use My Third Arm is so heavy that it may scare some heavy metal fans. At the end of the album is a cover of Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan song. I really don’t think it should have been in there as it does not really help the quality of the album.
The official music video for the song I'm Broken
Final thoughts about the album Far Beyond Driven
Far Beyond Driven represents a very low point for Pantera. The band’s songwriting quality would decline even further until their breakup. For a band that achieved commercial success and could have been one of the best US thrash bands ever, they decided to get heavy and this heaviness really didn’t work out for them. There are really only about four songs that could be considered good on the album. The rest range from just okay to really poor. Far Beyond Driven gets a score of 58 out of 100 points. If you want to hear better thrash metal albums, check out any of the early Metallica albums. I have heard FAR better albums than what we hear on Far Beyond Driven. Dimebag Darrell really under utilizes his talent on this album and that is a shame because Pantera had musical talent which they did not really take advantage of after 1992. They should have stuck to what they did on Cowboys from Hell instead of trying to get heavy and sound like hardcore thrash metal. Pantera is no St. Hood and they should not have tried to sound so heavy. Phil Anselmo’s falsetto style vocals are far better than this. So these are many of the reasons why Pantera declined as a band after 1992.