Pantera’s “Far Beyond Driven” album, released in 1994, remains a seminal and pivotal work in the world of heavy metal music.
The album showcased Pantera at their then-most extreme, offering a relentless, abrasive, and unapologetically savage sound that solidified their place as one of the most influential metal bands of the time (and decades later, of all time).
The album’s boldness was evident not only in its music but also in its cover art, depicting a metal drill penetrating a human skull, setting the tone for the ferocity that awaited the listeners within. Funny enough, this album art was actually the “Disney-rated” version that the label would let them release. Originally (and later unveiled via a post-humous vinyl repress), the album art was a drill bit going straight into someone’s, well, asshole.
“Far Beyond Driven” showcased the band’s musical prowess and innovation, incorporating elements from thrash, groove, and sludge metal, and somehow made their already classic previous LP “Vulgar Display of Power” sound shockingly tame in comparison.
The album of course made history by becoming the first extreme metal record to top the US Billboard Chart, proving that heavy music could command mainstream success while retaining its uncompromising nature.
The success caught the entire music industry off guard, as it blocked then red-hot pop/rock/blues legend Bonnie Raitt out of the #1 spot. It also out-charted Ace of Base (who for context at the time were one of the biggest pop acts in the world).
While (to be fair), albums from R. Kelly, Celine Dion, and Mariah Carey had been out for multiple weeks at this point, Pantera still technically dethroned them during the week of April 9, 1994, at a time when all of these artists were essentially the biggest pop acts going.
“Far Beyond Driven’s” impact on fans and the metal community was profound, and even decades later, it continues to resonate with listeners, solidifying its status as a classic in the genre. It’s been a long time since such an extreme and ferocious album stormed to the top of the mainstream album charts. Slipknot’s “Iowa” came pretty damn close in the early 2000s, but to our knowledge, ‘ol Far Beyond is still the most brutal and extreme album to ever chart at #1 on the overall sales charts. Long live, Pantera.