On February 25th, 1992, Pantera released their fifth album, Vulgar Display of Power. From it’s album cover of an unfortunate dude getting clocked in the face to the eleven tracks on the album, it was instantly an iconic album. In addition to arguably being the high point of the band’s career, it was influential to countless metal fans as well as the band’s peers. While the postcript to Pantera’s breakup has been a rough one, there’s no denying that Vulgar Display is an essential album. With the album’s 25th anniversary tomorrow tomorrow (25), we reached out to a handful of musicians to ask them their thoughts on the album, the first time they heard it, and their favorite song on the album.
WHAT DOES VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER MEAN TO YOU?
Scott Ian, Anthrax
The songwriting is genius and of course Darrell’s tone on the album is undeniable. The best metal record of the nineties and arguably the best of the last 25 years.
Charlie Benante, Anthrax
Vulgar Display still is my favorite Pantera album. I think on that record, side one especially, is just hit after hit. It has a great flow to it, the songs are awesome, the production is great – that’s another reason why I think that album works so well, the production side of things. It’s so brutal. Dime’s tone on it is just so fucking heavy and in your face, the drums are very, very, very aggressive, the vocals are aggressive but melodic, I just think it’s their best album, to this day.
Ben Hutcherson, Khemmis
Pantera was huge for my teens and early 20s in Mississippi. I didn’t have regular internet access until I was 17 or 18, so my exposure to metal initially came from reading Guitar World and buying CDs from a local shop. My first Pantera album was Reinventing the Steel, as it was the newest one, and I remember seeing a poster of the VDoP cover at the local music store and thinking “Whoa, a dude getting punched? That must mean it’s HEAVY.” Sure enough I picked it up a week later and blasted it on my awful boombox with the “mega bass boost” function kicked on. I’d only been playing guitar for a few years at that point, but I remember how awesome it felt to learn to play “Walk” and “This Love.” I am sure my parents were less excited about hearing that intro riff to “Walk” about a million times, but, hey, they didn’t complain. Jamming along to that album kept me out of trouble (for the most part).
David McGraw, Cattle Decapitation
Pantera has always been one of my biggest influences, specially at the time being a 13yr old getting into metal and drumming. First time I heard “This Love” I just remember it being the heaviest thing ever, and it still is! Pantera’s album production really helped me appreciate great engineering and performance in the studio.
Carlos Cruz, Warbringer
There genuinely couldn’t be a better title for Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power. Though my favorite Pantera releases are Power Metal/CFH, this is a stylistically defining album for the band where you hear the progression of Phil’s voice, Dime’s riff style/songwriting and the overall improved sonics in the production. Hails to Vinnie Paul’s direction towards achieving these stellar tones by producing the band with Terry Date. I wholeheartedly relate to this role in Warbringer.
Attila Csihar, Mayhem/SUNN 0)))
I heard it when it came out and it was fucking cool fresh and killer! Loved its sound too. I remember listening it on my friends high end stereo. It was brutal.
Reyka Osburn, Death Valley High
I was a late bloomer to Pantera. A close friend pointed out some woke subtleties on this very record, and ever since then, I’ve been a fan of their attention to detail. I’ve always been inspired by that attitude and mindfulness.
Tony Asta, Battlecross
Vulgar Display of Power is and always will be a monumental album. Pushing the boundaries to become more and more extreme, Pantera showed heavy metal could be well written but also very aggressive at the same time. Dime’s leads on the album are ridiculously good and only further cemented his legacy to become one of the greatest guitarists on earth (and beyond… rest in peace). Although I love the vocals Phil did on CFH, he stepped it up in a much more aggressive and unique style on Vulgar, unmatched by any other vocalist in my opinion. The album as a whole changed the way metal was heard: nobody sounded like Pantera, nobody sounded like this. The first time I heard it can best be described as hearing something on a whole new level. When you hear something for the first time, something you could never imagine before, it sends sensations to the soul in ways you never felt. That is exactly what Vulgar exhumes, the music itself taps a primal aggression within and the lyrics portray a strong message of empowerment. It is very hard to pick a favorite song because they are all so impressive!
Marzi Montazeri, Marzi, former Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals, Superjoint Ritual
It was a musical life changing event for me personally! Even though Darrell was my friend and we both came from the same school of players like Eddie and Randy he had managed to create a whole new style with all the right ingredients in part to make him the best heavy metal guitar player ever starting with CFH but he pushed it further with Vulgar! His songwriting, tone and full on attack was and still is inspiring!
Paolo Volavolpe, Destrage
To me and all the guys in Destrage, Vulgar Display Of Power is simply one of those few albums of life. I probably never would have started to sing in a heavy metal band without it. I was at high school and a friend came to me bringing this metal compilation. To me was just like “doing bad things,” I was so excited. The first track on that compilation was “Regular People.” That riff just blew my mind and in the same day after the school i went to the local metal music shop to buy this album. I didn’t listen anything else for 3 months. Pantera and this album are probably the reasons why I joined a metal band.
John Jarvis, Fulgora/Scour/Pig Destroyer, Agoraphobic Nosebleed
If I could only listen to one Pantera album the rest of my life, it’d be Vulgar. It’s got the perfect mix of everything great about Pantera. Super heavy, amazing guitar work, great production. After I heard “This Love” on “Headbangers Ball” I traded a friend my copy of Metallicas Black Album for his copy of Vulgar. I’d say I got the better end of that deal.
Catastrofiend, Kill The Precedent
This was the second album I had heard from Pantera. I was just 19, and couldn’t wait for this release. Having worn out CFH, I was hoping they would deliver more of the same groove and aggression. What they did was double down and push that style to unknown levels. I had never heard a metal band that mixed metal with such a groove. Combining pure thrash with hints of blues and a soulful swagger. Not to mention the best guitar tone I had ever heard in my life. A classic metal album no doubt.
Shawn Knight, Child Bite
I asked for this CD for my 15th birthday & surprisingly enough my aunt bought it for me. I guess my grandma asked to see it before it was wrapped and thought the punched face looked like a chipmunk. I used to prank call the neighbors, holding the phone up to my boombox as I played the end of “Fucking Hostile,” tapping the rewind button so it would repeat the word “fucking” over and over.
Colin Young, Twitching Tongues
Vulgar Display of Power was one of the very first pieces of hard music I heard in my life. Even as a young tot in elementary school I knew it was special. Twitching Tongues would simply not exist if not for this record and Pantera as a whole.
Shawn Drover, Act of Defiance, ex-Megadeth
I was already a fan after Cowboys from Hell was released, so I was jacked up to hear Vulgar Display of Power upon its release in early 1992. I actually saw Pantera at the Fox Theater in Atlanta supporting Skid Row right as the new record was just being released, so it was an exciting time overall to see Pantera perform live and debuting some new material. Needless to say, they blew the roof off the place and totally blew me away.
Joseph Michael, Witherfall
To me they set the bar for being heavy yet still melodic. Every single song on this record is laden with hooks. Phil Anselmo was a lot more aggressive on this record than on Cowboys From Hell but you could still hear note definition and melody, unlike many of today’s metal “vocalists” he could hold a note. Dimebag Darrel Rex and Vinnie are by far my favorite metal trio and the Terry Date production is flawless.
Dalila Kayros, Syk
I believe I bought it when I was 12 or 13, in that moment of my life I was really into my “protometal” era discovering new stuff all the time. That was the first album that leads myself to extreme music. Moreover I loved the fact that they could be harsh and fucking heavy But able to write great ballads as well. Without Pantera I would have had probably approached extreme metal some time later, so to me they has been the bridge between heavy metal and more extreme stuff.
Anthony Paganelli, Horseneck
Vulgar Display of Power is one of my all-time favorite albums. Start to finish every song is fucking awesome. And I remember when I first heard it, it changed the way I thought that heavy music should sound. I hadn’t heard anything like it before. Super fat gnarly riffs with aggressive screaming style vocals. It was groovy, thrash, and punk all rolled up in one. Super pissed off. I was in school and I remember dubbing the tape from a friend and basically wearing it out. I photocopied the album art because it was so awesome. I think I even drew the album art for a project in art class. I ended up buying the tape again and the cd. I learned every riff on that album on guitar. Basically shaped me in my into the guitar player I am now. And the vocals as well. Phil’s voice was raw and raspy but had melody. I still want that voice. That album means a lot to me.
Matt Iacovelli, Rozamov
Vulgar Display of Power is definitely one of the first 10 heavy metal records that I got into. At the time Pantera was marketed really well, they had something for just about everybody. They were able to tap into the jock football player crowd whilst maintaining the thrasher and metal people too.
Ron Varod, Sabbath Assembly, Psalm Zero, Kay Dot
Though Pantera’s groove element may be guilty of birthing a lot of Nu Metal of my middle school years Dime’s approach to guitar playing really stuck out for me, really colorful. I also knew that I’d never palm mute as heavy as he did so I knew I needed to find a different way to add weight to my playing and have a unique voice.
Matt Zagorski, Dying Whale
It’s such an important record, not to me only, but to the whole world of metallic hardcore. If I never saw the video to walk growing up, I might not know what a real metal show looked like. I might never had the true desire to go to a heavy show without them.
Jack Doolan, Cypher 16
First hearing Pantera in general left a permanent impression on me. The sound they produced was simply different to any other band of the genre, and matched with the musicianship of the Darrell brothers made for a amazing and totally unique unit. I love the raw and aggressive punk-like feel to many of the tracks on VDOP, but equally how they drop huge metallic riffs out of nowhere. The TONE of their music was just so heavy on that record. Anselmo’s vocals border on manic in places which just adds even more to the feel of the record and even though they only had one guitar player the sound is enormous. It was one of those records where every track hits hard and by the end of it you just want to go back and start it all over again.