On this period, Pantera – which was by then already a very successful and established band, with a fifteen years career –, had begun its way towards disbandment. After The Great Southern Trendkill, Pantera would release only one more album, 2000’s Reinventing the Steel, and, in 2003, the band would definitely split for good. During the recording of The Great Southern Trendkill, tensions between the band members were already exceedingly high, especially between Anselmo and the rest of the band. So much so, that Anselmo recorded the vocals in another studio, far away from where the band recorded the instruments. All of this done – I think – with the clear intention of not worsening the disrupted and thoroughly complicated relationships between them.
Nevertheless, the album has pretty high standards on creative, technical and production values. The harmonies and the general melodies of the songs expresses detailed shape and vitality, and you can almost feel in each and every musical note the beauty of their vehement dedication. Even people who are not too much drawn to this genre of music – or their style in particular – can’t avoid feeling their gigantic and amazingly intense musical power.
Another point that should be highlighted is the fact that groove and thrash metal are thoroughly well combined together, to the point where you can’t really distinguish where one genre finishes, and another begins. While it is not uncommon for these two genres to stand together and perfectly complement each other – another great example of a band that amalgamated these genres exceedingly good was legendary American band Fear Factory [at least, in their first albums] – Pantera excels on this art, and to an extent that becomes impossible not to recognize their majorly impeccable level of excellence. In fact, it is impressive the high standards of dedication and professionalism the band was able to maintain, given the problematic relationships the band members had at the period the album was recorded. Each and every person who knows a little about the history of the band is familiarized with the fact that Phil Anselmo – mainly by virtue of his drug addiction and substance abuse – was not an easy person to live with. He was deemed controversial due to some of his antics, like in one occasion upon which he addressed the audience with the Nazi salutation (although he later apologized for this behavior).
The Great Southern Trendkill is a fantastic album, that, more than any other record in modern heavy metal history, deserves to stay – well, already are – in the annals of mainstream metal. With even some flavors of country rock brilliantly and organically added to it, the creativity and the audacity of the band will always remain a great symbol of longitude in a sonorous miraculous paradise. And while listening to it, I couldn’t avoid to feel – because of genre limitations – some similarities with famous Brazilian metal bands Sepultura and Soulfly, although these two would never be, even at their maximum capacities, as great, significant, genuine, competent and restless as Pantera.
If you have never heard The Great Southern Trendkill, I’m really inclined to suggest you to do so. It is probably the highest exemplar on groove/ trash metal those genres ever produced. And despite the extensive length of the album – it is approximately sixty seven minutes long [although I have listened to a version that included bonus live tracks] – you will not feel time pass by! You will be captivatingly drawn to a world where every sound was designed to penetrate your soul deeply, in an excruciatingly true, but, vivid, honest, sincere and pleasant manner.