Living Through Me … Spotlight on Pantera’s 20th Anniversary Edtn. The Great Southern Trendkill & Joe Giron’s photography – Vulgar Display of Pantera
Let that name sink in for a while, wether you know them, or not, undoubtedly I’m sure you’ve heard of them if not heard them. But, it’s a name synonymous with heavy music, and more importantly an attitude and know how to deliver the sound of the underground and all it’s brutal sound, hardcore swagger to the masses.
To perhaps get inside my head, possibly understand my own thought process, my very raison d’etre would be to explore the very music that sonically has not only influenced me in my formative years, but guided me through adult life …
Pantera, are not only one, if not the one, of my all time favorite bands. So contextually if you were to interpret their work ethic, outlook and loosely study their message lyrically you’d have a far greater understanding of this, my blogs mission and perspective …
So, it’s that very reason, we ‘jump the shark’ and hijack this platform once again and away from our usual fare to review not one, but two recent offerings from the undisputed Kings of underground Heavy Metal.
First up is Pantera’s 20th Anniversary edition of The Great Southern Trendkill.
Originally pressed and released in the early summer of 1996 saw them follow up their number one charting Far Beyond Driven with this, their most abrasively caustic, and viscerally discordant, thematically, then, to date. Trust me, and that’s a good thing.
I shall avoid here, dissecting track by track as has already been capably done upon its original release and the subsequent two decades we’ve lived with it our music collections worldwide. I will proffer this however, it is my personal favorite, not are only is Pantera at their most vicious and spitefully rebellious. But, for all its heavy attack and bludgeoning brutal, it is sonically their most textured, layered and there is abundance of melody. It is here that they perhaps best illustrated their brand of power groove as initially debuted on Cowboys From Hell …
However, I digress – aside from its plush digi pak format, with additional band photography and liner notes from, presumably a notable journalist, I was intrigued to see many of the original engineers and unofficial ‘fifth’ members of Pantera had been involved in the remastering process and assembly of this edition.
The real treat here, intriguingly this often generates somewhat a love/hate reaction from music fans is the sets second disc, aptly titled ‘The Great Southern Outtakes‘.
This mirrors track for track the original long play set, but is instead comprised from a collection of curios, albeit either in live, demo, instrumental or early mix form.
The live versions are incredible, and I have a bootleg of the entire show these where recorded. One of Pantera’s few forays into Europe on the Trendkill tour, recorded in 1998 at the Dynamo Festival, Eindhoven. These live versions of the studio cuts really show, at this point what a finely tuned monster Pantera had become. Whilst even some of musics greats, and for that matter even Heavy Metal’s longstanding greats saw declining album and ticket sales, Pantera belligerently walked the earth undisputed much like Tyrannosaurus Rex did …
Hyperbole, sure – but to the initiated these tracks are most likely a terrifying introduction to their brand of against the grain American thrash metal.
In between these live cuts, the original album cuts, demo and early mixes bristle with technicality and proficiency that many bands struggle to attain to this day.
Maybe it’s just my love affair with that ‘Hardcore’ sound, but with Rex’s bass ever present in the mix, and the very forward presence of Anselmo’s vocals leaves these versions as an even more contemporary alternative to the original.
Again, such tracks prove to be controversially decisive, as some prefer to remember the originally finished versions, I’ve always enjoyed get to see behinds the scenes stuff, or sketch books – and these tracks are a compelling example of that. In particular, this early mix of Floods, contains a version of Dimebag’s renowned outro solo, that was later replaced at mixing stage in New York.
So, ambiguously perhaps a vague reflection on my part, but those either curious or a die hard fan, I’ll you pick this up and decide for yourselves. It is, however, a proud addition to sit alongside the anniversary editions of the Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven. I’m awaiting eagerly awaiting to see what they bring out to mark the anniversary of 1997’s live album.
01. The Great Southern Trendkill
02. War Nerve
03. Drag The Waters
04. 10 s
05. 13 Steps To Nowhere
06. Suicide Note Pt. I
07. Suicide Note Pt. II
08. Living Through Me (Hell’s Wrath)
10. The Underground In America
11. (Reprise) Sandblasted Skin
01. The Great Southern Trendkill (2016 Mix)
02. War Nerve (Live 98)
03. Drag The Waters (Early Mix)
04. 10 s (Early Mix)
05. 13 Steps To Nowhere (Instrumental Version)
06. Suicide Note Pt. I (Intro) *
07. Suicide Note Pt. I (Early Mix) *
08. Suicide Note Pt. II (Live 98)
09. Living Through Me (Hell’s Wrath) (Instrumental Version)
10. Floods (Early Mix)
11. The Underground In America (Early Mix)
12. Sandblasted Skin (Live 98)
… Suicide Note Pt. II – Joe Giron’s Photography – A Vulgar Display of Pantera
Whilst eagerly awaiting in anticipation of the anniversary edition of Trendkill, I was thrilled to hear, photographer extraordinaire and long standing chronicler of Pantera’s exploits, on and off stage, Joe Giron was to release an oversized hardback book.
Published by Lesser Gods this sees Pantera’s first fully authorized photographical collection, as gathered from Giron’s extensive catalogue of photography from his vaults documenting Pantera’s entire career.
Joe Giron’s professional career began in 1983 as a staff photographer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas. A chance assignment to shoot an up-and-coming local band led to a lasting friendship with one of hard rock’s most revered bands, Pantera. That, in turn, led to shooting many other artists, including AC/DC, David Bowie, Gwen Stefani, Van Halen, and U2, just to name a handful, for many of the world’s leading rock magazines.
Today, his niche is in the gaming industry as the photographer for the World Poker Tour and head of the official photography team at the World Series of Poker.
To set the story right, Joe Giron, was not just any photographer but a friend of the band right from the outset. As he set out to hone his craft, and the band too, started out playing clubs and bars on the Dallas, Texas circuit, where they went he went.
This hefty tome, chronologically follows the band from their early hairspray Van Halen inspired early beginnings, through to their transformation in to their better known incarnation. Subsequent albums and beyond right up until the bands unofficial conclusion with their final album and tour, Reinventing The Steel.
With a foreword from Pantera Bass Player Rex Brown, and introduction from Joe himself, the book is heavily peppered with both humorous and candid accounts of life on the road, in the studio and personally detailing some of more sublime and lesser known facts and stories behind the band.
I’d further argue, this serves as great companion to previously released Anniversary editions and subsequent futures releases of Pantera’s catalogue and naturally, Rex Browns own biographical turn, which he recounts his time in Pantera.
Essentially broken down across several chapters including their early formative years this makes for an interesting read as it chronologically captures the band visually both in the studio and subsequent tours. It serves as nostalgic time capsule capturing through its several active decades as they ascended to become the kings of modern heavy metal.
The production value on this is superb, and screams a luxurious quality that really is ‘Far Beyond Driven’.
I can only criticize one aspect, is that some of the splash size photos are lost with the natural pages end within the spine. I’d imagine, an oversight with the publishers when designing the layout, these photos surely looked fine in their original proof format. A minor oversight, but I’d of gladly paid a higher mark up on price for some of these larger photos to be of a fold out format. A minor niggle that doesn’t overly detract from the books enjoyment.
I’m overall really astounded at the overwhelming wealth of material here, and will be treasuring and enjoying this whilst playing the bands back catalogue for many, many years to come – S23
You can keep up to date with Pantera here:
… and stop by to check out more of Joe Giron’s work here: http://www.joegironphotography.com/