And so it starts, for our Texas Metal favorites worldwide. But a humble start it is. The little known fact (to many fans) that Pantera were actually an Eighties band with 4 albums before "Cowboys to Hell". Previously, to that album, the band was an amalgamation of influences from Kiss to Judas Priest on Metal Magic, to Motley Crue and Metallica on subsequent albums. But this album (Metal Magic) is an amateur, sloppy, and calculated attempt at both credibility and commercial potential. Right out of the gate we have "Ride My Rocket", basically a Kiss Tribute (with maybe a bit of Priest thrown in for good measure). Riff for riff, the beginning bass line is the same as "Detroit Rock City". A cheesy robotic voice announces "We need Metal Magic..we need Pantera", and then the song starts. "I'll be Alright" is the second track, and reveals a few more NWOBHM influences than the previous track (we're on a better track overall). Then the third track comes, and its quite a stinker. A commercial, Loverboy meets early Def Leppard track "Tell Me if You Want It". Featuring lyrics such as "we're making love in the back of my limousine" (despite Pantera's then more than likely admiration of used 70's Chevy Novas and Camaros lol), this really takes the urinal cake. "Biggest Part of Me" (no not in reference to then singer Terry Lee's penile measurements hopefully) then continues the downward trend into proto hair metal meets AOR mediocrity with "Latest Lover". A glimmer of light appears (For a few moments) in the form of the Priest-like "Metal Magic" and it seems like a medicore album is saved (at least for now). The song's early speed metal riffs and catchy (though cheesy) chorus makes the song the first one that can actually be called more than mediocre. But sadly, this early peak is decimated with the next two songs, the turgid "Widowmaker" and "Sad Lover". Horrible, just horrible, and not even worth mentioning! But for some reason "Rock Out" is the last track, and it further shows the potential that the title track (four songs before (!)) showed. The album then ends (thankfully) and we are saved from Pantera's very worst album. And worst cover art (of all time?). A cheesy, picture of a tiger and a logo that could be drawn by a fifth grader is what adorns this "magnum opus".
All in all, Pantera's Metal Magic isn't the steaming pile of shit that bashers of pre-Cowboys Pantera would have it as, but its no gem either. Its more like a steaming pile of dung with a few gold flakes scattered in the debris. But we will continue this journey to the past with the next installment of this review series, same mattowarrior time, same mattowarrior channel.