Pantera: Re-Firing The Forge
by Martin Popoff

Pantera: the name stands like a hard rock mountain in the heat-choked terrain of Texas. Pure, sterling-crisp, highly individualistic metal. No transformation, just reinvention, which sucks if you are lame, a worthy pursuit when your sound is a domain unto itself. And now the bands ninth album has hit, Reinventing The Steel being the new old Pantera, eventful, user-friendly, riff-mad and everything you expected with dozens of twists, state-of-the-art within a lonely camp, hardcore and regal at once.

Drummer, producer (well, technically co-producer with Dime) and lead spokesman Vinnie Paul reaches back a record and lays down the law on how to approach this mutha. "It is vague and it has to be. After all, Pantera is Pantera. You know when The Great Southern Trendkill came out, it was in '96 when heavy music was at an all-time low, at least during this past decade, and many bands that were heavy metal or hard rock did not want the word or terminology heavy metal used or associated with them, and everybody, the media, the radio, did everything they could to push it away, they just wanted it to disappear. And we made a record that was very anti-system, anti-everything, just the loudest, most extreme, the most aggressive, the darkest, just an obnoxious record. If you hated heavy metal, we wanted you to hate it that much more. That was the whole idea. And with the new record, we felt that we already accomplished all the extremities that could be addressed, and we kind of wanted to concentrate on the songwriting aspect. Obviously the most important thing was keep what Pantera was all about, the sound, the heaviness, but we wanted to get back to the grooves, the proper arrangements, the songs, the best songwriting that we could. Thats where I feel this record is headed."

"I've got to say that this is the easiest album we've ever made, continues Vinnie, throwing out one of those platitudes that he's probably uttered many times throughout the years as mouthpiece for the band. Everybody had some time to get away from each other. Everybody got time to do the things we havent been able to do. Weve pretty much been on tour for ten years straight, and making records in between all that time. When we did get a bit of time off, it was really healthy. The band had obviously been through some tough times, '96, '97, when metal was not popular; hard rock was not at the forefront. We managed to stay true to it. Obviously my lead singer had an overdose, we lived through that, it brought us closer together as a band and as friends. And everything right now in the Pantera camp is f**king great. Were excited the new record is out, the tour is coming, and what can I tell you? Its just a good time right now."

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