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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Rebel Meets Rebel

Rebel Meets Rebel

Review by Mike Korn

If we lived in a world where heavy metal guitarists didn't get gunned down by lunatics with guns, this would a fun and entertaining record that mixes musical genres. But unfortunately, this is not such a world, so "Rebel Meets Rebel" is much more than a mere CD. It serves as a lasting legacy to the talent of Dimebag Darrell Abbott, who was taken from us all too soon.

Dimebag, of course, was the ace guitarist for Pantera...the band widely credited with keeping metal alive during the grunge-dominated early 90's. During a period of inactivity for Pantera (caused by singer Phil Anselmo's diddling around with countless side bands like Down, Viking Crown, Necrophagia, etc, etc), Dime, his brother and Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul and Pantera bassist Rex Brown chafed at having no outlet for their talents. Seeking something to keep them creatively occupied during the hiatus, they turned to their roots, spent listening to old school country music. After striking up a relationship with country music outlaw David Allen Coe, the concept of Rebel Meets Rebel was formed...a band combining metal power and energy with the feel of pure redneck country. The guys laid down tracks and then Pantera became active again and Rebel Meets Rebel subsided. Until the tragic night when an assassin took Dimebag's life. That got Vinnie thinking that the old RMR stuff should be widely released as a tribute to Darrell.

That brings us to the here and now. I can only say that I'm glad Vinnie Paul got this out to the public, because it's a really entertaining listen that shows a much wider range to Dime's guitar skill than the first Damageplan or last couple of Pantera records. I happen to hate most country music, but I found myself warming to this record right away. It's definitely more metal than country, but Coe's grizzled vocals are pure redneck and give the band its gritty outlaw charm. It's a sound that's totally successful, whether the song is chugging Pantera thrash ("Nothin' to Lose"), hard-edged Southern rock ("Cowboys Do More Dope") or acoustic blues ("NYC Streets"). It's a bittersweet experience listening to Dime's great guitar work here, because we know that he will never get the chance to play this style again. This record is definitely recommended to anybody into hard rock with a twist.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review
Nothin' To Lose
The sound of a one-armed bandit hitting the jackpot gives way to a Dimebag guitar lick and then a killer chugging thrash riff that gets your neck sore right away. Then David Allen Coe's gravelly country vocals cut in and they take a little getting used to. But they actually fit like a glove as they relate the booze-soaked tale of an out of control gambler: "A man with nothing got nothin' to lose."I could do without the cheesy female orgasm noises, but man, this song is just plain fun to headbang to and Dime is sounding awesome on leads. 
Rebel Meets Rebel
Wow, the country feel gets more pronounced here, even though this is another metal track. Check out the bluegrass feel to the opening chords. Dime actually gets to sing a little on this one, trading vocals with Coe. The cut still has a real heavy thump to it. The lyrics are breezy and you can tell the guys are just having fun and not trying for anything serious. The end of the number sees a significant speed up in the guitar department, but also some great bluegrass fiddle on top of it. The combination of genres really works great here!
Cowboys Do More Dope
Sultry honky-tonk piano starts this cut, but soon enough it gives way to a thick riff with that trademark Pantera guitar sound. There's a kind of Molly Hatchet touch to this cut and I guarantee you will have a hard time getting the chorus out of your mind. Damn, it's so catchy, I can't believe it! Better stand back when Dime cuts loose on his solos...he's sounding better than he has since Vulgar Display of Power at least. This is a track you could imagine being the background for a brawl at a redneck roadhouse somewhere in West Texas.
This is a brief acoustic guitar jam that smoothly segues into the next track.
Heart Worn Highway
This is kind of a mournful tune with a melancholy feel to it. It's one of those "out on the highway" laments about outlaws on the run...a tried and true country theme. Rex's bass work really drives this one and Coe's vocals are at their best, even unleashing a powerful scream at one point. Dime's guitar work here is notably more bluesy and smoldering. The track is metal but nothing like Pantera. I like the versatility here.
One Nite Stands
I call this "honky tonk metal." Molly Hatchet again comes to mind's a simple tune with a thick and heavy bluesy grind to it. It's not rocket science by any means, but still fun.
Arizona Rivers
This is a spooky country rock lament with Coe's vocals sounding haunted. There's something about the track which reminds me of Led Zeppelin in their folkier, more atmospheric moments, but with a stronger country feel to it. A whole album of this I wouldn't be able to take, but the placement here is just right and it serves as a gateway to the much more metallic following cut.
Get Outta My Life
You can't get any more classic Pantera than the burly riffs which kick off this bruiser. If "Arizona Rivers" was a lament for love lost, this is a song full of venom for a bitter break-up. Hank Williams III lends very cool vocals to the chorus on this track and Vinnie's shuffling percussion gives it a different rhythm.
Cherokee Cry
This is another hoary old theme of country rock...the "Indian injustice" tune. I think they try too hard to make it sound "Indian" and it sounds a little corny. The part with tom-toms beating and Cherokee war whoops in the background is actually embarrassing. The tune is heavy and driving but too obvious both musically and lyrically.
More classic Pantera Dimebag guitar kicks off this vigorous rocker. "Alien forces live inside my brain/I must obey or I go insane," Coe's vocals relate. This is a mid-paced cruncher that is boosted by a lot of catchy vocal lines that stick in my head. It would have fit in on the Cowboys From Hell or even the earlier Power Metal album perfectly.
No Compromise
This is the album's screamer. I never would have imagined hearing country music vocals on a brutal metal rocker like this. It's a combo of different speeds, with some really raw thrash at points and powerful double bass drumming from Vinnie Paul. Coe's vocals veer from spoken word to rough yells. Dime's guitar solo is a super high pitched squeal like only he could do...I've never heard anything quite like it. At the 3:10 mark, a fat Pantera chug cuts in and almost made me cry with how perfect it is. This is a great all out metal track.
N. Y. C. Streets
The album wraps up with this sweet acoustic rocker. It's got a pretty, dreamy sound to it, with Coe sounding really laid back and the lyrics sounding almost made up as they are played. Street noises murmur in the background and there's some tasty and restrained blues licks from Dime over the whole thing. It's another demonstration of his versatility and reinforces what a dirty rotten shame his death is.
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