Power Metal

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Although hidden away by the band and dismissed as fluffy hair metal by most, the four albums that came before Cowboys from Hell were far more along the lines of Judas Priest with a little Shout at the Devil-era Mötley Crüe tossed in. Power Metal, the first to feature Phil Anselmo on vocals, was the first of these albums to point toward the direction the group chose in 1990. Although this is still quite based in the time period, songs like "Rock the World" are heavier and more anthemic than their reputation would make you think. The lyrics are the biggest problem, showing none of the gutter poetry that Anselmo would develop through time and instead reflecting a bland interest in all things "rock," from the misogynistic "P.S.T. 88" to the stereotypical "Proud to Be Loud." The music is pure '80s power metal, with Dimebag Darrell pumping out speedy riffs like he had just joined Lizzy Borden. This is actually one of the more charming elements of the band's early sound, as he was obviously a very talented guitarist even then. Pantera was a rough-edged combo before Anselmo incorporated his Sheer Terror and Exhorder influences, but Power Metal is an interesting and transitional early effort from one of the most important metal bands of the '90s.

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