The Great Southern Trendkill is the eighth studio album by heavy metal band Pantera. Released on May 7, 1996 by EastWest Records, the album is often considered to be their most heavy and extreme work, a peak after the thrash, groove, and heavy metal (respectively) of their three previous efforts, Cowboys from Hell, Vulgar Display of Power, and Far Beyond Driven.
It was the fourth and final Pantera album that Terry Date would produce. During the album’s recording, lead singer Phil Anselmo was mired in heroin use, and shortly after the album’s release, nearly died due to overdosing. Band tensions were at an all-time high, as indicated by Anselmo recording his vocals in his hometown of New Orleans, and the rest of the band recording in their native Texas. Whilst on a radio show, Anselmo stated:
Well, it was very interesting times and very trying times as well. On a personal level, I wasn’t doing all that well because I was injured, I was making every rookie mistake in the world with pain medication and I was embarrassed. I didn’t wanna see anybody, man. I was in a bad way … [So] I did decide to do my vocals on my own.
Like their other recent work, The Great Southern Trendkill was another huge success for the band, albeit receiving more mixed reviews this time around. In a 3-star (out of 5) review for AllMusic, Steve Huey called the album “an inconsistent outing,” while also stating that the album “is partially redeemed by trading Pantera’s usual pound-then-pound-harder approach to albums for a greater variety of tempos and moods. Dimebag Darrell, while mostly sticking to his familiar riffing style, does coax some intriguing, unexpected sounds from his instrument.”
The album peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and spent 16 weeks on the chart. It was certified Platinum by the RIAA. Three singles were released from the album, “Drag the Waters,” “Suicide Note,” (both parts 1 and 2) and “Floods,” the latter of which contains one of heavy metal’s most iconic guitar solos.