Pantera - Cowboys From Hell
It is often interesting to go back and listen to and re-assess classic albums to see if they’ve managed to stand the test of time. So with the new reissue of Pantera’s “debut” album Cowboys From Hell we can begin to see just what legacy guitarist Dimebag has left behind. 20 years on, and this album feels as relevant and immediate as it ever did; ‘Cemetery Gates’ and the title track still absolutely crush with their punishing riffs and sparkling solos, whilst Phil Anselmo flicks between Halford-esque screams and guttural howls in a synch. The thrashier grooves the band locks into through Cowboys From Hell have been imitated many times over since this first hit the shelves, but listening back you realise none have come close to the ball-breaking Southern-tinged metal pioneered herein.
Of course, with any descent reissue we get a plethora of bonus material for the hardcore fans to salivate over. The second disc here is full of live cuts for the ensuing tours, including the five tracks from Moscow that is the very rare Alive And Hostile EP. Although there are a few repeats in the tracks here from the two gigs, it more than makes the reissue worthwhile as these twelve gems rock their socks off! There’s an extra dose of vitriol that infuses the likes of ‘Heresy’ and ‘Domination’ over the studio versions that almost makes this disc more essential than the actual album.
The final disc, that’s only available with the more expensive packages, opens with the headline bonus item: previously unreleased track ‘The Will To Survive’. unfortunately it fails to live up to its billing, the track being more reminiscent of Pantera’s hidden past with its Maiden-esque bass gallop and glam metal yelps and foibles. The rest is a collection of demos recorded in the build up to putting Cowboys From Hell together, that whilst are interesting curios, deviate only slightly from the final product. ‘Cemetery Gates’ has yet to get its iconic acoustic build up, and ‘Shattered’ has a rather excellent 90 second intro that suggests it may have originally been planned as an album opener.