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The 10 best Pantera songs of all time

Pantera
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Everything's bigger in Texas, and Pantera are proof of that. One of the heaviest,  grooviest and most in-your-face metal bands of all time – a brutal mash of revved-up riffs from Dimebag, battering ram drums from Vinnie Paul, the walking basslines of Rex Brown and gnarled vocals from Philip Anselmo. A powerhouse and an inspiration to a generation of bands in the 21st century, few can come close to the ambition and aggression of Pantera.

Here are ten of their greatest songs (we don't include the glam metal years).

Cowboys From Hell

A full on display of fury. Right in your face; it’s the tale of a young metal band from Texas taking on the world. And it has a guitar groove from Dimebag that not only shreds hard and heavy, but also has the type of grade few others could hope to match. With this one song, the Pantera sound was cemented.

Psycho Holiday

An anthem that might have a thrash mentality, but goes way beyond what you could achieve by sticking rigidly in this genre. At once the band prove they could be melodic, nasty and musically simple but creative. It’s all built around some breathtaking guitar work from Dimebag. He fires and pounds, and never sits back to milk the adulation.

Cemetery Gates

To call this, as some have done, a power ballad is to underestimate what’s being routed here. This is an astonishingly dark parable of a suicide solution that’s not the answer. It’s a lament, with the guitar part emphasising that sometimes the space left between notes gives the performance credence. The affirmation of an all time great.

Mouth For War

The positive side of hate, on a song that understands anger needs a channel to come to rightful fruition. While on the surface, it’s snarling, gnashing and biting, if you listen carefully, there’s an underlying sense of vulnerability. Few others could have convincingly delivered such opposing textures.

Walk

Not only perhaps Pantera’s most recognisable intro, but one that stands among the most identifiable of any metal beginning. The first second gives the song away. It’s a riffing headbutt that opens up a gaping wound, allowing Anselmo to charge through the viscera. This is one of the those Pantera high spots when you appreciate how Dimebag and Anselmo worked as a team.

Fucking Hostile

Another song that looks deeper at the causes of attitude, and says society is too rigid, creating pathological turbulence. Dimebag’s guitar shots generates an almost staccato agitation. It careers headlong, bursting into a pummelling polemic, but as with everything he did, it’s less about guitar heroics, more about shading in the song.

5 Minutes Alone

This is based on a threatened confrontation between Anselmo and a fan’s dad. It’s lyrically no holds barred, but what the guitar does is back up the emotions expressed by the vocals, yet also offers another avenue of thought. There’s almost a funky groove to that takes the piss out of the whole incident. It adds humour to the pugilistic spice.

I'm Broken

An example of how things could work in Dime World. He cut into a spontaneous riff during a soundcheck, suffering from a huge hangover. And it inspires the rest of the band to take it forward. The riff actually has the stench of a hangover cure, and smells of tobacco, weed and booze – the essence of a classic riff.

Planet Caravan

Daring to take on a Black Sabbath classic is brave yet foolhardy. Pantera, though, do exactly that here, and successfully transcend the legend of the original. Of course, they are respectful to what Sabbath had done, but take it as a blueprint rather than an imprint. It makes you appreciate why Tony Iommi holds Dimebag in such esteem.

Floods

One of Dimebag’s most popular solos turns this into a monster. It’s an idea he’d had for several years, before finally getting the chance to bring it into form. This is a lot more orchestral than most of Pantera's work, and the way Rex Brown complements the guitar on bass adds to the impact. It underlines the band were about more than The Shred.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. He would later become a founding member of RAW rock magazine in 1988.

In the early 90s, Malcolm Dome was the Editor of Metal Forces magazine, and also involved in the horror film magazine Terror, before returning to Kerrang! for a spell. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He was actively involved in Total Rock Radio (opens in new tab), which launched as Rock Radio Network in 1997, changing its name to Total Rock in 2000. In 2014 he joined the TeamRock online team as Archive Editor, uploading stories from all of our print titles and helping lay the foundation for what became Louder.

Dome was the author of many books on a host of bands from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and Metallica, some of which he co-wrote with Prog Editor Jerry Ewing.