I must make it quite clear that Philip H. Anselmo has been an influence on my life since I was 12 going on 13. My first exposure to Anselmo occurred when I brought “The Great Southern Trendkill” on cassette tape whilst on holidays with my family in Sydney, September 1996. At this point in my life I was quite in love with the whole Seattle thing with my only real exposure to Metal being through early dabbling’s with Guns N Roses, Ugly Kid Joe and that point, my favourite band Metallica. I was quite a massive fan of Metallica and had just gotten heavily into the bands catalogue and loved every inch of it. I had become aware of Pantera through my browsing of the alternative / metal section at my local record store in Mackay which was where my family lived at the time. Prior to the above mentioned family holiday I had heard the single from “The Great Southern Trendkill” called “Drag The Waters” on Triple J’s request fest which at that point was hosted by the brilliant Michael Tunn. I loved what I heard and as was the custom at this point in my life, I sat by the radio most nights hoping it was going to be played and tape it onto a blank cassette tape. I finally managed to capture this song and I was obsessed with it. When we arrived in Sydney for our holiday, my main aim was to spend my allotted holiday funds on purchasing the remaining Metallica cassette tapes I didn’t own and a copy of Pantera’s new album “The Great Southern Trendkill” which had just been released. I brought a lot of cassette tapes (from Artists like Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Everclear, White Zombie and Metallica) on that holiday but the one album and band that truly stood out was “The Great Southern Trendkill” by Pantera.
I still remember my first moment listening to “The Great Southern Trendkill” and I solemnly believe that one of the most important life changing moments for me was when I heard the title track which opens the album which I think you need to listen to right now:
This song changed my whole idea of what music could and should be. It introduced me to the healing power of heavy metal and lyrically it was an education. It plugged me into the importance of going against the grain and at that point in my life I needed something this heavy to save me. You have to understand as a 12 going on 13 year old human who was obese, the navigation of high school and life in general was torture. I was bullied beyond belief and there are some incredibly terrible stories I could tell you about things I’ve suffered at the hands of other humans through both mental and physical abuse, just for simply showing up. The angst of the Seattle and Alt Rock bands I was listening to was enough to heal but it wasn’t until I discovered Pantera that I truly was healed.
You see, what Pantera did over any other band at that point was providing me the strength to rise above those who chose to terrorise my existence. The music of Pantera saved my life, more than I can illustrate with words. This isn’t some clichéd reflection on how something saved my life, when I say Pantera saved my life I fucking mean it. This band gave me strength to rise above it all and to not become a victim, to see the silliness and foolishness of the humans who bullied me and that they were lacking the intelligence and communicative skills to be good humans. It taught me to be compassionate to the underdog and to do everything with an intense passion; life was worth living when I had Pantera in my life. Whilst everyone was busy being influenced by Kurt Cobain it was Philip H. Anselmo, Pantera’s lead singer, who solved and helped me learn from my pain. I become fanatical about everything Anselmo did and he was my hero above everyone else and still is to this day. He was the best friend I’ve never met and throughout his whole career I’ve remained loyal to all of the art he has made and continue to be inspired by all that he is about.
So the prospect of a Philip H. Anselmo solo album was quite thrilling for me as you could imagine and it has been a long time coming.
I could review this like every other asshole and compare it to Phil’s already impeccable and flawless catalogue but why waste my time doing that. I’m not here to get all scientific on why this album is such a brilliant piece of art; I’ll leave that to the other journalist humans. What I do want to do with this review is treat it as a thank you letter to Phil for all he has done for me over the last 17 years of my life.
So to Phil, I’d like to say thank you for being my number one inspiration as both a human being and an artist. No one has ever come close to matching the level of influence you have over what I do and regardless of what music I’m listening to, you always remain to be the original and the best. Thanks to you I have gone on to discover a world of amazing heavy metal and also found the confidence within myself to be a better human being. When I first started playing in heavy metal bands in High School, you were the person I wanted to be. When I attempted to play folk music as a solo artist after High School, you were the person I wanted to be. When I started playing art rock noise music with Galapogos you were the person I wanted to be. When I wanted to be a person who writes about music, like I do with Heavy and Weird, you were the person I wanted to be. Through wanting to be you I have managed to become myself and for that I feel incredibly blessed. I would not be alive if it wasn’t for you and your music. Your new solo album is hands down one of the greatest things you’ve done and since I brought it I have done nothing but listen to it and get lost in the amazing piece of art that it is. You truly are one of the most pure human beings in this world. Although you play intense, aggressive and dark music it comes from a place of love and because you are out there doing what you love you make millions of people incredibly happy. The amount of positive energy that this generates is what helps so many of us wake up each day to face the world. Without your influence I wouldn’t have woken up to just how cruel this world is but in realising this I’ve also understood how I can rise above it and go against the grain and chase my dreams with an intense discipline and passion. Anytime I have been told how good something is that I’ve done I always think of you and how it has been because of your influence.
So thank you Philip H. Anselmo and once again, you have made an incredible solo album that strengthens your already flawless discography.
10 Billion Cassette Tapes out of 10
By: Dan Newton
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