Far Beyond Driven is the seventh studio album by heavy metal band Pantera. Released on March 22, 1994 by EastWest Records, the album was the first that credited guitarist Darrell Abbott as Dimebag Darrell, his longstanding nickname. It also contained a much heavier sound than their previous work, which included the thrash and groove metal of their two previous efforts, Cowboys from Hell and Vulgar Display of Power, respectively, as well as the glam metal of their first four records.
Terry Date, who had been collaborating with the group since Cowboys from Hell, once again stepped up to produce. Near the time of the album’s release however, lead singer Phil Anselmo started suffering from ruptured discs in his back and degenerative disc disease. He began drinking and using heroin to numb the pain, nearly overdosing in July of 1996 as a result. In an interview with Loyola University dating back to March 2009, around the 15th anniversary of the album, Anselmo, in response to when his troubles started, recalled:
Well, I think it was about the time when the record [Far Beyond Driven] came in at #1. I was pretty terrified. I was happy as hell; don’t get me wrong, man — I was like, ‘Oh, my God, yes!’ At that point, I had just gotten back from the doctor — from having my second MRI done — and I realized I had two blown-out disks. Now, in order for me to be this Superman that the media had built me up to be, I had to quell that pain. So I started off with regular painkillers and muscle relaxers. Eventually, you climb up the painkiller ladder, because painkillers lie to you; they will magnify that injury. And that’s all that’s on your mind — the injury and painkillers.
Despite growing turmoil behind the scenes, Far Beyond Driven became a commercial and critical success. Rolling Stone put the album at No. 39 on their list of “The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time,” citing it as “a record that boasted some of their fastest (opener “Strength Beyond Strength”), heaviest (the Sabbath-y “I’m Broken”), and most downright misanthropic (the utterly depraved “Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills”) jams.”
As mentioned earlier, the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and spent 31 weeks on the chart, becoming their fastest-selling album and being certified Platinum by the RIAA. Four singles were released from the album, the aforementioned “I’m Broken,” the Black Sabbath cover “Planet Caravan,” “5 Minutes Alone,” and “Becoming.”