[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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