Pantera's Latest is Brutal (at Best)

Pantera - Official Live: 101 Proof
(Island Records)
1 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

Thrash metal has never been known for it's intelligence or it's subtlety. It is about as amicable as a fist fight and as inviting as a bad accident. The testosterone is high and content degradingly low.
Pantera, a four-piece thrash-metal band with members from Texas and Louisiana, are a perfect example of this damn-the-torpedoes genre.Their latest release, Official Live: 101 Proof, is a raw, live recording from their 1996-97 world tour, which culls material from their first four studio albums, Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display Of Power, Far Beyond Driven and The Great Southern Trendkill.
"We felt like after seven years of playing live, that we wanted to put out a record with all our best tunes", explains drummer Vinnie Paul on Pantera's internet web site. "Songs that have our own TLC instead of all that foolishness that happens when a band puts out a greatest hits album or some overdubbed live album."
While the music here is a bit more dynamic than the majority of the run-of-the-mill thrash bands that are out there, the end result is a live album that blends churning, stuttering power chords, Paul's lightening fast drumming, and one immensely grating, demonic voice from lead singer Philip Anselmo that lasts the entirety of the album.
In between the punked-up speed-metal of "Sandblasted Skin", Dimebag Darrell's twisted corkscrew guitar in "War Nerve" and the chugging rhythms in "Walk", Anselmo's on stage banter is crude and embarrassingly sophomoric (this guy makes Joe Pesci sound like a Sunday school teacher). He shouts out the lyrics as if in agony, and the only time on Official Live: 101 Proof does he come close to actually singing is on "This Love", the band's idea of a ballad, which turns out to be about as tender as a wife-beating.
Sure this stuff rocks hard, but given the option of bailing from car heading towards a brick wall at 100, I'll jump.

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