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Pantera, "Far Beyond Driven" Album Review

Ara is a Journalism graduate who used to work for Countrywide and saw what was going on in the company during the mortgage crisis.

A Mixed Musical Effort from Pantera

Texas groovy thrash metal band Pantera got their career reinvented and off in a great direction with the release of Cowboys from Hell in 1990. I wrote a while back about Far Beyond Driven and what it felt like to listen to it 20 years after its release Pantera got even more heavy and aggressive with 1994’s Far Beyond Driven. Vocalist Phil Anselmo developed a very harsh, rough shouting style kind of voice. Change is a good thing if it is done properly. However, this album is an album that I would describe as one that it is good in some ways and not so good in others. Far Beyond Driven is one of those albums that is just weird and very difficult to get used to. Rather than mentioning that this album is an acquired taste, it is one of those albums that you need to be in the right type of mood to be able to handle.

The Album Gets Off to a Very Strong Start

The opening song "Strength Beyond Strength" is one of the good songs. This one is about the breakdown of the American Dream. Just because someone goes to college and works hard does not mean that this strategy is a path to being part of a successful middle class person. The band brought up this subject in 1994, well before the financial crisis in 2008. It makes you wonder if the band knew that we would be dealing with very hard times years later.

About the Songs Becoming, 5 Minutes Alone, and I'm Broken

Becoming is a song that has a guitar sound mixed with the amplifier to create a sort of feedback kind of sound. Another major weakness of this album is the sub-par lead guitar work of Dimebag Darrell. I don’t really hear the same feeling and passion that he had back in 1990. I’m Broken is a song that is just okay. For the most part, this is how it felt listening to the song in 2016. The ending riff with Rex’s bass sound being present gets the song off to a nice finish. However, for those of you that wanted to see Pantera really take it up a notch with their aggressiveness then Far Beyond Driven will definitely be your cup of tea. Back in the day, Becoming was the first song that I heard on the radio at the time this album was being released but Pantera has done better than that song. The end of it though is a good way to finish it but can we count this one as a good song? Well, that’s a tough call. Phil Anselmo's vocals go up a notch as he utters the words “stronger than all” at the end of Strength Beyond Strength. “5 Minutes Alone” being one of the heaviest songs in Pantera’s history is a song that lyrically is about someone that is tough enough that no one can mess with him. No one can take him for a fool.

"Becoming"

The Weakest Point of the Album: Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills

Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills is a song filled with bass guitar and lots of feedback. This has to be one of the lowest points in the career of Pantera. The song just has Phil Anselmo talking and it has no real hooks to keep you interested. This is a terrible job at music for a band that became popular only to eventually break up in 2003. For those people that have been critical of Metallica because of St. Anger, no song on that album as bad as this one is. The songs in St. Anger do not have guitar solos but at least they have a structure to them. Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills is just a bunch of talking and noise that makes no sense and should not belong in any album.

Final Thoughts

Far Beyond Driven represented a very low point for Pantera when I first reviewed this album back in 2016. Far Beyond Driven is a transitional heavy groove metal album that represented the time in which Pantera’s mission was to create some of the most brutal sounding heavy metal that we would have heard up to that point in time. That heaviness gets even more noticeable with songs such as Slaughtered and Use My Third Arm.

At the end of this heavy groove filled album is a cover performance of Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan song. Is it a questionable choice by the band? I think that they could have covered an even better song by Black Sabbath at the end. Within five minutes of listening to Far Beyond Driven, you will notice that it is heavier and more brutal in its sound and approach than Vulgar Display of Power. If you are just getting into the music of Pantera, Far Beyond Driven is not the album to listen to first. This is an album that requires the listener to already be used to albums of this type. One other quality that may drag the album’s score down is the excessive strong language in the lyrics. For some fans, this is a deal breaker. Listening to Far Beyond Driven in 2022 makes some of us realize how the album took heavy metal in a rougher sounding direction than it had previously been. This album feels like a hit or miss album so there are times you might really enjoy the album and there are times that you might be shaking your head and wonder what is going on.

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Rate Pantera's 1994 Album Far Beyond Driven

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Ara Vahanian

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