Pantera’s ‘Vulgar Display of Power’ Turns 23!

I will never forget the moment I heard Vulgar Display of Power. It was early March of 1992, I was 12 years old and in a locker room at Valley Sports Ice Arena in Concord, Mass. and had just come off a long hockey practice. Most people don’t know that before music and guitar playing became a serious part of my life, I was a very competitive athlete. I was one of three seventh graders who made the varsity hockey team (mostly comprised of 8th and 9th graders) in a very competitive league in Massachusetts. I played against countless players who would move onto division one colleges and several whom would end up in the NHL.

Now mind you, metal was not something extremely popular at all in my school. Granted the school was an all-boys, secondary, private school in the suburbs of Boston, packed full of testosterone and strict discipline. You would think of all that pubescent angst would help be alleviated by the heavy metal world, but it wasn’t. So, I pretty much was one of only a few people who even liked metal at all. The Metallica ‘Black’ album had become one of my first experiences into the metal world. Yes, I was 11, so sorry I didn’t have an older brother to turn me on to Master Of Puppets, but I was the oldest. Before I digress too much, let me refocus a bit more on the original topic. Metallica had been slowly wearing out on my tape and CD player, it was time to move onto something different, something heavier. To be honest, Hell Awaits had scared the shit out of me earlier that year. Slayer was the most evil band I had ever heard (I would grow to really like them but at this age, was not quite ready for them.)

There was one other kid on the hockey team who liked metal, he had long hair and was the Dean of Students’ son. I had never known he was a fan of metal, but we had always acknowledged each other’s taste in music. Heavy metal in many cases, is an outcast’s choice of music. I was definitely an outcast in school, even though I got along with everyone but had always walked my own path. After this aforementioned practice, we were in the locker room and he looked at me and said, “Hey Jeff, have you ever heard Pantera?” I shook my head, a little shy and nervous at the thought of prospectively being called out by one of the older kids (who was also the team captain.)

This guy then pulled out a boom box and proceeded to put on side ‘A’ of Vulgar and my mind was absolutely blown! When ‘Mouth for War’ hit the speakers, my jaw absolutely hit the floor. Pantera were the band that I had been waiting for my entire life. It just resonated with me so strongly and to this day, no record has had the impact on me that Vulgar Display of Power had. Its sound, playing and production still has the presence and relevance of today’s bands. Its constantly a gym favorite for me and definitely a high point for the band that was one of the most popular metal bands of the 1990’s. Anyone who knows me, knows that Dimebag Darrell is one of my biggest influences. Granted, I still struggle to play his riffs and some of the leads, but there are few records that I still listen to that make me as excited as this one.

One of the greatest bands ever to walk the earth and by far the best live band I have ever seen, Pantera left only incredible albums in their legacy for fans everywhere to cherish. This is them at their absolute finest moment, Happy 23rd birthday, Vulgar Display of Power!