PANTERA – FAR BEYOND DRIVEN
Released: 22 March 1994
Phil Anselmo | Vocals
Dimebag Darrel | Guitar
Rex Brown | Bass
Vinnie Paul Abbot | Drums
Take a look at the band that produced the heaviest album to ever hit Number 1 on the Billboard Album Charts through the eyes of a then 16 year old metalhead. This is my recount of how 4 lads from America’s south stared down the death of heavy metal and emerged triumphant, leading every generation of heavy music out of the thick fog of grunge and forward into the 21st century.
Now it’s late 1994. There’s no fucking internet, Kurt Cobain has only just gone cold and if you read any magazine worth its salt, they’d all but declared that Heavy Metal was dead and gone. All the bands we’d fallen in love with had fallen out of favour with the record companies due to perceived shift in trends and if anything worth listening to was being released, in Australia it was near impossible to access. Understand, there’s no internet. Definitely no streaming. No YouTube or Spotify and Facebook. Shit, MySpace wasn’t even a thing and Marcos Zuckerberg, well that egomaniacal little turd is only 10 years old and still a good 7 years from springing his first pube. If it wasn’t for Utopia Records we’d have had no fucking hope of getting anything Punk or Heavy Metal. Local record stores all but stopped stocking heavy music and if they did, it was in a small dusty bin up the back corner of the shop filled with old Saxon tapes from 1983.
Metalheads were treated like lepers. The atmosphere changed when one of us entered a room. Admittedly, a lot of us did nothing to quell the situation. When you fill a train heading for Sydney with leather and denim clad bogans screaming “SLAYYYYEEERRRRR!!!!!!” at the top of their lungs, you’re going to scare a few of the normals.
We were an ugly breed and it was an expensive venture looking as amazing as we did. Most of the metal shirts at the time needed to be imported and if you mail-ordered the fuckers it would take months to get. You had to mail overseas, hope to fuck they got it, hope even more that they sent it and pray that it hadn’t been ruined on the way. Again, there’s no Amazon, no online tracking, no progress emails. Just send a check or your credit card details to some address you got on the back of Kerrang Magazine and try not to max the bastard out before they charged you. The same was with albums.
Those battle jackets you lot wear that are pre-made, already sewn together and available on eBay, well we had to make ours. (Thanks mum for sewing the patches on).
A lot of the CD’s were import copies that would cost north of $40. I remember seeing Morbid Angel’s Blessed Are The Sick (a stone cold classic) for $49.95 and I thought “I only have $16″. I grabbed it, asked the lads to put it on and I strolled around looking at more shit I couldn’t afford for the next 40 minutes. I grabbed a Sodom tape from the bargain bin and a Dio patch and jumped on the one and a half hour train back home without a ticket because I’d emptied the cobwebs out of my wallet at Utopia Records.
So rewind a few months to March 94, when Kurt was still breathing, metal was still dead and Grunge was the closest we could get to a heavy guitar sound. Out of the smokey haze of boy bands, Britpop filth and MTV Unplugged sessions, Pantera released their third major label release Far Beyond Driven. This release outsold every other album on the planet for a whole week. All the music experts and label wankers that had done their utmost to bury heavy metal were left scratching their heads, wondering how these four loud ugly bastards from Texas and New Orleans had outsold Ace Of Base so significantly and put Heavy Fucking Metal at the top of a list they had no business even being a part of.
The impact was immediate. Pantera was abrasive, clinical and as subtle as a sledge hammer to the throat. The energy that pulsed from FBD became ingrained in your psyche. Its influence was undeniable. The entire album became an instant classic. It lit a fire under every metal fans arse. If you saw someone else wearing a Pantera shirt, there was a massive chance that you were going to end up in a pub with them, yelling out “PANTERAAA” and doing shots. It was a great fucking time to be alive.
Then Pantera announced they were coming to Australia… By the time my best mate Jack and I saw them at the now flattened Sydney Entertainment Centre (RIP) in November 1994 we’d already belted their three albums Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven to within inches of deafness. In addition to that, our mate Sestic had ensured our whole study class had seen the “Pantera Home Videos” during study periods where a teacher had failed to show (It was either that or Musyckza would throw on Eddie Murphy’s ‘Delirious’. Good times). More on that to come…
Today, for the 27th Anniversary, I’m listening to Far Beyond Driven for the millionth time. I’ll have a few beers and a few more BlackTooth Grins.
Cheers you lot. Get Ya Pull.
Words by Duane James @duanejamestattoo
Pantera – Far Beyond Driven tracklisting:
1. Strength Beyond Strength
3. 5 Minutes Alone
4. I’m Broken
5. Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills
6. Hard Lines, Sunken Cheeks
8. 25 Years
9. Shedding Skin
10. Use My Third Arm
11. Throes Of Rejection
12. Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath cover)
13. The Badge* (Poison Idea cover)
* Appeared on the Australian special release and The Crow Soundtrack
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