If it’s a Monday, then it must be a #MetalMonday, which provides us with a perfectly legitimate excuse to shine the spotlight on a classic heavy metal album that’s worthy of your attention...like Pantera's Far Beyond Driven, their only album to find its way to the top of the Billboard 200...and on its first week of release, no less!
Anyone who believed that the rise of grunge had caused the death of metal found those claims thoroughly disproven by Far Beyond Driven, which found Pantera once again working alongside producer Terry Date in the studio. Date's presence likely made frontman Phil Anselmo feel more comfortable...and trust us, he needed all the comfort he could get back then.
Anselmo was battling with ruptured discs in his back and enduring chronic pain from degenerative disc disease. It was a situation which led him to utilize some, uh...well, let’s just say he utilized some non-prescription methods to deal with the agony. But Anselmo channeled that pain into his performance, and combined with lyrics reflected that physical situation (not to mention plenty of other matters), the end result was a staggering piece of work that remains just as staggering 25 years on.
Pantera went above and beyond to promote Far Beyond Driven, making its title decidedly apropos. They visited a dozen cities in less than five days and were rewarded handsomely for their work. In addition to their success in America, Pantera pulled off an unlikely U.K. Top 20 hit with “I’m Broken.”
Far Beyond Driven wasn’t just commercially successful, either: the critics raved at the time, and Rolling Stone later placed it snugly within their list of the 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time.
Reflecting on the album’s success with Radio Metal in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of Far Beyond Driven, Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul freely admitted they expected the album to be big, but even they were blown away by the fact that it was a chart-topper.
“I think we expected it to be in the top five but for a band that didn’t have any radio play, no MTV, no mainstream media coverage, to hit number one, that was a tribute to our fans. They went out to buy 200 000 units the first week it came out and kocked out Bonnie Raitt, Ace of Base, all these huge pop bands that were on at the time. And then Billboard Magazine came out saying: ‘Pantera, overnight sensation.’ We were, like, ‘Bullshit, man!’ We played every fuckin’ place on the face of this earth over the past four years, we build the most crazed fan base in the world, and that’s how we got a number one record, not because of your magazine or the TV or the radio, but because of the fans. The fans spoke. That was a huge accomplishment.”