I really don't know why they tried everything to keep their 80er-Career as a secret. Ok, they looked like transvestites on Speed, had kindergarten-style artwork, humiliating lyrics... but their music wasn't THAT bad. Pantera started in 1983 with the album "Metal Magic", which couldn't be more cliche-like Poser Metal. The thing, that made this band interesting, was their 17year old guitarrist, later known as "Dimebag Darrel", who was able to play solos with exceptional technical abilities for his age. They continued in 1984 with "Projects In the jungle", which featured the same, but musically improved, style of 80s Mainstream Metal, the same ridiculous outfits an the same hilrious artwork. One year later they released "I Am The Night", probably the best of their 80s effords. This album was undoubtably the first one, where Dimebag found his pattented style of guitar playing. The music sounded like a mixture between Judas Priest and good ol' 90s-Pantera, but still with a singer, that would have fitted better to bands, like Ratt and Poison. The vocalist was fired for some reason afterwards, and Anselmo entered. Since the band improved in their development from album to album, and this is like the "real" Pantera-Line Up, one might expect, that this album must be better, than "I Am The Night". No, wrong. It more an development backwards, with sappy, cheesy Mainsteam Hair-Metal Tracks, like "We'll meet again" or "Hard Ride", even using poofy keyboards to make it more "suck". Dime's got away from his experiments on "I am the night" for the biggest part of the album, and follows a more conventional style, somewhere between Judas Priest and Pop Metal. Some songs stand out and feature more of their typical panterastyle shredding and soloing, like "Over And Out", which is really a rough piece of thrash, or "Death Trap", which sounds pretty much like the stuff on "Cowboys..", only with Anselmo trying to imitate the likes of Halford and Tate. "Burrrn" is also a fine speed metal track. The Rest is quite conventional, slightly above average 80ies stuff.
So an album for Fans of american 80ies-Metal ment to storm the charts, with only short displays of what made Pantera so successfull and important just two years later.