Pantera‘s Vulgar Display of Power was the band’s first album since the brilliant Cowboys from Hell (1990), and is every way just as good. The album is exactly as the title suggests – absolutely brutal. You would never guess by listening to this album that Pantera used to be a glam metal group in the ‘80s. In fact, it is sometimes said that glam died because of what Pantera started doing in the ‘90s, and the influence they had on metal because of it.
Vulgar Display of Power is one of the most influential metal albums of all time, and is definitive of early ‘90s metal. The album took the genre into a new era of a more aggressive sound and expanded upon the ‘groove’ style that they had created with Cowboys From Hell. While many similarities can be drawn to thrash metal, Pantera‘s innovative style broke the mould with Vinnie Paul’s revolutionary drumming and Dimebag Darrel’s intense guitar solos. Where Cowboys was artistic and ground breaking, Vulgar Display pushed the boundaries, making accessible metal faster and heavier than ever before whilst retaining an artistic flourish. Phil Anselmo’s lyrics promote power through strength and integrity, all but entirely abandoning singing in favour of an aggressive roar that packs a mighty punch.
Overall the album is fast and aggressive, where every track is a classic. ‘Fucking Hostile’ is perhaps the most brutal track of all time, with vocals that incite anger and boil the blood in your veins. ‘Walk’ is riff-focused with an innovative guitar solo that demonstrates why Dimebag is one of the most influential guitarists of all time. ‘Mouth of War’ and ‘Regular People (Conceit)’ are representative of Pantera‘s sound, exhibiting their use of aggression and groove. Even the ‘ballad’, ‘This Love’, is absolutely vicious, with slower verses and a thumping chorus. The first half of album closer, ‘Hollow’, shows similarities to ‘Cemetery Gates’ from Cowboys, but after that the track explodes and shows the remarkable musicianship possessed by the band.
Pantera went on to record three more studio albums after Vulgar Display, dominating ‘90s metal, never selling out to the latest trends that came and went over the years. The influence of this album in particular was far reaching, inspiring bands in every genre of heavy metal, and can be seen in many of today’s biggest metal bands, such as Machine Head, DevilDriver, Lamb of God, Avenged Sevenfold, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and countless others.