Review: "The Great Southern Trendkill" (1996) by Pantera
Reason #1 for the album being so bad is because of forced vocals that are too harsh
Pantera the heavy metal band from Arlington, Texas that impressed music fans with Phil Anselmo’s impressive falsetto style vocals, good lead guitars, and terrific metal songs such as Heresy, Clash With Reality, Medicine Man and several others really hit rock bottom in 1996. They got so poor musically that they released The Great Southern Trendkill which was the worst groove metal album in the history of heavy metal. That is until I heard the album Illusions by Antioch, California thrash metal band Sadus. That’s quite a statement but yes, what you hear on this album is heavy, groove filled metal that has vocals which are forced. This brings us to the next reason why The Great Southern Trendkill is such a horrible groove metal album. This next reason is the vocals of Phil Anselmo which sound like a man who is not singing with inspiration or passion. It is almost like Phil never really cared about performing great vocals anymore. Even listening to this album in 2018 is really hard to do. The vocals just drag on and on like a man that has totally lost his vocal talents. Phil Anselmo is just a shadow of his former self in this album and you are about to see why this is the case. Or is this album better than what it felt like listening to it in 2017?
Why does Phil Anselmo fail with his vocals on the album?
Phil Anselmo is too good of a vocalist to force his vocals out of his vocal chords. From the first song which is the title track, he sings or rather does fast, harsh shouts which fail miserably. He tries to do a harsh vocal sound similar to Henrik Klingenberg but he once again fails. Pantera’s decline as a groovy thrash metal band is complete with this album. The next song War Nerve does not get much better. The song is a sort of tirade against the so-called injustices of the world.
The Great Southern Trendkill 20th Anniversary Edition Album Cover
The Great Southern Trendkill is worse than Megadeth's Risk album
If you thought Megadeth’s Risk album was bad, The Great Southern Trendkill is even worse. There’s nothing great about this album so the album title is misleading. Pantera should be classified as a very poor Southern groove metal band that lost its greatness in 1992. 1992 was the last year that the band was actually good enough to still be a good metal band. They got heavier and added more groove elements into their music and that strategy backfired in a big way.
Band Personnel for "The Great Southern Trendkill"
Phil Anselmo: all vocals including the rough growls
Dimebag Darrell Abbott: guitars (R.I.P. 2004)
Rex Brown: bass guitars
Vinnie Paul: drums (R.I.P. 2018)
The very poorly structured songs are the biggest reason for the failure of Pantera as a band
Drag the Waters has a cowbell sound in it. The song is about someone getting a reduced sentence in spite of the crimes that he committed. The vocals are rough, raspy, and nothing special at all. However, Drag the Waters may be one of the few good songs in this album. Just because it is a better album than Illusions by Sadus does not mean it is a great album. What happened to Phil Anselmo, the vocalist that could excite audiences with powerful vocals that matched the songs back in 1990? He got worse and I don’t think he can be considered one of the best heavy metal vocalists anymore. Pantera declined in the early to mid-1990’s and never recovered. Megadeth at least redeemed themselves after their low points as a band. Even though there is a brief section in the song 10's with the lead guitar work that is decent, most of the song is pretty bad. It just gets worse lyrically with the song called 13 Steps to Nowhere as the lyrics make no sense. It does not help that the album’s lyrical themes are about the worst social problems in society. What was wrong with a band that reached its peak in 1990 only to decline within about 4 years? Pantera’s decline as a band was not gradual but a sharp decline. The song called Living Through Me (Hell’s Wrath) is a bad attempt by Pantera trying to sound like industrial metal band Prong. Sorry guys, you’ll never be able to match the heavy, good riffs of the song Cut Throat. The song Floods has a guitar section that tries to sound like 1992’s This Love or Hollow but again that experimentation fails. I wonder which metal fan would have even bought The Great Southern Trendkill. I would even doubt that the most loyal Pantera fans could have appreciated this album.
Drag The Waters
Pantera albums from best to worst
Cowboys from Hell
Vulgar Display of Power
Far Beyond Driven
The Great Southern Trendkill
Final Thoughts About The Great Southern Trendkill
This album is a sort of mixed bag in a sense because Pantera changed so much as a band over the years. I originally gave "The Great Southern Trendkill" a 10 out of 100 points. But upon further analysis, listening, and review, I am tempted to say that it may get a 30 out of 100 points but it is still not good enough to save it from being one of the worst albums in the history of groove metal. The "good" points of The Great Southern Trendkill are Drag the Waters and 10's.
© 2017 Ara Vahanian