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Back in the Day

Worth revisiting: REBEL MEETS REBEL

Posted on December 16, 2008

The recent anniversary of Dimebag's death may have encouraged you to blast Vulgar Display of Power, 101 Proof or really any Pantera record, since they all rule. But to further grasp the range of the brilliance that is Darrell Abbott, give a shot to the cowboys from hell's underappreciated collab with outlaw country legend David Allan Coe, Rebel Meets Rebel.

Scared off by the word "country?" Most people were, and despite featuring the last new music from Dimebag, Rebel Meets Rebel's only album has barely made a dent on the world's radar since it came out in 2006. But check it out and you'll be rewarded with one of the best party albums in recent memory.

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On a break from Pantera, Dimebag, Vinnie Paul, Rex Brown and country's reigning dirty old man Coe formed a country metal alliance. It sounded nothing like Coe or Pantera's previous music, nothing like Metallica's misguided stabs at country on Load and nothing like Hank Williams III (who makes an awesome cameo on "Get Outta My Life," mayhaps the great metal tell-off song.) Rebel Meets Rebel works because it doesn't try to be country or metal–just blur the bold line between the two onto an awesome hard rock record.

The simple, unbearably catchy opener "Nothin' to Lose" sets the pace–country-based compositions played with the volume and extremity of one of the greatest metal bands in history. Sex, drugs and heavy metal cowboy formulas are played up to the point of hilarity on "Cowboys Do More Dope," "One Nite Stands" and the title track, the later being a Black Tooth Grin-drenched hoedown based around an electric violin progression that trumps the one in Starship Troopers. The climactic fiddle solo sounds like Satan (the original cowboy from hell) getting his revenge after that whole incident with Johnny down in Georgia.

Dimebag, Rex and Vinnie all sound liberated on Rebel Meets Rebel, free to make southern fried, melodic and shit-kicking metal tunes that would not have flown on a grim Pantera album. The confrontational yet good-natured attitude of the band serves as an ideal epitaph for Dimebag. Just as Bon Scott sounded like the party-hearty, patron-decking king of the tavern on his final AC/DC album, Dimebag goes out with all guns blazing, ripping a spellbinding solo on "Heart Worn Highway," trading outlaw toasts with Coe and dropping bar-fight worthy riffs over nearly every measure. Slower numbers like the spacey, ominous "Arizona Rivers," showcase his versatility, hinting that Dimebag had barely started to explore his unbounded talents.

It's not a perfect album. "Cherokee Cry" only proves that RMR should've left the social commentary to Maiden on "Run to the Hills," and "No Compromise" is too much of an alright thing. But the whole 40-minute album is ideal for a good evening of painting the town red, or for remembering one of the great figures in metal.

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