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Pantera "Far Beyond Driven": Album Review (1994)

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The album cover for Far Beyond Driven can represent a decline in the band's career as this image shows. Pantera were never the same band after their 1992 album Vulgar Display of Power.

The album cover for Far Beyond Driven can represent a decline in the band's career as this image shows. Pantera were never the same band after their 1992 album Vulgar Display of Power.

Far Beyond Driven Can Be a Mixed Musical Effort But Is It Still Good?

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. I have since decided to review this album again because I want to show how Pantera started to decline as a band after 1992’s Vulgar Display of Power album. 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.

Analysis of the Songs Strength Beyond Strength, Becoming, 5 Minutes Alone and I'm Broken

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. "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. 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. If you thought that Vulgar Display of Power was brutal and aggressive in its sound, Far Beyond Driven may take that up a notch. It is almost like Pantera decided to create the most brutal and aggressive groovy thrash metal album they could come up with. 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.

Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills is the worst Pantera song ever

"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.

"I'm Broken"

Far Beyond Driven VS the Album Risk

The song called Shedding Skin (one of the few strong songs)

Far Beyond Driven Can Be Thought of As a Transitional Groove Metal Album

Far Beyond Driven represented a very low point for Pantera when I first reviewed this album back in 2016. But as of December 29, 2020 and going forward into 2021, 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.

Weakness of 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.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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