Heavier than a spoonful of star matter, Pantera’s third album makes one wonder how Judas Priest was ever considered dissonant. Guitarist Dimebag (formerly Diamond) Darrell sets an abrasive chug over which a rabid Phil Anselmo spews profane lyrics about sex and religion. (Singing is heard exactly once, on Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan.”) Pantera’s speed metal is not particularly fast: more pile driver than jackhammer, it’s just brutal.
“We’ve grown into a monster!” Anselmo grunts on “Strength Beyond Strength,” the bombastic first track. And Pantera has. Driven sold 186,000 copies its first week, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. For a band viable for its lack of viability, this may be a problem. Kids picked up on Pantera because they couldn’t gel it on MTV or the radio. Now that they can, Beavis and Butt-Head may withdraw their “Cool!” (East West)