Pantera Albums RANKED In Order of Heaviness

This isn’t a best list, nor is a list of Pantera’s albums ranked from best to worst; instead, it is a list of Pantera’s albums in terms of their heaviness – from the crushingly heavy to the downright-crazy-heavy…


Pantera is synonymous with metal. You cannot talk about metal music without mentioning them. Next to Metallica, Pantera is perhaps one of the most influential and beloved metal bands to ever walk the earth.

As a band, Pantera brought a level of aggression to metal that was sorely lacking in and around the early 1990s. But Pantera’s main USP was that it blended this aggression with groove – and the result was world domination.

All of Pantera’s albums – save for its non-Anselmo efforts – are exceptional. Each has its own magic and uniqueness, from the classic Cowboys From Hell to the okay-but-still-decent Reinventing The Steel. But when it comes to heaviness, there are some distinct milestones in Pantera’s back catalog, and that is what we’re focussing on today.

As noted above: THIS IS NOT A BEST PANTERA ALBUM LIST; instead, it is a ranking of Pantera’s albums in terms of their heaviness, with the top spot being reserved for Pantera’s heaviest album. If you’re new to Pantera, this list is designed to point you in the direction of its heaviest albums which aren’t necessarily its best.

Let’s do this…

What Is Pantera’s Heaviest Album?

HEAVIEST PANTERA ALBUMS

5. Reinventing The Steel

Reinventing The Steel was the last studio album Pantera released. The band wasn’t in a good place when they recorded it; Phil Anselmo didn’t even record his vocals with the band, preferring to do it by himself, away from Rex, Dime, and Vinnie Paul.

Pantera Albums RANKED In Order of Heaviness

As an album, Reinventing The Steel isn’t bad. It is just something of a mixed bag. It does have some killer tracks like Goddamn Electric, Revolution is My Name, and the awesome closing track I’ll Cast A Shadow but the album does lack the freshness and urgency of the band’s earlier work.

It is also worth noting that during the making of Reinventing The Steel, Phil Anselmo wasn’t really speaking with the rest of the band. In this respect, Anselmo was remote working on the album. He also wasn’t too happy with the material either, hence all of his side projects at the time.

Reinventing The Steel has its moments, but in the grand scheme of things, it is the least compelling and interesting album in Pantera’s back catalog. It is also the least heavy of any of the band’s albums, excluding its hair metal albums, of course.


4. Cowboys From Hell

Cowboys From Hell was the album that put Pantera on the map. It was an amazing album too, featuring end-to-end bangers like the title track, Cowboys From Hell, Domination, The Sleep, Cemetery Gates. And pretty much every single other track on the album.

Pantera Albums RANKED In Order of Heaviness

Released in 1990, Cowboys From Hell cemented Pantera as one of the heaviest metal bands in operation. The album doubled-down on Pantera’s then-new groove metal, throwing in face-melting solos, souring and crushing vocals, and a rock-solid rhythm section.

And Cowboys From Hell is a heavy album too, but it is not Pantera’s heaviest work. A lot of this is down to production. The album, while beautifully executed and performed, does lack the PUNCH of some of Pantera’s other records.

This isn’t to take away anything from Cowboys From Hell; for the most part, it is one of Pantera’s best and most consistent albums. I would always advise any new, potential fans to start their journey with Cowboys. But in terms of overall heaviness, it is only third on this list…


3. Far Beyond Driven

1994’s Far Beyond Driven is one of Pantera’s first “brutally” heavy albums. The sound of this record is enormous, thanks in no small part to Terry Date’s mastery of the dials in the studio. From the guitar tone to the snare drum, the sound engineering on this album is superb.

Pantera Albums RANKED In Order of Heaviness

Far Beyond Driven also has some belting tracks on it too; I’m Broken is one of Pantera’s best-known songs and for good reason too – it has groove, a killer riff that is as catchy as it is heavy, and killer vocals more or less across the board.

Far Beyond Driven represented a huge change in Pantera’s sound, largely for the better. Dime’s guitars sounded bigger than ever and the rhythm section, a huge part of Pantera’s sound never sounded better. Phil’s vocal performance on this album is also fantastic.

Far Beyond Driven was recorded in 1993 at Abtrax Recording, In Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. And as with nearly all of Pantera’s albums, Terry Date mixed and produced the album.

The band also worked collectively on this record during recording, unlike on Reinventing The Steel. Far Beyond Driven represents the last Pantera record when things were good between the members. After this album, spats and bickering began to plague the band.


2. Vulgar Display of Power

Arguably Pantera’s most popular album with fans, new and old, Vulgar Display of Power is a 52-minute tour de force of groove metal that perfectly sums up exactly what Pantera was all about.

Pantera Albums RANKED In Order of Heaviness

For many, Vulgar Display of Power is Pantera’s best work. It features zero filler and straight-up bangers across the board with tracks like This Love, Walk, and Mouth For War which has been fan-favorites ever since the album dropped in 1992.

Pantera wrote the majority of Vulgar Display of Power in the studio with Terry Date once again on producer detail. I think part of the reason this album is so good is that it was done at a time when Pantera was a perfectly oiled machine. No bullshit, no internal politics. Just four dudes working at the top of their game.

Steve Huey of AllMusic rated the album 4.5 out of 5 stars, describing it as “One of the most influential heavy metal albums of the 1990s” . Huey was bang on the money too; Vulgar is easily the most accessible, fun-yet-still-incredibly-heavy album in Pantera’s back catalog.

I’ve seen the band multiple times over the years and tracks from Vulgar ALWAYS get the crowd going the most. And that should tell you everything you need to know about Vulgar Display of Power.


1. The Great Southern Trendkill

All of Pantera’s albums are heavy. The heaviness is always laced with groove, though, which makes it more accessible, more engaging – it doesn’t just batter you over the head. It makes you nod your head.

Pantera Albums RANKED In Order of Heaviness

But when The Great Southern Trendkill dropped, Pantera did something different – they got dark. Dark and brooding. And the end result is a masterpiece that doesn’t get anywhere near the credit it deserves.

The Great Southern Trendkill is the heaviest, most brutal Pantera album by a considerable margin. From the lyrical content to the overall tone and feel of the album, everything about The Great Southern Trendkill is heavy, nasty, and cuts straight to the bone.

Really, the entire tone of the album is set by the first track, The Great Southern Trendkill, which is one of the heaviest songs ever recorded by the band. But amidst all the nastiness, there are moments of true beauty with tracks like Suicide Note Part 1 and Floods.

For me, The Great Southern Trendkill combines the best elements of Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display of Power, and Cowboys From Hell into one dark and nasty melting pot. The production is flawless despite the ongoing feuds that were taking place during its recording.

But equally, it is an album that really does stand alone in Pantera’s overall output. It also features some of Dime’s most beautiful guitar solos. The solo on Floods is a personal favorite of mine.

As for bangers, there’s plenty. You have Drag The Waters, 13 Steps To Nowhere, War Nerve, and the title track The Great Southern Trendkill to name just a few of its stand-out tracks.

The heaviness of this album isn’t just sonic, it is also drawn from the lyrical content. Lyrically, The Great Southern Trendkill is Pantera at its darkest and most reflective, covering off drug addiction, suicide, isolation, self-loathing, and struggle.

The Great Southern Trendkill is fucking incredible.

Pantera Albums (Complete List)

TitleAlbum details
Metal MagicReleased: June 10, 1983
Label: Metal Magic
Formats: LP, CS
Projects in the JungleReleased: July 27, 1984
Label: Metal Magic
Formats: LP, CS
I Am the NightReleased: August 16, 1985
Label: Metal Magic
Formats: LP, CS
Power MetalReleased: May 20, 1988
Label: Metal Magic
Formats: CD, LP, CS
Cowboys from HellReleased: July 24, 1990
Label: Atco
Formats: CD, LP, CS
Vulgar Display of PowerReleased: February 25, 1992
Label: Atco
Formats: CD, LP, CS
Far Beyond DrivenReleased: March 22, 1994
Label: East West
Formats: CD, LP, CS
The Great Southern TrendkillReleased: May 7, 1996
Label: East West
Formats: CD, LP, CS
Reinventing the SteelReleased: March 21, 2000
Label: East West
Formats: CD, LP, CS

Richard

Richard has been playing guitar for over a decade and is a huge fan of metal, doom, sludge, and rock music in general – though mostly metal. Having played in bands and worked in studios since the early 2000s, Richard is a massive music production geek, a fan of minimalist recording techniques, and he really likes old-school guitars.

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