[Album Review] Pantera | Reinventing The Steel (20th Anniversary Edition)

Record labels, take note.  This is the kind of release we music fans are looking for.

Reinventing The Steal was Pantera’s last hurrah before hanging it up for good.  At the time, the band wanted to shake things up and allowed their long-time producer Terry Date to step aside for someone else.  (Date admitted in later interviews that he was having trouble keeping pace with the in-studio drinking of a shot every 20 minutes.)

So, taking charge behind the board for the first time was their engineer, Sterling Winfield.  He worked alongside co-producers, drummer Vinnie Paul and guitarist Dimebag Darrel, in Dimebag’s home studio and what they came up with was a mighty fine record.

Their previous album, Great Southern Trendkill, was well received but it was a little out there.  So for many fans, Reinventing The Steel was seen as the band getting back to their groove from the classic Cowboys From HellVulgar Display of Power era.

But that didn’t translate into sales.  Reinventing The Steel is the only album the band recorded for a major label that has yet to reach Platinum status.

Personally, I think the dip in sales had more to do with piracy in the year 2000 and how many felt it was a rehash of what came out 10 years before.  But still, others have theorized that the album’s biggest error was to not have Terry Date involved and many wondered what the results would be if he had.

Well, we need to wonder no more because now we have Terry Date’s new mix included on the 20th Anniversary Edition!

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It is featured on Disc 1 of this new 3 CD set and for me, his take is pretty good but a little flat.  It is certainly more vivid than the original but it places all of the pieces of the band at the forefront.  It sounds like everyone is competing for the same space at the top.

Really, Sterling Winfield’s remastering of his original mix on Disc 2 has me better impressed.  Winfield filtered any changes he made through the band’s two surviving members (Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown) and Pantera’s management, all had envisioned what Dimebag and Vinnie’s wishes for a remaster would be foremost in their minds.  For me, it is a little muddy compared to Date’s but I like how the instruments are layered which gives each song better depth.

The difference between the two mixes is not subtle.  Heck, even Shazam specified which I was listening too:

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But really, it is awesome that we have both to compare and own right here.

What really knocks this set out of the park is the bonus material.  According to Winfield, the band was super focused in the studio, so there are not any pieces left unfinished.  Everything that was recorded during these sessions was completed and published at some point.

But that did not stop this set from going the extra mile.

Added to Disc 2 are radio edits/mixes for the singles Revolution Is My Name, Goddamn Electric, and I’ll Cast A Shadow. OK, I’ll admit it… Having Pantera tunes with the cuss words cut out is not much of a bonus.  Maybe they could come in handy if you were making a Pantera mix for your mom.

Disc 3 makes up for it with its 15 tracks.  It includes the covers (Black Sabbath’s Electric Funeral and Hole In The Sky, Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever) and their two B-sides (Avoid The Light, Immortally Insane) that were recorded at this time.  That is an excellent way to get all of these tunes without buying a mess of soundtracks, tribute albums, and singles.

Finally, each album track has a “rough mix” which are hi-fi recordings of the rhythm sections with no vocals and sometimes no lead guitar.  Since there isn’t much extra out there from Dimebag, it is a real treat to hear the curtain pulled back a little on his creative process.

Reinventing the Steel The 20th Anniversary Edition is a no-brainer must-have for any Pantera fan even if you already own and prefer the original CD.  I’ll even say any metalhead will need to check this out and any music fan can appreciate how encompassing and complete of a release it is.

4/5

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42 comments

      1. I really should give the first two Anselmo albums a fair shake. It doesn’t help that I don’t like the guy very much. It’s easier to try a new band when you’re interested in the members beyond just the music.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The first Anselmo album you may like better since it sounds like Judas Priest. “Power Metal” is what it’s called. Cowboys from Hell is a good hybrid between their earlier glam sound and the more thrash/groove orientated direction that would come. Cowboys would probably be what I’d recommend anyone looking to like them. Vulgar is more extreme and more like what they would do going forward, and Far Beyond Driven is the logical extension of what they were doing on Vulgar. My favorite is Great Southern Trendkill, but that’s their most extreme album and I definitely would not recommend starting there. It’s super brutal, and I had to get over a few super juvenile lyrics to really love it. Far Beyond Driven is probably my second favorite, several killer riffs/grooves in that one, and I like the mix better than the previous two.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve researched Pantera on Wikipedia a few times and what happened to Vinnie and Dimebag is tragic. They both died so young, especially Dimebag, I hope the Reinventing the Steel 20th Anniversary Edition set did the band justice!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice score. I wonder if these remasters and deluxe editions would have happened if Vinnie was still alive.

    I’m more of a Cowboys fan than anything that came after. Musically Vulgar and Driven are big but Anselmo’s vocals didn’t resonate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Their earlier albums got expanded editions while he was still here so I image it was going to happen regardless. This is the first to get a new mix though. Phil’s vocals are the biggest hurdle for most to get through. You can check out the instrumentals on this one if you’re interested in hearing what they sound like without him.

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      1. I don’t mind Phil’s vocals now as I started listening to a lot of bands from 2000’s onwards who had vocalist that sang like that and music that was really great. So in order to hear the riffs I had to put up with the vocals. Lol.
        I was a Guitar World subscriber and Dimebag had a monthly column in that mag about playing guitar. I loved em, he was like my guitar teacher. Lol.

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  3. I’m a weirdo in that The Great Southern Trendkill is my favorite, though FBD is close. It feels like Phil at his most honest, even if that does come with a few juvenile attacks on the press like in “War Nerve”. “Floods” is an all time classic, love Dimebag’s evil sounding clean tone on that song. I think bringing in Seth Putnam for vocals was also a good move, just adds another layer of brutality, and proves Seth could have been a success with a better band (and a less confrontational attitude.)

    Reinventing the Steel despite its title felt like a backpedal from the extremity of the previous record. Like they were slipping into complacency in being their own niche. I guess at nine records into your career a lot of groups start to lose the inspiration to grow, but who knows? Maybe it would have been a temporary regression seeing Phil’s output of late pushing the boundaries. Reinventing is still a good album, but it feels like for the first time they aren’t progressing from the previous record. Gotta commend them for getting “Death Rattle” into Spongebob though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think it is that weird. Trendkill sold really well and I think most fans liked it. It was too out there for me though and that Seth guy really isn’t my thing. They got back to the groove that I like for RTS, so it was not a regression for me.

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      1. By regression I just meant it sounds more like VDOP than pushing the envelope like they were with GSTK. Some say they pushed it too far with that one though, so I don’t blame them for going back to a less confrontational sound.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, as an AC/DC fan, I don’t know if I need a band to be pushing envelopes for every album, lol. But I see what you a re saying. Well, we are never getting any more Pantera so everyone might as well just enjoy the parts of them that they like.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think AC/DC has evolved more than people give them credit for. They’ve definitely put out the same record since at least The Razors Edge now.

            Yes, enjoy all the Pantera! I was just giving reasons why TGSTK was my favorite. Now all we need is a thorough box set of the Terry Glaze albums and Power Metal.

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Power Metal is pretty cool. The three before it are so cheesy it hurts and I rarely ever reach for them for more than a chuckle. Terry Glaze was a goofball, as evidenced by his later joke band Lord Tracy.

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