Let’s get one thing straight right from the get go, Dimebag Darrell, or Diamond Darrell as he was still known at this stage is the master of the riff and nowhere else does he display his talents more than on this CD. Honestly no review of any Pantera CD could be complete without a worshiping of this great mans talents but I will save that one for later. For those of you who followed PANTERA from their beginnings you would know that this CD was a huge departure from the one before it, so much so the band has disowned any CD released before this one.
It was at this time that Phil started to bring his thrash influences that took the forefront on “Vulgar Display Of Power”. Though at this stage there is none of his trademark bark to be found and the vocals consist entirely of either singing or the more classic Metal wail, an acquired taste yes but they work very well here. It may or not of escaped you that I have yet to talk about the music here itself, well what is there to say, it’s the standard PANTERA sound, Thrash done mainly in mid-tempo with shitloads of groove and boy does it work, while it may sound stale today because its been done to death by thousands of lesser bands, back in 1991 this sort of stuff was still fresh and boy did it sound exciting. Vinnie Paul shows that he is just one of the best drummers of all time; exciting technical fills are pulled off effortlessly and when he decides to hit the pedal and get a bit of speed, well its pure brilliance, this guy is one of the best kick drummers this side of Dave from SLAYER. Now as promised, I’m going to talk about the guitar work, in a word, monumental, the guy really did bring something new to the table, his riffs smoke and are all memorable and his lead work is just superb and even his acoustic work at the start of both “Cemetery Gates” and “The Sleep” is killer.
Now if your looking for a song by song analysis your just not going to get one, besides ruining the surprise for those of you who haven’t got this CD yet, anything I say about the songs would not do them justice really. Though I will say this, if this CD is not in your collection, it damn well should be, it’s a modern classic and it features at least two timeless classic songs of any genre in the title track and “Cemetery Gates”. So all I can do is give this timeless classic the score it deserves, a perfect 10! (Online February 1, 2005)
Guest reviewer Shane Head