OK, let me make this clear right off the bat: Damageplan is NOT Pantera. Got it? Good.
The inevitable comparisons have been drawn between the two bands because Damageplan is one half of Pantera, but this band is no more like Pantera than Phil Anselmo’s Down or Superjoint Ritual projects are. The Abbott brothers have put Pantera to bed (willingly or not) and moved on to a new style of metal on the band’s debut CD, NEW FOUND POWER. While the focus of Damageplan has been on Vinnie & Dime, the key to most bands is its singer. In a curious move, Pat Lachmann was hired on as the singer for Damageplan, despite being the guitarist in Halford for three years. The big question is can Vinnie and Dime find success outside of the Pantera realm? Judging that success by NEW FOUND POWER, I would have to say yes.
There is no questioning Vinnie and Dime’s musical talents and believe me, they are on full display here. However I think the weak link in the chain is Lachmann. He isn’t a terrible singer by any means (and he is, in all fairness, first and foremost, a guitarist) but he does lack a strong range and besides screaming (which he does in spades here), he doesn’t really do anything to set himself apart from any struggling metalcore screamer out there trying to get a record deal. That aside, new bassist Bob Zilla absolutely tears up this record, most notably on “Pride” and “Save Me.” This guy is a monster!
The CD is beefed up by two noteworthy guest musicians: Zakk Wylde and Slipknot/Stone Sour vocalist Corey Taylor. Taylor shows up doing his patented growl/scream on the rather unimaginatively titled, “Fuck You.” This track is H-E-A-V-Y and even has some thrash elements. I’m sure this one will be popular with the wife-beater and buzzcut crowd in the moshpits! One look at the lyrics and the jig is up over who the song is directed at, too:
Fuck you I’m through
I want nothing more from you
My sanity is wearing thin
Irate, I hate
You determined your own fate
Now everything is caving in
Fuck your powertrip and
Fuck your attitude and
Fuck your bloated ego too
Fuck your history, your tragedy, your misery
But most of all motherfucker… fuck you!
Are you listening Mr. Anselmo? Wylde shows up on two tracks, once as a guitarist playing second lead (“Reborn”) and once as a harmony vocalist (“Soul Bleed”). “Reborn” is one of the best tracks on the CD. Not surprisingly, I love the guitar trade-offs between Zakk and Dime and the vocals are pretty good, too. A credit to Lachmann’s vocals can be found on “Pride” and “Soul Bleed.” “Pride” is a slower, melodic tune and Lachmann is able to stretch a bit as a vocalist. “Soul Bleed” is an acoustic track that sounds like a throwback to JAR OF FLIES-era Alice In Chains thanks to the harmonizing between Wylde and Lachmann. Dime’s instantly recognizable riffs and solos are present all over this CD but the title track and “Moment of Truth” are real standouts.
The guys certainly haven’t forgotten how to write a catchy melody, either. “Breathing New Life,” “Pride” and “Save Me” are ready for the music channels/radio stations with memorable hooks and great rhythms. Don’t confuse this as an attempt to “sell out,” either, though I’m sure the band wouldn’t mind a bona fide hit under their belt to rub in Anselmo’s face. For every “Pride,” there is a “Crawl” or “Reborn” to kick things into high gear.
There are only two tracks here to avoid. “Blink of An Eye” is about as nu-metal as they come and its chorus sounds like Jonathan Davis from Korn. The guitars are down-tuned and fortunately, this is the only blatantly nu-metal track on the CD. “Blunt Force Trauma” is absolutely dreadful. Slow, plodding with an embarrassingly bad vocal from Lachmann. Skip it!
If taken at face value, NEW FOUND POWER is an excellent American metal CD. Vinnie Paul and Dimebag Darrell have picked up the pieces from Pantera, fiddled with the formula a bit and come up with a new sound. Unfortunately, Damageplan will face insurmountable criticism just because of who they are. As long as the endless comparisons to Pantera don’t befall them before fans even hear a note of this CD, Damageplan could be a successful chapter in the brother’s musical history.
KILLER KUTS: “Soul Bleed,” “Save Me,” “Reborn,” “Breathing New Life”
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