Pantera’s best album by some distance was Vulgar Display Of Power, released in 1992 and only their second LP since switching directions from the laughable glam rock which they’d played all through the 80s. Despite the band’s brand new Paddington Bear stares and much tougher material based on thrash metal and downtuned grooves, the production was still way too fragile, all crispy kick drums and no bass.
This 20th anniversary remaster doesn’t remedy that problem nearly enough, so you’ll need to tweak your EQ to make the album sound good. Once you’ve done that, though, Vulgar Display is as amazing as it was all those years ago. The high points come thick and fast: the runaway thrash riffs and beats of Fucking Hostile and Rise are still gobsmacking, while Walk – probably Pantera’s most recognisable tune to this day – is proof of the band’s devastatingly economical songwriting skills. With its irresistible opening swagger, A New Level has become so iconic that even Madonna covered it in her live shows a few years back. As for incentives to purchase™, extras include an unreleased track, charmingly called Piss, three video clips, and six live songs from a 1992 show in Italy. Sadly, none of this is particularly gripping: Piss is appropriately lukewarm, the clips have been around forever and the Italian stuff is nothing new, given the six billion hours of live Pantera footage on YouTube. The core songs are still ace, though.