Album Review – Live at Dynamo Open Air 1998 by Pantera (F.R.E.T Music)

At a poignant time in the memory of Pantera, with the sad loss of Vinnie Paul recently, a new live album has been released to remind us all of just how important Pantera were to the metal world. Recorded at one of the worlds biggest metal festivals back in the day, Dynamo Open Air in The Netherlands, in 1998 you get to experience the power and passion of Pantera at a time when they were at the top of their game.

Apparently over 300 recordings of different bands at different years were recorded and held by the organisers of Dynamo Open Air and they are now planning to start releasing some of these to the eager public. The first couple of these are both recorded in 1998. One is the Pantera live set, the purpose of this review, and the other is a Soulfly Set. Both albums/sets released in late June via F.R.E.T Music.

For Pantera, 1998 was really a mix of them being both at the top of their game and at the end of their game. The Great Southern Trendkill had been out for a couple years and the band had been out on the road playing huge shows and festivals across the globe. They were on fire but were also burning out. Problems and rifts between members of the band were starting to be spoken about more publicly and while we didn’t know it at the time, the end was coming just a few years later.

Dynamo

Pantera’s issues and the tragic events that occurred later in their lives are well documented. The eventual war between Anselmo and the Abbot brothers exploded into life as they started verbally attacking each other constantly. Phil went one way, focusing on side projects like Down and Superjoint Ritual while Vinnie and Dime formed Damageplan. Pantera were finished. Any chance of reconciliation between members disappeared on the 8th of December in 2004 when Dimebag Darrell was murdered on stage. This tragic event led to even greater distance between Vinnie Paul and Phil. Years passed and then just a few weeks ago, Vinnie also sadly passed away.

So much tragedy and sadness comes with the name Pantera, it can be easy to forget just how amazing they were. Just how forceful, how aggressive and how passionate these four guys were and how they gave every ounce of energy on that stage. The best example of this is actually their album, Official Live: 101 Proof. One of the greatest live albums ever made, it captures their essence beautifully, transporting you to the show. Let’s see if Dynamo Open Air can do the same.

Dynamo

The thing with live albums is there is little point in me telling you whether or not the songs are good. You already know that they are great. The real skill with creating a live album is how well they can capture that live magic. That energy, the rawness. Can the producers keep their meddling hands away and not try to polish it? How does the crowd sound? Credit where credit is due and Live at Dynamo Open Air 1998 manages to tick all the right boxes. It sounds great. On par with 101 Proof even. The band’s raw edge is front and centre. Rex’s bass rumbles the speakers while Vinnie’s drums absolutely pound. Dimebag mixes up grooving riffs with screeching solos and Phil sounds raspy, vicious and full of character.

One of the great things about live albums are the little “between song” talks you get from the frontman and Phil appears bang on form here, whipping the crowd into a frenzy and making jokes with the fans and other band members. The only small negative really is that the crowd aren’t particularly loud. To be fair, it is 2 decades old, as a recording so it may just have been captured this way. Equipment has changed a fair bit in the last couple decades. It isn’t really bad either, just at times you expect to hear 110,000 roaring fans in response to a question and get a faded rumble in the background. I imagine it being a lot louder when you were actually there so in that respect they have failed to capture the experience perfectly.

No matter, it is really strong and not quite, but close to on par with Live: 101 Proof. A great track list, which you can see below, a band at the top of their game and a spectacular festival captured well enough that you can visualise it and just for a short while, Pantera are back and all is well in the world.

1 – Walk

2 – A New Level

3 – Suicide Note Pt. 1

4 – War Nerve

5 – Becoming

6 – Sandblasted Skin

 7 – Hard Lines Sunken Cheeks

8 – Primal Concrete Sledge

9  – I’m Broken

10 – Fucking Hostile

11 – This Love

12 – Domination/Hollow

13 – Mouth For War

14 – Cowboys From Hell

Pantera Live at Dynamo Open Air 1998 is available now on all the usual streaming services, like Apple Music and Spotify. You can grab a physical copy from all record stores now, as well as here.

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