Metal Magic

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Later disowned by Pantera once they'd discovered Metallica and reinvented themselves as an extreme metal powerhouse via 1990's Cowboys from Hell, 1983's Metal Magic was the band's true debut album, and the first of three independently released LPs featuring original vocalist Terrence Lee Glaze, who was of course eventually replaced by the notorious Philip Anselmo. Back at the start, though, Glaze, brothers "Diamond" Darrell Abbott (guitar) Vincent "Vinnie Paul" Abbott (drums), and bassist Rex Brown were a rudderless young heavy rock band and, in many ways, were as wanting for musical direction as American heavy metal in general, which was teetering on the brink of exploding in popularity along two very distinct stylistic paths: thrash and glam metal. Being that they were huge fans of Kiss, Van Halen, and Judas Priest, perhaps it's not so surprising that Pantera initially chose the latter route, but in all fairness, it's also unlikely that the now much maligned Metal Magic would have fared any better as a thrash album, given their youth and inexperience. In any case, with the exception of a few bright spots like the simple but well-constructed "I'll Be Alright" and "Widowmaker" and the shred-tastic second half of "Rock Out," Metal Magic was dominated by exceedingly average hard rock and metal misfires ("Latest Lover," "Sad Lover," the title cut, etc.) or failed attempts at more commercial fare like the borderline AOR of "Nothing On (But the Radio)" and synthesizer-enabled fiascos "Tell Me If You Want It" and the power ballad "Biggest Part of Me." Not surprisingly, Metal Magic's strongest asset from start to finish was the already discernible talent of guitar hero in waiting Diamond Darrell, even though his biggest preoccupation at the time seemed to be paying tribute to his idol, Ace Frehley, via the especially memorable "Ride My Rocket." Needles to say, though, Pantera had their work cut out for them, so at least Metal Magic set them on their way, as they began accumulating much needed experience as the local concert openers of choice for visiting national acts like Quiet Riot, Dokken, and Stryper.

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