In honor of the recent 20th anniversary reissue of Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power, two music writers sat around a kitchen table and talked about it. One is clearly older than the other one.
Eric Grubbs: When that record came out in 1992, what do you remember, aside from grunge and Nirvana being big?
Darryl Smyers: Oh, I remember laughing about it when it came out because everyone called it groove metal. Even today, I laughed when I read that the album set the stage for Korn, so that means we should deduct three points from it already. I thought - going from Iggy Pop to Black Flag - all good music, whether punk rock or metal, supposedly had a groove to it. But Pantera's early stuff was pretty crappy and I don't think it had a groove to it. The big turnaround was when Phil [Anselmo, vocals] joined the band. By that album, they weren't afraid to do a ballad, and the ballad was a good one. That was '92; I was just coming back to Dallas from living overseas in Korea, so I was kinda late on Nirvana.
Since my wife went to high school with one of the guys in the band, I was like, "Oh no, not Pantera, aren't they some kind of metal cover band from Arlington?" So many little tidbits about the album are funny: It wasn't Dimebag Darrell, it was Diamond Darrell. That was the last album he was credited as Diamond Darrell. Another funny thing I had forgotten about was that the cover photo was some guy they paid $10 to get hit in the face and they had to pay him $300 because it took 30 punches to get the thing right. But I remember hearing the record and liking it more than anything else Pantera had done or since. That was easily the high point for them.