Review: Pantera – Cowboys from Hell (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Who are Pantera? What? You don’t know Pantera? Well, then fuck off. Pantera were one of the most important metal bands of the 90’s, getting heavier and heavier with each release.

This very release I’m holding in my hands right now, was Pantera’s major label debut and got rerelease last month, including 2 bonus CDs. I won’t be reviewing the actual album but the 2 bonus CDs. Read on after the jump.

Pantera – Cowboys from Hell (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (2010)

So, the Expanded Edition Bonus CD includes a previously unreleased live performance at the Foundations Forum from 1990 and the ‘aLIVE and hostile e.p.’ that was recorded in 1991 in Moscow, Russia during the Monsters of Rock festival, that also included Metallica and AC/DC, among other lesser known bands.

The performance from the Foundations Forum sounds almost flawless and shows Pantera during their change from Glam to Groove Metal. Phil Anselmo sounds way less angry than on later live performances, which suits the songs off ‘Cowboys from Hell’ the most. More melody, less brutality, which is most apparent during ‘Psycho Holiday’ and ‘The Sleep’. The real highlight of this live CD, maybe even the whole CD package, is ‘Cemetery Gates’. I’ve seen a lot of Pantera live performances on YouTube and such (sadly never got to see them in person) and this is, by far, the best rendition of ‘Cemetery Gates’ I’ve ever heard. This is Phil Anselmo with his best singing voice.

Also included is a live version of ‘The Art of Shredding’, the only song that never made it live onto a Pantera release. Again, flawless. The second part of this bonus CD is the rerelease of the ‘aLIVE and hostile e.p.’ and if you always wanted to know what the intro to the performance was, you need to put in the Deluxe Edition Bonus CD, that includes demos of 10 of the 12 ‘Cowboys from Hell’ songs and a previously unreleased song, called ‘The Will to Survive’.

The 2nd bonus CD starts off with the “new” song ‘The Will to Survive’. A song that sounds more like pre-‘Cowboys from Hell’ than anything else on the album. Glamtera. When I first heard the song, I (like almost every other Pantera fan) noticed the riff that was later used for ‘This Love’ on ‘Vulgar Display of Power’, Pantera’s 2nd album. It’s not a bad song but it hardly sounds like the Pantera I love. It sounds like a completely different band.

Now, back to the intro of the ‘aLIVE and hostile’ performance. Have you ever wondered what that intro was? Well, it was originally the intro to ‘Shattered’ as heard on this demo of the song. I think, it works great for the song and, in my opinion, should have been used for the original album as an intro. What is the biggest difference between the demos and the 1990 release of these songs? Mostly Anselmo’s vocals, that sound more glam on the demos. The highlight of this demo CD is ‘Domination’ which sounds more raw and therefore angrier than the finished version.

Finally, is it worth getting this 20th Anniversary Edition of the 1990 classic? For hardcore Pantera fans, who are especially sad that there was only one previously released live CD (‘Official Live: 101 Proof’), yes. Definitely. For non hardcore fans, I suggest getting the original album. The album may have been remastered here but I think the original doesn’t sound any worse. It still holds up. Getcha Pull!


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