I ended up listening to Pantera’s Vulgar Diplay of Power album on my own time today and had all my relistening epiphanies then, so rather than wait until its time in the correct sequence (postion 19) I’m going to write about it now instead of Judas Priest’s Painkiller, which I really can’t comment on since I’ve barely just bought it and can’t really re-listen to it.
First of all, Pantera are a pretty difficult band to listen to objectively either because of how held in reverence they are anyway, how hugely in reverence they became after Damageplan started and made everyone realise how much they missed Pantera and then how hugely in reverence they became after Dimebag’s death and everyone started getting Dime memorial tattoos and acting weird about it.
I feel both lucky and weird having gotten into the band before Dime’s death but late enough not to be one of those ‘I liked them before you,’ types. It does however annoy me a little how much baggage is now attached to the band and no one seems to listen to them or talk about them in a way that isn’t completely coloured by circumstances that have nothing to do with how the band actually sound or how good the music is, but then, that is only how I perceive the situation to be and everyone may feel exactly the same as me.
The four famous songs ‘Mouth For War,’ ‘A New Level,’ ‘Walk,’ and ‘Fucking Hostile,’ are just terrific. Even if they are perpetually covered, even if they are outplayed on metal radio and TV and even if they get talked about in every magazine ever, they are just unstoppable, one listen and all the love comes racing back.
Even better again than the metal numbers are the half ballads, the songs with clean vocals and ‘…And Justice For All,’ sounding guitar parts. ‘This Love,’ has such a huge chorus, it is just so special. The really simple start stop riff and the rhythmic shouting is so dynamic, its really just a brilliant moment of music.
‘Hollow,’ is probably the best song the band have ever written, a weird comment to make since most songs on the album feel like that; ‘Hollow,’ however is something special, it really transcends the ‘best song ever,’ hyperbole and is in fact, actually one of the best songs I have ever heard.
The only song on the album that I’ve ever disliked is the second last song, ‘By Deamons Be Drive,’ which I come to like more and more with each listen though never as much as the rest of Vulgar Display. This is pretty much my attitude to the entire Cowboys From Hell album over the years, with initial dislike turning to grudging acceptance and now genuine enjoyment.
The best thing about Vulgar Display, even more than the songs and the performances is that Oh-So perfect production, some of it sounds ludicrous when you really think about it but in full effect, all together the whole thing just sounds amazing, it sounds like a combination between a bright summers day and the film stock Clerks was filmed on. I remember playing GTA Vice City and playing Vulgar Display and just thinking, ‘This Fits So Well,’ with the game’s Floridian summer setting.
I didn’t really change my mind at all on this re-listening, it is still one of my favourite albums ever and listening to it again without any baggage only reaffirmed my feelings about it.