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Review: "The Great Southern Trendkill" by Texas Thrash Metal Band Pantera

Updated on May 6, 2022
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Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The Great Southern Trendkill Is it Good or a Poor Musical Album?

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 at first analysis. That’s quite a statement but yes, what you hear on this album is heavy, groove filled metal that has vocals which are forced. Or is it really the worst groove metal album as of 2019? This may not be the case so buckle up and let’s get started on reviewing an album which I’ve always thought to be a very poor effort musically.

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)

Analysis of the Title Track and "War Nerve"

The title track has a blues style part in it which would influence bands such as Mental Care Foundation. “War Nerve” has a good guitar tone. The Great Southern Trendkill is one of those really heavy albums that someone may love or hate and it was really hard for me to get into for a long time.

Analysis of the Songs Drag the Waters and 13 Steps to Nowhere

"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. 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. 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? At least that’s what I thought at the first writing of this review which goes back at least a few years.

Phil Anselmo Should Have Used the Falsetto Style Vocals of 1990

One thing that could have made "Drag the Waters" a better song is if Phil didn’t try to do so much of these harsh screams. Even in 2019, I still feel that Phil could have been better if he just used the falsetto style vocals of 1990. That was his vocal peak and for whatever reason, he never bothered to go back to what was clearly working for him.


Analysis of the Songs Living Through Me (Hell's Wrath) and Floods

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 Rate. 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"

Is The Great Southern Trendkill Better Than Previously Thought?

Note: whatever I may have felt about this album in 2016 and 2017, in 2019, I see that even at their weakest point, Pantera was still decent enough that they were better than Mexico’s Hellrot and this is an interesting discovery.

The Great Southern Trendkill is an album whose foundation is built mostly on the sludge metal and groovy thrash except it feels heavier than Cowboys from Hell. There is a section in the song “10’s” that slows down and gets softer before a good solo kicks in and this is something that Pantera could have done with this album to create a better musical contrast.

The end of the song “War Nerve” is a pretty darn good riff too. Listening to this album near the end of 2021, I am pretty convinced that this was Pantera’s most anger filled release. At a time when some bands were heading in a more mainstream direction, Pantera did the reverse, heading in a groove filled direction with an album that has a lot of heavy songs in it.

Best songs in The Great Southern Trendkill as of 2019

  • Drag the Waters
  • 10's
  • Floods

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2017 Ara Vahanian


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