Pantera - Far Beyond Driven (1994)Release ID: 2877

Pantera - Far Beyond Driven (1994) Cover
Ben Ben / May 03, 2019 / Comments 0 / 1

Inconsistent, frustrating album with several Pantera classics.

I've always considered Far Beyond Driven to be the album where Pantera started their decline. Both Cowboys from Hell and Vulgar Display of Power had spent a massive amount of time in my CD player back in the early 90s and I distinctly remember being somewhat disappointed with this release. The band had just become huge and this is without a doubt the album that would push the band into the mainstream, so perhaps there was an element of individualism that was important to this particular teenager that had been lost with all the hype. I say this in hindsight now, because going back to this album all these years later, I have to say that it's not bad at all. It's still not close to the previously mentioned albums due to its inconsistency, but there's enough pure adrenalin and entertainment on Far Beyond Driven to make it worth checking out.

All the typical Pantera ingredients are in place, with Anselmo's staggeringly brutal vocals, Dimebag's unique squeals and combination of chunky and shredding riffs, Rex's tasty bass grooves and Vinnie's non-technical yet crushingly powerful drumming style. The difference between this album and the previous classics is the unwanted and unconvincing experimentation that the band added and the previously mentioned inconsistency in quality. The first 4 tracks are damn entertaining and at this stage the album more than meets my expectations of a great Pantera album. But Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills is frickin’ awful. It would be bad enough with the sleazy, bassy sections that stand out dramatically from the rest of the album, but then the high feedback, screaming motherfucker sections have me reaching for the skip button faster than you can say "get off the drugs". Hard Lines, Sunken Cheeks is reasonable enough, but way overlong at 7 odd minutes.

The rest of the album continues with this hit and miss quality. Use My Third Arm is one of the highlights of the album in my opinion and Slaughtered, Shredding Skin and Throes of Rejection are all decent enough, but 25 Years takes too long to get anywhere and Planet Caravan is an ill chosen Black Sabbath cover to finish the album on a complete low point. All in all, I have to say that Far Beyond Driven has enough going for it to have a place in any Pantera fans collection, but it's a frustrating experience worth having only once you've played their more acclaimed albums to death (as I have). Highlights for me are Becoming, 5 Minutes Alone and Use My Third Arm.

MartinDavey87 MartinDavey87 / February 14, 2023 / Comments 0 / 0

‘Far Beyond Driven’ is the seventh studio album by groove metal band Pantera, and the third since their unofficial rebirth, having shed their 80’s glam days. It’s weird to me, however, that while the band were one of the most influential metal groups of the 90’s, and this release reached the number one spot on the Billboard charts, it’s really a fairly average release, and is brimming with subpar material.

The most notable difference with ‘Far Beyond Driven’ over its predecessors is the absolute brutality of the record. It’s by far heavier than anything the Texans had put out prior. But sadly this comes at a great cost, as most of the songs are incredibly lacklustre. While the album starts off promisingly enough, it very quickly becomes a rather repetitive affair, with most songs sounding like a bunch of riffs incoherently thrown together.

The production itself leaves much to be desired, with particular mention going to the drums, which at times sound programmed in. Phil Anselmo’s choice of screaming and shouting over singing has certainly upped the aggression of the album, but does nothing for me. The only real highlight is guitarist Dimebag Darrell, whos influential guitar playing has garnered endless acclaim, however, even here, it feels slightly by the numbers.

‘Strength Beyond Strength’, ‘Five Minutes Alone’ and ‘I’m Broken’ are all decent enough tracks, and a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Planet Caravan’ actually works really well for the band (I’m not a fan of the original, but this one is pretty good). But overall however, none of these songs are all that memorable to me, and certainly don’t hold up well to the bands previous two releases.

It’s not the worst album I own, but for all the praise it received, it certainly doesn’t live up to the hype. Oh, and the song ‘Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills’ is an absolute abomination.

Daniel Daniel / September 01, 2022 / Comments 0 / 0

I count myself lucky to have been one of the privileged few that picked up on the whole Pantera groove metal phenomenon very shortly after its conception & subsequently had the pleasure of watching them develop & go from strength to strength over a number of years. I wasn’t in any way aware of Pantera during their 80’s heavy/glam metal days but their important 1990’s “Cowboys From Hell” album had already been pleasuring my ears for a good 18 months by the time they completely realigned the global metal scene with their career-defining 1992 sixth album “Vulgar Display of Power”. Despite my being firmly entrenched in the extreme metal scene at the time, it was absolutely impossible not to be impacted by the wave of euphoric adoration that seemed to engulf the band & that would only increase further with 1994’s hugely successful seventh full-length “Far Beyond Driven” which topped the charts in my home country of Australia. Everyone appeared to love it at the time (myself included) but it seems that time has seen it’s qualities down-played versus it’s two older siblings & I thought it was time I investigated why.

Let me start off by saying that there are a few elements that differentiate “Far Beyond Driven” from its highly praised predecessors. For starters, it’s the most focused of the three records in that Pantera had finely honed the groove metal style they were responsible for creating down to an easily identifiable sound & this album sees them thoroughly indulging in that by milking it for every last drop. In doing so we see legendary guitar virtuoso Dimebag Darrell coming up with some of the greatest groove metal riffs ever written but I think it’s fair to say that (unlike “Cowboys From Hell” & “Vulgar Display Of Power” which offered a bit more variety) you really do need to buy into the whole groove metal thing if you’re gonna dig “Far Beyond Driven”. The other major difference is that front man Phil Anselmo takes a consistently more guttural & aggressive hardcore-inspired vocal approach for the vast majority of the run time & in doing so leaves behind any semblance of his higher-register Rob Halford-impersonating singing voice. Neither of these things are negatives as such. They’re simply observations & if I’m honest I found the added focus on pure adrenaline & masculinity to be quite the drawcard at the time even though the public perception seems to have flipped a bit towards a feeling of super-macho posturing over the years.

The musicianship on “Far Beyond Driven” is outstanding & we really see the rhythm section of bassist Rex & drummer Vinny Paul setting the bar extremely high for the competition, particularly Vinny whose performance here is one of the highlights of the album as a whole. In fact, I think Pantera relied a lot less on Darrell’s amazing shredding by this stage & I don’t feel that the production places as strong a focus on him as a result. Instead Pantera come across as a well-oiled & finely-honed unit that know their sound extremely well & conduct themselves with complete professionalism. The production job does sound pretty dated with the rhythm guitar tone being very much of its time but this can easily be forgiven when you consider that Pantera were one of the primary instigators in changing the way we viewed guitar tones in general during that period. It’s very easy to be critical from an historical perspective but if we’re honest with ourselves none of us had a problem with it at the time.

The real difference between the first three Pantera groove metal outings is the quality of the song-writing though & there have been some sacrifices in their true-metal-at-all-costs mentality. Both “Cowboys From Hell” & “Vulgar Display of Power” were very consistent records with no genuinely weak tracks included & “Far Beyond Driven” is no different. What’s missing though are those few genuine metal classics that both of its predecessors contained as I don’t think I can say that any of its twelve tracks included qualify for that level of adoration. Instead we have twelve songs that range from pretty decent to very strong which amounts to a very rewarding listen, just not one that will see my life changing. That’s not to say that ANY of Pantera’s albums have changed my life terribly much as groove metal simply doesn’t appeal to me as much as it does to others but you know what I’m saying. In saying all that, I can’t say that I see “Far Beyond Driven” as sitting all that far behind its more readily celebrated peers. It’s still a very strong release with a lot of positives. I do think that some of its biggest tracks like “Five Minutes Alone” & “Becoming” are a bit overrated though. I’d also suggest that some of the tracks in the middle of the album that are generally regarded as being a bit weaker are actually very good with the two-song run of unusual change-up track “Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills” & the weightier “Hard Lines, Sunken Cheeks” being a fine example of that. Even the ill-placed cover version of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” (the original being an all-time favourite of mine) is very well done even if it is too closely aligned with the original & seems a touch inferior in comparison. For me the highlights of the album sit with muscular groove metal outings like main single “I’m Broken”, super-masculine opener “Strength Beyond Strength” & the thrashy “Slaughtered” but (as I mentioned earlier) there’s not a clear line of delineation between the stronger & weaker inclusions as the quality band doesn’t stretch all that far.

Overall, I’d suggest that “Far Beyond Driven” showcases a band that were still at the peak of their powers & were content to focus purely on further amplifying the things that made them different from the rest of the market when they first broke into the scene in 1990. Was it successful in what it was trying to accomplish? Yeah I think it was for the most part. It’s not quite as strong as “Cowboys From Hell” or career highlight “Vulgar Display of Power” but the gap isn’t large enough to see me scoring it any differently so it’s another essential release for fans of Pantera or groove metal in general.

For fans of Exhorder, Lamb of God & Machine Head.


Release info

Release Site Rating

Ratings: 15 | Reviews: 3


Release Clan Rating

Ratings: 7 | Reviews: 2


Cover Site Rating

Ratings: 7


Cover Clan Rating

Ratings: 5

Far Beyond Driven
The Pit
Groove Metal

Groove Metal (conventional)

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