Pantera – Cowboys From Hell (DELUXE EDITION) (CD review)

Pantera – Cowboys From Hell (Deluxe Edition) (Rhino) – CD review 

Alright Metal Heads, the much-anticipated Cowboys from Hell 20th Anniversary Box is out now, and they’ve expanded this landmark record to a whopping three discs.

Disc one features a nicely remastered version of the original Cowboys from Hell (Atco,1990). It’s a must-have in any collection, and modern technology has made it that much better. It’s almost like putting some new shoe strings on your favorite pair of concert shit kickers, or, in this case, putting a fresh sharp edge on your favorite machete.On disc two, we get a listen to live shows from the era of Cowboys. I jammed out to tracks 1-7 recorded in L.A. in 1990 and was completely rocked.

But tracks 8-12 recorded at the 1991 Monsters in Moscow show blew my mind. These tracks have the sonic power near-rivaling Kiss’ “Alive” (Casablanca, 1975), and as good or better than Iron Maiden’s “Live After Death” (Capitol, 1986). I don’t say that lightly and I listened to those recordings on album and tape until they wore out. Be careful not to blow out the speakers in your car and watch your speed because you will press the gas petal just a little harder when you plug this in.

On Disc three, we get to listen to the band’s demos, and they were tight. Most of the Cowboys album was in place on the demo tape. Popping that one in made me feel like a big shot record exec getting an unsigned band’s tape. Very cool. I can’t imagine anyone passing on that one. Anyone who did is kicking themselves now.

If all that isn’t enough to make you snatch this up, the set also contains the Holy Grail for Pantera fans: an unreleased song from the Cowboys recording sessions called “The Will To Survive,” which totally kicks ass and kinda shows where Pantera came from.  In this age of metal pretenders, Pantera is sorely missed.  But, this new collection gives us something fresh to listen to from the real metal pioneers.  If you haven’t ordered yet or are looking for the perfect holiday gift, this is sure to satisfy.  — James McCann