Review of the Album "Reinventing the Steel" By Texas Thrash Metal Band Pantera
Did Pantera Really Reinvent Themselves?
Texas groove thrash band Pantera really took a dive down to its lowest level with the terrible album called The Great Southern Trendkill (at least that's what I thought at the time that this review was written). In 2000, they released the album called Reinventing the Steel what was to be this band’s final studio album. The question that I kept on asking myself was “let’s see how bad this album’s going to be.” I did not have high expectations for this one but how good is this album?
The Album Has a Decent Start to It
Immediately with the first song called Hellbound, the riffs are heavy, angry, and the song actually has a useful message in it. The song’s message is to so what you can to get rid of the so-called “life decline.” Once we overcome our fears we will know that we have won a victory.
Pantera Got Even Heavier
Pantera didn’t really reinvent themselves with this album. What they did do is make themselves less worse musically. The band is trying to inform and educate the world about not wasting the time that we do have and to embrace this time instead. By doing this, we will get to know ourselves on a deeper level. The first three songs on this album are respectable but then, the band falls into the routine of including this messy feedback kind of sound on the song You’ve Got to Belong to It. Then it is followed by an average riff and Phil Anselmo’s angry vocals. But we also have to give credit where it is due. This means that I will say that Phil Anselmo does a fine job on the vocals in the song "Hellbound." There is also a decent solo in the song called God**** Electric. Pantera must have had a lot of rage in them and maybe that's why they came up with song titles such as this. Whatever their motivations for such songs, they ended their career in sub-par fashion.
Reinventing The Steel: Songs Revolution is My Name and Death Rattle
The same muffled, guitar sound continues into the song called Revolution Is My Name. The song is about someone that was born in 1968 and was growing up during the 1970’s but he was confused and had an identity crisis. He knows that the time to change is now and if things stay the same, he won’t be able to grow. Once again, the band does too much to sound creative and it fails for them. The song Death Rattle suffers from the same musical problem the previous song does. It is heavy but with no real substance, creativity, or brilliance that we heard back in 1992 with this band.
With the song called We’ll Grind That Axe for a Long Time, there actually is some decent groove in it. Phil starts to sound like Henrik Klingenberg with that rough and hoarse vocal style that we would hear in 2005. The song It Makes Them Disappear is a messy sounding slower groove song about trying to get revenge on people that we feel have wronged us in some way. The style is similar to the band Mental Care Foundation however the guitar is messier. I also hear a sort of later Judas Priest influenced style songwriting. A few examples of this kind of influence are in the albums Jugulator and Demolition. The blues solo by guitarist Dimebag Darrell however is just average thus taking the score of this song down a little bit. Even with this album, Pantera does not do a good enough job to take this album out of the mediocre category. The strongest songs in the album are Hellbound, Goddamn Electric, and Yesterday Don’t Mean **** which was the first song that I heard from this album. In the second song, the lyrical theme is about a young teenager that leads a rebellious life as he turns to drugs, alcohol, and sometimes money. Some people will do anything just to try and earn a little bit of money.
Reinventing the Steel Can be Thought of As an Okay Experimental Album
If Pantera’s goal was to go out (finish up their career) in a blaze of glory, they did not exactly do that. Pantera was once of the elite American metal bands that became a shadow of its former self. At least that’s the way I thought they finished the album “The Great Southern Trendkill” which was just four years prior to this album. Pantera gave Texas one of its best cultural things in entertainment with a good groovy form of thrash metal but they just got more aggressive and sometimes slower.
Note: much has changed since this review was first written. In my recent analysis The Great Southern Trendkill is an average album so how is Reinventing the Steel? One thing I will say is that the start of this album has Anselmo using his most aggressive screams ever. I guess that Pantera wanted to show the world that they still had that heavy, aggressive sound that they wanted to use. This album would end up being the only studio album released by Pantera in the 21st century as they would disband in 2003. Pantera could have been the greatest heavy metal band in Texas history but they flopped with Far Beyond Driven and even though they rebounded 2 years after that, it was not enough for them to be the greatest metal band in Texas. I really enjoy the music of Helstar. In March 2020, it will be 20 years since the release of Reinventing the Steel and Pantera tried to reinvent themselves but I’m not sure if they wrote and performed a style of heavy metal that wasn’t done before. But what do other people say about Reinventing the Steel? One user on the website Metal Archives comments about the vocals of Phil Anselmo, how he tries to picture himself as being this tough guy but that he pushes the boundaries. I also think that by this point, Anselmo may be trying too hard to be this kind of tough guy that can’t be messed with. The other noticeable quality about this album is the lack of originality in the songs as the entire album consists of rage filled groovy thrash. Reinventing the Steel is better than Far Beyond Driven but not as good as Vulgar Display of Power.
© 2017 Ara Vahanian