Far Beyond Driven is the seventh studio album by American heavy metal band Pantera, released on March 22, 1994 by EastWest Records. The album is Pantera’s fastest-selling album. The album peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and was certified Platinum by the RIAA. Also, the album was certified Platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association. Far Beyond Driven is the first album by Pantera where the band’s guitarist Darrell Abbott is credited as “Dimebag Darrell”, having changed his nickname from “Diamond Darrell” soon after Vulgar Display of Power was released. The Japanese and the Driven Downunder Tour ’94 Souvenir Collection editions contain a bonus thirteenth track, “The Badge”, a Poison Idea cover. This cover was also featured on The Crow soundtrack.
Strength Beyond Strength—-From the very second you hit play. you are pummeled by not only an aggressive vocal…but the band…seems so much larger and filled with an urgency that literally leaves you collapsed on the floor. Anselmo sounds possessed with his vocal….out of control and mad as hell. The energy is incredible….and scary!
Becoming—-Seeming to meld from one track right to the other, Anselmo sounds a bit more grounded with his vocal on this track. The vocal comes at you from every direction….sometimes pleasant as hell….other times seeming to be possessed by some demon we are not privy to. The band is so well in tune….it literally wraps itself around the vocal…fitting right in with the aggressive vocal.
5 Minutes Alone—-Never giving you a second to catch your breath. the band literally leaps from one song right into the other. Phil comes forward with his vocal…deep and smacking you right up side the head with a venom and anger that you can’t run from. The yells sometimes seem to come right from the center of his being…..just incredible.
I’m Broken—-Huge, fantastic power chords introduce the track. The drums are just incredible. Phil has a bit of a double track vocal…it gives the song a very full feel…but wonder how it played live. The vocal delivery is just incredible…full of venom and anger…desperation and a slight pleading underneath it all. This is heavy…intense and full of a darkness even the bright guitars can’t escape from.
Good Friends And A Bottle Of Pills—-What an incredible bass line intro!!!! And the effects of the song leave you a bit off kilter and wondering what the hell is going on. The vocal enters with a spoken word filth that leaves you a bit removed from the intensity of the previous tracks. This is a literal noise fest that i really never gelled with.This is just pure noise with no structure.
Hard lines, Sunken Cheeks—-Again. a nice fuzzy bass line introduces the song but is joined by the brightness of the guitars. The drums are smack in the center of your forehead as the plodding intro seems to last forever. Then Phil burst forward spitting lines after lines of venom. The drums remain right there though…so in your face you almost get whiplash. I can take or leave the vocal…but the band and their performance…..is on point!
Slaughtered—-Huge blasts of guitars serve as the introduction to this track. Anselmo, again delivers a vocal that differs so little from other songs it all begins to sound the same. It is the magic that the band has that makes this listenable for me. The drums are stellar…the guitars come at you like machine guns. The voice is just fuzz in the whole affair…..I have never heard the band sound better.
25 Years—-Clearer and with a friendlier sound at the onset of the song, the band is in such great form…right sown to the cow bell in the back drop of the song. When the deep bass elements of the song come into play it is like listening to early Sabbath on speed. The noise and the wall of sound wraps around your head and just squeezes. This is fantastic.
Shedding Skin—-Again with the incredible drum and bass line at the onset of the track. Everything seems to fall away to introduce an odd vocal beginning…but the band comes back alive…as dos the vocal. Lines seem to overlap lines….and the song is really one of the most accessible tracks on this release…aggressive but rather listenable…giving some substance and showing how ell practiced the band is.
Use My Third Arm—-Really aggressive….both lyrically and vocally…the bass line is played so incredibly fast and the drums come at you right out of the best Death bands. The vocal…I can take or leave…Phil wears me out after awhile…not like many of the Hardcore bands I like. There is just so little variance in his delivery…it is like one huge long song from him. it is the mastery of the band that makes this release tolerable for me….these are great musicians.
Throes Of Rejection—-The rhythm section leads the song off right from the very onset……giving everything a dark and ominous tone. Even the strong clear lines of guitars never take away from the deeper tones of the song. The band is literally magnificent on this release…Phil just seems to appear and scream for the most part. I could listen to a instrumental version of this release forever.
Planet Caravan—-Delivered with a musical finesse that leaves me in awe, even the vocal is rather acceptable. I’m amazed at this cover…one of the best I have heard. This closing track leaves me with a much better taste in my mouth than did most of the release. It just seemed to me…that most of this recording found Phil out of control…the band was tight as hell…but he was everywhere else.
***3/4 out of 5