It’s seven years this Christmas since the death of Dimebag Darrell.
Enough space, really, for an artist to be remembered by one generation of fans with immediacy and fondness – or at the very least, respect – and for another generation not to have a clue who he was. The same can be said for Pantera whole, if you think about it.
Stand With Heretics, from Downpatrick, Co. Down, are pretty clear about their debt to the great guitarist and indeed the once-great band. They take their cues almost exclusively from the ‘Far Beyond Driven’ and ‘Trendkill’ eras, with solos straight out of Dime’s trickbag and a wandering bass that’s all Rex Brown.
I have to declare something of an interest here, and say that I used to play in Hexxed with Gerard Ritchie, SWH’s guitarist. It wont prejudice the review – he was a fantastic bassist in his younger days and unsurprisingly is now a shit-hot guitarist, so my opinion is exactly what it would have been had I heard this without knowing who was playing.
As usual with bands that are excessively fond of their famous forbears, it’s a bit of a balancing act. The key thing isn’t whether or not they’re too close to the original (remember Tera a while back?) – it’s about asking whether they’ve put enough of themselves under the umbrella of their heroes.
Stand With Heretics have. Though the wide bends and chuggety drums are pure Pantera from start to finish, the vocals set it all aside enough to remain credible. Opener ‘Guttersnipe’ is the most ‘fun’, as it were, and will please the groove metal contingent no end.
As the album goes on however, we see the band bringing more and more personality to the proceedings. For my money, the standout track here is ‘Addictive Entity’, which despite sounding straight of side 2 off ‘Far Beyond Driven’ has a real darkness and a punishing weight.
Do I honestly believe the vocalist is as hard as he’s making out in the lyrics? No. So there are a few cringeworthy moments here and there with Americanisms and ‘motherfuckas’ galore. Maybe the band could bin these for the next one and get a bit more dirty in a more relevant or localised sense. It would benefit them.
It’s excellently produced though, with all the guys playing to a high standard and a huge variety of beats and feels. The excellent drumming really needs commending as well, being weighty as well as flexible enough to sound powerfully accessible. Not an easy balance.
Yeah, it’s mostly Pantera worship, and perhaps that will dictate how people approach it. It’s good though, and if I were sixteen right now I’d be going nuts to it wherever they’re playing live. Tracks like ‘Snake In The Grass’ have a totally different feel that’ll be good for them to develop – so lets hope they can slither off in that direction for the next one.
Nail it back, dudes – it ain’t no candy.
3.8 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 27/11/11