25 Greatest Pantera Songs | Revolver

25 Greatest Pantera Songs

From "Cemetery Gates" to "Goddamn Electric" and beyond
pantera 1991 monsters of rock GIRON, Joe Giron
photograph by Joe Giron

Revolver has teamed with Pantera for exclusive colored vinyl pressings of the band's classic albums plus a new Pantera collector's issue. Quantities are extremely limited — get yours before they're gone!

Of all the hard-rock and metal bands who dominated the Nineties — from grunge hitmakers, alternative rockers and industrialists to underground thrashers and old-school pioneers — Pantera just might be the decade's greatest triumph.

The Arlington, Texas, group had been in existence for most of the Eighties before settling on the classic lineup — vocalist Philip Anselmo, guitarist Dimebag Darrell, drummer Vinnie Paul and bassist Rex Brown — and the distinct power-groove style that would take them to new heights in the Nineties. It was during that decade that Pantera produced a truly incomparable five-album run: Cowboys From Hell (1990), Vulgar Display of Power (1992), Far Beyond Driven (1994), The Great Southern Trendkill (1996) and Reinventing the Steel (2000).

Celebrating the band's 25 greatest moments from that era is the easy part — the hard part is acknowledging that Pantera, primarily due to the tragic deaths of founding brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, will never again play live and never again record new music.

Fortunately, the vast Pantera catalog — the music that made the group one of the most important and exciting metal acts of all time — will live forever. From that extensive archive of material, we present to you our picks for the 25 greatest Pantera songs of all time.

25. "Goddamn Electric"

Reinventing the Steel (2000)
If ever there was a band that understood that we're here only for a short time and that life should be lived to its fullest extent, it was Pantera. And if ever there was a song that embraced this ideology, it was "Goddamn Electric," the second track on Reinventing the Steel. As Anselmo roars at the top of the song, he's "found the secret of eternal youth," which in this case happens to be "whisky, weed and Black Sabbath." By the second chorus, Anselmo adds Slayer to the list — which is fitting because "Goddamn Electric" also features a wicked Whammy-laced guest solo spot courtesy of Kerry King himself.

24. "Floods"

The Great Southern Trendkill (1996)
This one probably deserves more recognition than it typically receives, at least from outside the hardcore Pantera community. Buried deep within The Great Southern Trendkill, "Floods" might just be Pantera's crowning achievement in terms of range. It's Vantablack dark — at times haunting and delicate, other times crushing as fuck with a Soundgarden vibe. Plus, it features what many consider to be Dimebag's most glorious solo. The weepy, atmospheric outro that comes creeping out of the distance is the final stamp on a track that qualifies as a true epic, a journey in every sense of the word.

23. "Rise"

Vulgar Display of Power (1992)
"Rise" may not be among Pantera's most high-profile songs — but that doesn't make it any less of a near-perfect moment smack-dab in the middle of the group's ultimate album, Vulgar Display of Power. It's got speed, a killer Helmet-y, industrial-strength main riff and jackhammer intensity that never lets up. It all adds up to "Rise" being good, thrashy, fist-raising fun that'll make you want to stomp on a few throats.

22. "It Makes Them Disappear"

Reinventing the Steel
In much the same way that Black Sabbath had moments of extreme heaviness that exceeded the group's typical, everyday heaviness ("Under the Sun," "Cornucopia"), Pantera has "It Makes Them Disappear" — arguably the most pulverizing tune in the band's catalog. The penultimate track on Reinventing the Steel sees the band boasting its doom-metal skills, with a massive wrecking ball of a downtuned Dimebag riff, hypnotically monolithic rhythm work from Vinnie Paul and bassist Rex Brown, and Anselmo's raw, anguished voice as he rails against the horrors of substance abuse.

21. "Shedding Skin"

Far Beyond Driven (1994)
You know you're on Anselmo's bad side when he writes a song about you that features such lyrics as "I throw you away. Everyday. A dead part of life." Ouch — but that's the essence of "Shedding Skin," a Far Beyond Driven brain-basher that sees the singer verbally skewering an old flame (his father had been the recipient of a similarly cathartic attack on the album's previous track, "25 Years"). Musically, it's a bit of an awkward, even disjointed number in which the instruments all seem to be fighting against each other as they shift from section to section — but there's no denying that "Shedding Skin" bites hard.

20. "War Nerve"

The Great Southern Trendkill
By the time of The Great Southern Trendkill, Pantera had made few friends in the mainstream media — and "War Nerve," the album's second track, was Anselmo's vicious, spitting response. "For every fucking second the pathetic media pisses on me … look here … fuck you all." Not exactly poetry, but point taken. Interestingly, "War Nerve" is a rare Pantera song in that it doesn't include a Dimebag solo — but perhaps a CNN hatchet job doesn't require one.

19. "25 Years"

Far Beyond Driven
This is the ugly side of Pantera. "25 Years," a deep Far Beyond Driven track, grinds along at a slow, torturous pace and relies almost entirely on a chugging, disharmonious, one-note Dimebag riff. The monotonous, no-fucks-given guitar work perfectly complements Anselmo's scathing, venomous lyrical attack on his own father, culminating in a song that makes you want to crawl into a hole and die.

18. "Strength Beyond Strength"

Far Beyond Driven
The drill-through-the-skull image on the cover of Far Beyond Driven pretty much sums up the vibe of "Strength Beyond Strength," the album's blistering opening cut. It's the perfect amalgam of thrash metal and hardcore punk and Pantera's combat-boot-to-the-head way of saying that — even after the success of Cowboys From Hell and Vulgar Display of Power (and the increased maturity the band displayed on the latter) — there would be no compromise, watering down, selling out or softening around the edges.

17. "Yesterday Don't Mean Shit"

Reinventing the Steel
Its release date may have been in 2000, but "Yesterday Don't Mean Shit" — the ultimate don't-look-back anthem — could probably serve as a signature song for 2021 and a reminder for people to continue looking, and moving, forward. Musically, the track is an unsubtle, spit-fueled grinder with a message that repeatedly hammers you over the head — by the end of the song, you won't have any doubt that yesterday didn't mean zilch.

16. "Shattered"

Cowboys From Hell (1990)
Pantera's music is known to cause many different bodily reactions in listeners — mostly of the violent and punishing variety. It's rare that a Pantera song will simply leave you smiling, but this one does it every time. "Shattered," a Judas Priest-esque battering-ram of a track snug in the middle of Cowboys From Hell, is explosive heavy-metal fun from start to finish.

15. "I'm Broken"

Far Beyond Driven
If Far Beyond Driven had more tracks on the level of "I'm Broken," particularly in its second half, the record might have even topped its unfuckwithable predecessor Vulgar Display of Power. As it stands, "I'm Broken" is the final act in the three-song hat trick (which includes "Becoming" and "5 Minutes Alone") near the top of the album and also the last of the true standout moments on Far Beyond Driven. That opening riff alone is the stuff of legend, and the song as a whole hasn't lost an ounce of its fist-pumping, foot-stomping, neck-breaking power even after 27 years.

14. "Mouth for War"

Vulgar Display of Power
As the opening track on Vulgar Display of Power and the album's first single, "Mouth for War" was a clear and immediate indication that the magnificence of Cowboys From Hell two years earlier was no fluke. Pantera had returned. And "Mouth for War," a mid-paced melting pot of grinding riffs, assault-rifle drum beats and sandblasted vocals, was the group's way of telling all others to move aside — the new guard had arrived.

13. "The Art of Shredding"

Cowboys From Hell
Consider this Pantera's "Damage, Inc." — a classic thrash-metal barn burner that closes out a breakthrough album in spectacular fashion. There's nothing terribly deep or dynamic going on with "The Art of Shredding" — as the title suggests, this is Pantera proving that they could rip and tear along with Metallica, Overkill, Exodus, Slayer and other Eighties speed-metal kings.

12. "Domination"

Cowboys From Hell
If any band knew how to write songs designed to transform live audiences into possessed, zombie-like headbangers and moshers willing to snap their own necks in appreciation, it was Pantera. This band excelled in a concert setting and quickly earned a reputation for being one of the most devastating live acts of the Nineties. Part of the reason for that were songs like "Domination," a frantic Cowboys cut that featured a gargantuan breakdown in the final minute that was clearly intended to tear down the house.

11. "Becoming"

Far Beyond Driven
Similar to "Walk" in its militaristic, march-or-die vibe, "Becoming," the second track on Far Beyond Driven, is three minutes of pure power and aggression propelled primarily by Vinnie Paul's rapid-fire double-kick rumble and Dimebag's deranged Whammy Pedal squeals that define the primary riff.

10. "5 Minutes Alone"

Far Beyond Driven
"5 Minutes Alone" is arguably the crown jewel of Far Beyond Driven and a classic Pantera groove-monster in every sense. According to Anselmo, the title is in reference to a comment made by the father of a young man who was heckling Pantera when they were opening for Megadeth. The young fan accused Anselmo of responding with violence, which spurred a lawsuit and a request from the father for "five minutes alone" with Anselmo to teach the singer a lesson. Pops is probably lucky he didn't get his wish.

9. "Message in Blood"

Cowboys From Hell
This scorching bit of ferociousness three-quarters deep into Cowboys From Hell is particularly notable as a showcase for drummer Vinnie Paul, who plays as if he's firing off machine-gun rounds for the duration of the five-plus minute track. Anselmo's vocals on the song are especially demented, which makes sense considering he used the 1969 Charles Manson murders as lyrical inspiration.

8. "Fucking Hostile"

Vulgar Display of Power
The relentless rager "Fucking Hostile" is Pantera doing its best Black Flag imitation — with a little Ministry and a dash of Slayer thrown in for good measure. Its placement on Vulgar is genius, too, as it follows the record's near-perfect opening triple-threat of "Mouth for War," "A New Level" and "Walk," and provides a brief detour into hardcore punk territory, before "This Love" comes along and delivers the album's knockout punch.

7. "Revolution Is My Name"

Reinventing the Steel
Pantera's final album, Reinventing the Steel, may not have found them the epitome of heavy-metal cohesiveness that they were 10 years before, but it still boasted a few standout moments, among them "Revolution Is My Name." With its multiple tempo shifts and rhythmic changes the track nearly spins out of control at times, but it's held together beautifully by some of Dimebag's most wickedly effective guitar work on record, particularly the chugging riff that serves as the backbone of the song.

6. "Drag the Waters"

The Great Southern Trendkill
By the time Pantera began recording The Great Southern Trendkill tensions within the band had escalated so severely that Anselmo decided to record his vocals in New Orleans (at Nine Inch Nails main man Trent Reznor's Nothing Studios), while the rest of the guys tracked the music back in Texas. Structurally, Trendill's "Drag the Waters" is a fairly straightforward song. But Anselmo's seething performance and Dime and Co.'s beautifully ugly grooves perfectly embody the behind-the-scenes turmoil — and result in a dirty, swampy track that distinguishes itself from Pantera's most celebrated tracks.

5. "Walk"

Vulgar Display of Power
Pantera could thrash, grind and shred with the best of 'em — but few bands could groove like the Cowboys from Hell. "Walk," from Vulgar Display of Power, is the epitome of Pantera's power-grooving goodness. With its singular, swaggering riff and military-style cadence, "Walk" is among the simplest of Pantera tracks but also the ultimate metal marching song.

4. "Cemetery Gates"

Cowboys From Hell
The pantheon of epic metal songs — which features "War Pigs," "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and "One," among many others — wouldn't be complete without "Cemetery Gates." The fifth track from Cowboys From Hell showed the world that Pantera had range and depth of songwriting, not otherwise indicated by the album's four preceding tracks. "Cemetery Gates" reigned as the definitive Nineties-metal power ballad — at least until "This Love" came along two years later.

3. "Cowboys From Hell"

Cowboys From Hell
Sure, everyone knows that Pantera existed well before 1990 — but for the majority of the metal population, this was the track that started it all. The song's razor-sharp primary riff signaled the arrival of a new guitar hero in Dimebag Darrell and Anselmo's guttural "we're taking over this town" refrain quickly became a truism as Pantera ushered in the Nineties in dominating fashion. Interestingly, once recording of Cowboys From Hell was completed, the band members contemplated shelving the title-track because they felt that it was too commercial and not in keeping with the rest of the album's harder, thrashier material. Credit the band's manager at the time, Walter O'Brien, for convincing them to leave what he knew to be their signature song in its rightful place.

2. "A New Level"

Vulgar Display of Power
Is there a more punishing intro in the Pantera catalog than the initial 30 seconds of "A New Level"? It's a thundering, plodding, shining example of brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul being in true lockstep with each other and sets up one of Pantera's all-time-great anthems, a rallying cry for the shit-on, pissed-on, spit-on and stepped-on metal masses.

1. "This Love"

Vulgar Display of Power
Pantera may have made a successful foray into power-ballad territory with Cowboys From Hell's "Cemetery Gates," but that was child's play compared to "This Love" — the epic centerpiece of Vulgar Display of Power and, in our estimation, the quintessential Pantera song. "This Love" starts out prettily enough with its clean-guitar intro and Phil Anselmo's sensitive-beast vocals, but quickly escalates into a devastating right hook to the face. By the track's squealing conclusion, you feel like the poor dude getting punched on the cover of the album. "With 'This Love,' I loved the idea of luring the audience into a whole false sense of security with the title and intro," Anselmo told Guitar World in 2015 about this emotional, skull-crushing track. "We lulled the listener and then let them have it."