On March 22, 1994, Pantera's seventh album, "Far Beyond Driven", was released.
So after we told you "The Rise of the Transformers of Metal",
Today it is the turn of the third episode in the series:
The Transformers of Metal !!! "Dark of the Moon".
As the blue cover of the album "Far Beyond Driven" reveals, the third episode of the series puts us under "Darkness of the Moon" - the period of the transition of "Metal Transformers" from light to darkness, which will begin on the next album, "The Great Southern Trendkill", when the band members could not even be in the same room together and will have to record it in two different studios. Read more about the beginning of the "Dark Ages" here:
After the meteoric rise of the "Transformers of Metal" (hereinafter also: "Pantera"), and after avenging the "Decepticons", the "Transformers of Metal" were unaware of the fact that the darkness of the moon was approaching.
Although they had a goal, to continue with all the power and strength shown on the previous album - "Vulgar Display of Power", something started to eat them from the inside.
The band members set the goal even before they wrote one song for the album. They had a name for an album meant to represent the direction they were going - "Far Beyond Driven". They intended to take the anger, power, and intensity from the previous album even further than they have done so far. They thought of shaking, shocking, sawing, and drilling into our brains, as the album cover reveals.
But then, Phil Anselmo's drug and alcohol problems got worse. He suffered a back injury and a herniated disc and began using hard drugs, alcohol, and painkillers on a regular basis to soothe the pain. He wrote the song "I'm Broken" about the pain he experienced while creating the album. He felt vulnerable and broken, and that was his cry for help.
The "Decepticons" (the record companies) did not give up either. They continued to put pressure on the "Transformers of Metal" to produce a more "friendly" album, similar to what "Metallica" did with "The Black Album".
Despite all this and against all odds, the "Transformers of Metal" managed to get out of the "darkness of the moon", overcome the crisis and produce their first album to reach number one on the Billboard 200. It was also their fastest-selling album and the heaviest album in history to reach #1 on the Billboard.
Transformer "X-Men" Darrell Lance Abbott changed his shape again. He began to grow a "goatee", switched to shorts and a sleeveless shirt, and wore a pendant of a razor blade as a homage to "Judas Priest" - the "blasters" bombers. He realized that the name "Diamond" could no longer fit his new appearance and so he adopted the name Dimebag Darrell.
The band changed their weapons, changed the tuning of their instruments, and lowered them in a tone and a half, to sound even heavier than the previous albums.
They opened the album with all their might and force, with an exploded sequence of songs. "Strength Beyond Strength" marking the rate of fire of the Transformers' and their unprecedented attack. Indeed they demonstrate here "Power Beyond Power", with the perfect Mosh Pitt song. Dimebag Darrell's sawing guitars, Phil Anselmo's roars, Rex Brown's fist bass and the two sledgehammers in Vinnie Paul's hands, simply did not leave the "Decepticons" any chance and it was already clear to them that in this battle they had lost.
But the arrows were pointed at the "Transformers of Metal" from other directions as well. The dominance of "Grunge" grew, the "alternative" established its status and the "Britpop" threatened to conquer America. These changes in the world music map have led bands like "Megadeth", "Anthrax" and "Slayer" to change their sound and write more accessible material. Even bands like "Sepultura" introduced additional motifs to metal, so Transformers had no choice but to react and forcefully. The song "Becoming" is the band's response to what was happening around them. With Vinnie Paul's crazy double bass bombardment and Dimebag Darrell's new whammy effect, the band announced to those around them that they are here, and they intend to stay in Metal and even take it to a more extreme place.
"5 Minutes Alone" completes the crazy opening sequence, with one of the band's greatest riffs. The song was written about a confrontation that occurred during the band's performance in San Diego, on the tour of the previous album. One of the front row fans teased Phil Anselmo, who in response sent the audience to beat him. That boy's father asked for "only 5 minutes" with Phil, of course, there was also a law suit in the background, and that was what led Phil to write the song.
After a streak of four excellent songs, the album takes a turn and the battle is no longer in full control of the "Transformers of Metal". We have to stop for a while for "injury time" with "Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills" - an obscure and experimental track, probably one of the dirtiest songs ever written, with repetitive of the F%$@ word. The Transformers lose their way in navigation, blabbering on and searching for themselves with "Hard Lines", "Sunken Cheeks" and it looks like another "25 Years" will pass before they find themselves. But the "Transformers of Metal" manage to pick themselves up and fight back a harsh war with tracks like "Slaughtered" that just slaughters everything around it and "Shedding Skin" that aimed to scalp the "Decepticons".
Towards the last and heroic battle "Pantera" manages to surpass itself with the amazing "Throes of Rejection", giving the Transformers victory, but at a great cost.
We say goodbye to the heroic warriors with "Planet Caravan" in the background - the excellent cover of "Black Sabbath" that leaves us in uncertainty about the sequel.
Although this album falls short of its predecessor, its historical significance has been immense. This is an album that kept the Metal embers burning during difficult times, when there was not enough combustible material around. It's the heaviest and most powerful album to reach number one on Billboard and it was a right-wing marker for everything the Metal world will create later. Despite all this, this album also marks for us the beginning of the end of this great band and it foretells what awaits the "Transformers of Metal" beyond the "Darkness of the Moon" ...