10 Best Pantera Songs
Choosing the 10 best Pantera songs is no easy feat, since there are so many good ones, full of power grooves that incite moshpits; resonant rhythms that could rattle your teeth loose from your gums; and drill sergeant vocals. Those were the sonic hallmarks of Pantera, without question one of the most important metal bands of the ’90s and of the genre overall. The Texas quartet fused equal parts chest-puffing brawn and bravado, but make no mistake: Philip Anselmo, Dimebag Darrell, Vinnie Paul and Rex Brown infused the testosterone-driven mix with pure heart. Metal fans banged their heads furiously until their necks ached, thanks to those pummeling power grooves and Anselmo’s militaristic delivery. But Pantera’s music made you think at the same time. Their catalog is littered with some of the most memorable riffs of all time, and lyrical declarations that have been tattooed on bodies and were screamed back at them at live shows. So without further adieu, here is our list of the 10 best songs by Pantera:
‘Reinventing the Steel’ would turn out to be the band’s final album, unbeknownst to both them and their fans. Still, Pantera did what they do best, and that’s fire off a crackling, groove-driven, riffy song with ‘Goddam Electric.’ The chunky riff, paired with Anselmo barking, “Don’t waste your time / Embrace it,” represented a late period, yet still clear-cut, example of the band’s anthemic prowess.
‘5 Minutes Alone’
This ‘Far Beyond Driven’ jam is another textbook slab of Pantera groove. Since the Texas titans were following up a monster of an album in the form ‘Vulgar Display Power,’ they knew they had to come hard on the follow-up and they did just that with ‘5 Minutes Alone.’ It’s brutal enough to have you headbang until you give yourself a concussion.
‘Suicide Note Pt. I’ and ‘II’
We know it’s two songs, but they can’t exist without each other. One is soulful; the other, savage. ‘Suicide Note Pt. I’ was the most experimental Pantera song ever, swapping guitar distortion in favor of a 12-string acoustic axe. Anselmo delivered the intensely personal lyrics in a liquor-ravaged, spoken word style so haunting that it leaves you with gooseflesh. ‘Pt. II’ was its foil: loud, nasty and almost punk rock from start to finish, showcasing the noisy and extreme turn the band took with ‘The Great Southern Trendkill.’
This is both a quintessential power ballad and a heavy metal love song. There aren’t many of “those” out there, and even if there were, few are as heartfelt or enduring as this. The song should (and could) serve as the songwriting template for aggressive or heavy metal bands that want to show their emotional sides. Anselmo was able to mesh clean singing with his signature screams without ever sacrificing intensity. No. More. Head. Trips. ‘This Love’ was also a song that earned the band a rash of female fans.
Pantera’s power grooves were always part and parcel of their sound, but they truly perfected that style with the muscular, extra-meaty ‘Becoming.’ At this point in their career, they had truly become godsized and Dimebag’s guitar tone was distinct as DNA. Anselmo gets personal yet again, singing about becoming a man, an experience that many Pantera fans had gone through, making it one of the best Pantera songs.
‘Mouth for War’
What a helluva way to kick off an album, with a boot-to-the-throat drumbeat. When Anselmo sang, “I’ve moved mountains with less / When I channel my hate to productive / I don’t find it hard to impress,” it became the philosophy and the rallying cry not of a generation, but of a genre. Pantera’s flawless execution of speed fused with groove is evident in every note of ‘Mouth for War.’ Revenge never sounded so good.
Pantera’s penchant for power ballads –- and not to mention, Anselmo’s ability to hit the high notes — is on full display with this classic-sounding heavy metal song. The band was able to show us a sensitive side. But make no mistake – it was never, ever soft. More traditional influences like Judas Priest were discernible on ‘Cemetery Gates’ and it remains a fan favorite off ‘Cowboys From Hell.’
Anthems are Pantera’s bread and butter, perhaps none more so than ‘F—ing Hostile.’ Anselmo’s — that’s Mr. Anselmo to you — aforementioned, militaristic, drill-sergeant bark asserted itself as the voice of a metal generation here, but it was more than mindless, testosterone-driven fury. There was a head and a heart. This ‘VDOP’ fave operates off a punk-rock battery and is one of the band’s fastest; that’s why it made our list of Top 10 Pantera Songs.
The thunderous power groove that comes at the end of the song is the second most notable riff of the band’s catalog — you KNOW the first! But if this doesn’t get your fist pumping, your testosterone coursing and that head banging so hard you break blood vessels in your neck, nothing else will. The simple production and that riff that kicks in at around 3:50 will get any Pantera fan off their butt and grooving.
Was there ever any doubt about what would be No. 1 on our list? The recurring riff is not only the most definitive of the entire, expansive Pantera catalog, but it’s also inarguably one of the Top 5 metal riffs of all time. It embodies the entire essence of Pantera (described in each previous entry on this list) in the space of five minutes and that’s why it leads our 10 Best Pantera Songs list. In essence, we pay our “Re-spect” to it. Walk on home, boy.