Nate Garrett is the singer, guitarist and bandleader of Spirit Adrift. The groups' most recent release is 2021's Forge Your Future EP.
Vulgar Display of Power was a pivotal, monumental album in my early teenage life, and it still is. It's jam-packed with some of the greatest riffs and lead guitar playing in the history of the metal genre, so it's hard to narrow this down to just five moments. For the record, every single guitar solo could qualify, but I'm focusing a little more on riffs and songwriting. These are my favorite Dimebag Darrell moments from Vulgar Display of Power, in order of appearance.
Dimebag's greatest and most unique quality was his ability to combine the country/Southern rock that was a constant in his young life (his father was a country music producer) with the classic heavy-metal thunder he would grow up to master. This riff is an example of that. Equal parts Van Halen and ZZ Top, the rhythm guitar part here is just as impressive as the blistering solo. A lot of folks water down their riffs when a solo is happening, but not Dime.
Again, Dimebag thrives in that balance between the aggression of thrash metal and the honky-tonk swing of Southern rock. It's a major flex to come up with a riff this great and only play it four times, never to be heard again. It's absurd how much confidence it takes to write something that's way better than what most people are ever able to come up with, then only play it a few times. It reminds me of how Randy Rhoads plays the best riff on the entire Diary of a Madman album only three times. Always best to leave them wanting more.
This might be my favorite Dimebag riff. Speaks for itself.
Another contender for my favorite Dimebag riff. Also speaks for itself.
Everyone knows Pantera could crank out some of the heaviest and most abrasive music cut to tape. But what these guys still don't get enough credit for is their ability to craft an honest-to-god song, full of dynamics and nuance. "Cemetery Gates," "This Love" and "Floods" seem to get the most attention in this field, but "Hollow" has always been my favorite. I studied this song obsessively when I first discovered Vulgar Display of Power. It is a masterclass in songcraft — writing and arranging a memorable song full of melody, emotion and a massive climax. The maturity on display here is well beyond the ages of the guys who wrote it. Brilliant, timeless stuff.
Everything Dimebag does on this track is masterful. The clean guitar licks with that beautiful Roland Jazz Chorus tone, the soaring guitar harmonies, the perfectly concise guitar solo and all the variations on that brutal mosh riff. Those are the types of things that cement Dimebag as the best to ever do it. I'm thrilled that I finally got to channel my obsession with this track into Spirit Adrift's own take, which you'll all be hearing soon.