Given that the band is back on the road for the first time in over two decades, we decided it was about time to rank Pantera albums!
As always, this ranking of Pantera albums from worst to best is our personal opinion; we are ranking these albums in this order considering the quality of each individual record, as well as those records that define the band.
And for the sake of this Pantera album ranking, we are also including the records from the band’s glam metal days! So without further ado, here is our ranking of Pantera albums from worst to best!
9. Metal Magic
Released in 1983 and featuring original band vocalist Terry Glaze, Metal Magic is the first Pantera album. The late Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, along with Rex Brown, offer a much different Pantera here than what the band would become known for; embracing the style and flair of glam metal, Metal Magic is the farthest thing from something like Cowboys from Hell.
With that said, when compared to other releases in glam and hair metal at the time, Metal Magic is fine. Nothing about it is really that jaw-dropping or interesting – it’s a serviceable experience for anyone looking for thrills.
8. I am the Night
I am the Night came out two years after Metal Magic, and while it does feature more interesting uses of technical instrumentation, it also features the band in a slump of sorts. Whereas Projects in the Jungle provides a boost in production quality and more exciting instrumentation (as compared to Metal Magic), I am the Night does nothing new, nor does it build upon what the band has done so far.
7. Projects in the Jungle
As the second Pantera album to be released, Projects in the Jungle makes for a nice boost in technical performance (while also providing more of a thrill to the band’s established glam metal sound). Considering the Pantera albums to come out during the band’s glam days, this is easily the second-strongest release (of those glam records).
6. Reinventing the Steel
The last Pantera album was released in 2000, and while it features the band’s thrilling instrumentation, it lacks the creativity and excitement that previous Pantera albums provide. There are some amazing bangers on here of course, but as a whole experience, Reinventing the Steel is missing a level of aggression and intricate technicality that sounded fresher in previous releases.
5. Power Metal
The strongest Pantera album from the band’s glam metal days is Power Metal, hich was also the first Pantera album to feature Phil Anselmo as band vocalist. There are a couple of things that set Power Metal apart from the band’s previous releases; for one, this is by far the most polished version of the band’s glam metal stylization.
Second, while the band is still invested in its established sound, you can start to hear a shift in their performance and style. Dime, Vinnie, and Rex have always been good musicians, but up until this point, they’ve sounded restrained some. With Power Metal, each member is let loose and provides much more compelling and interesting performances. Frankly, the quality of this Pantera album is so impressive, it could have been possible for the band to have continued while embracing the hair metal stylization.
4. Cowboys from Hell
Released in 1990, Cowboys from Hell is the Pantera album that changed the game for the band; compared to where the band started in the ’80s, the band became a whole other beast with this release. Introducing a powerful sense of groove alongside uses of melody, Pantera delivers a kick-ass time that still holds up to this day.
3. The Great Southern Trendkill
The Great Southern Trendkill pulls many sonic qualities heard off past Pantera albums and throws them together into one experience. At times, it feels as if Pantera is trying to throw too much at the audience; while the plethora of style and performance is applaud-worthy and appreciated, there is a lot to juggle here (which in turn hurts the flow of the overall record experience). That said, it still stands as one of the most interesting works that the band has ever made.
2. Far Beyond Driven
Honestly, Far Beyond Driven could almost be first place in some cases for the best Pantera album. Coming off of Vulgar Display of Power, Far Beyond Driven offers an even gritter presentation, doubling down on an abrasive attitude. It is a thrilling experience from the get-go, and perfect for any metalhead who wants to just dive into an explosive sonic venture.
The thing is, one of the great qualities about Pantera is how they can take such aggression and make it catchy. That does take place on this record without a doubt, but, it comes across as more restrained. While we are big fans of how heavy Far Beyond Driven is, it doesn’t grip us as much as our number-one pick.
And at this point, you are more than likely aware of what our number one pick is for the best Pantera album is…
1. Vulgar Display of Power
Celebrating its 30th anniversary as of 2022, Vulgar Display of Power is not only our pick for the best Pantera album, but we also consider it one of the greatest metal records ever made. Coming off of Cowboys from Hell, Vulgar Display of Power offers such fucking incredible heaviness and attitude – this is metal you can feel.
Even all these years after its release, this Pantera album still exudes tremendous grit and abrasive adrenaline. Pulse-pounding from beginning to end, packed with bangers, and displaying dynamic instrumental performances, this is easily the band’s most impressive work to date.
What do you think of our Pantera album ranking? How does it compare to your ranking? What is your favorite Pantera album?