Happy Anniversary: Pantera, COWBOYS FROM HELL
27 years ago today, Pantera released their fifth album, which was their major label debut and – perhaps most importantly – the LP that served as their mainstream breakthrough.
Recorded at Pantego Sound Studio in Pantego, Texas, COWBOYS FROM HELL was released on Atco, and to hear the band tell it, their signing to the label through the dual efforts of Mark Ross and Derek Shulman only came about after they were rejected “28 times by every major label on the face of the earth.” Thankfully, Shulman had an interest in the band, and when he asked Ross to go see the band while they were playing – and Ross was stranded – in Texas.
“By the end of the first song, my jaw was on the floor,” Ross later admitted. “The song power of it all – the attitude and the musicianship – blew me away. Basically, you had to be an idiot not to think they’re amazing. I mean, how could you see these guys and not think, ‘Holy shit!’?”
In turn, Pantera was confident that they’d put together an album with COWBOYS FROM HELL that would make both critics and record buyers think the same thing. Indeed, they had, thanks in no small part to the title track and the epic “Cemetery Gates,” a seven-minute song that both showed off the band members’ skill as musicians as well as lead singer Phil Anselmo’s gifts as a vocalist.
Although COWBOYS FROM HELL never climbed any higher on the Billboard 200 than #117, it was one of those LPs that kept on selling and selling and selling, to the point where it secured platinum status four years after being certified gold. As a result of its sales figures, it’s also proven to be a highly influential album as well, being cited as one of the albums that defined the subgenre known as “groove metal” and making it onto best-of lists by Guitar World, IGN, and Metal Rules.
In the immortal words of Cosmo Kramer, “Giddy-up!”
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