Because you (sort of) asked for it, it’s the triumphant pseudo-return of everyone’s favorite dork-out, Justify Your Shitty Taste! Almost every band has that album: the critically and/or commercially reviled dud in an otherwise radical back catalog. Well, every other Wednesday morning (more or less; don’t hold us to this), a Decibel staffer or special guest will take to the Deciblog to bitch and moan at length as to why everybody’s full of shit and said dud is, in fact, The Shit. But for JYST’s second run, we’re expanding the scope of the column to include vigorous defenses of records from bands with slightly less unfuckwithable track records. Let’s get started with Frank Lemke’s vigorously deranged defense of Rebel Meets Rebel’s self-titled bow.
I’m not just saying that Rebel Meets Rebel is good for something bad. I’m saying that Rebel Meets Rebel is a rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece, in a class nearly of its own. Rebel Meets Rebel should be played at every fucking party, ever, the same as 1984, I Get Wet and Reign in Blood. Good party music is crucial.
I’ll confess that this album isn’t a complete miss among the people I know. I know a few hillbillies and rednecks, real degenerate types, and they love this album as much as I do. But even metalheads can be music snobs, and most that I’ve met are somehow “above” this album. They don’t even hate it; they just won’t give it the time of day. I bring it up and they dismiss it like it’s the Mets or something (eat a dick-managing ed.). They won’t even acknowledge it, and that’s even worse.
This is one of the only country metal projects ever, and it’s the fucking purebred of rebel flag redneck metal. It’s the Lynyrd Skynyrd of metal. Who else has made music like this? There was Pride & Glory, another awesome project, which was more eclectic, though. Hank III has definitely got it down, but you can’t put him up against Dime and Vin. Days of the New was very heavy acoustic music, but not such a good time. And I never actually listened to Hellyeah!, so who knows?
“Nothin’ to Lose” kicks this album off with a donkey punch. The intro riff has balls like Pantera, but the bass break for the verse is complete country. You hear each member of Pantera individually, and David Allan Coe’s vocals are perfect fit. It’s got all the elements of metal and country, and the blend is as smooth as Seagram’s Seven. The instrumental passage in the middle revels in rock glory, and then they tagged on a heavy Pantera outro for some headbanging.
The title track shows you just how country they are willing to get—and a little bit cheesy, too—but so long as they do it with big giant Pantera balls, just massive balls of lead dragging in the dirt, then they can pull off whatever the fuck they want. They probably have big cocks, too. These duds are on top of the world.
“Cowboys Do More Dope.” Shit. What else sounds like this? That groove, and the piano! It’s a new level. And the whole premise of this song is brilliant! It’s got some of the most badass lyrics ever put over a guitar: “Behind that clean face in the closet hooked on freebase, lurks another up and coming star. And cranked up cowboys just don’t feel right unless they’re high.” There is nothing to compare that to. And during the instrumental breaks in this song, listen to Rex Brown shred.
“Panfilo” is just a little acoustic interlude, but it’s one of the flourishes that makes this whole album feel like one cohesive project. It’s also serves as the intro for “Heart Worn Highway,” an acoustic and electric jam about a criminal on the lam.
“One Night Stands” is a balls-out rocker where Coe explains his lifestyle to some silly bitch. It’s the love song. Coe breaks it down: “I played some football in my younger days. Then I heard Hendrix sing ‘Purple Haze.’ That’s when I put together my first band. Now I’m only into one-night stands.” It’s just that simple.
“Arizona Rivers” is a slow, quiet track that helps round out the album. Dime shows off his talent for many guitar styles, playing soft hillbilly blues that Coe rounds out with his country flavor and an emotional take on the Arizona desert.
“Get Outta My Life” features Phil Anselmo, and the song as aggressive as country music will ever be. I can guarantee that country music will never be this heavy or have this much groove again. So if you’re going to listen to country, it may as well be this.
“Cherokee Cry” is a somber rocker about equality for Native Americans, cause why not? I bet Coe knows more about Indians than Anthrax.
“Time” is another monster track and a lyrical masterpiece. This one sounds like DAC took the purple acid and wrote his version of a metal song. And the refrain in the chorus really got to me: “Time is something you can’t steal.” Because I’m someone who steals a lot of shit, and when I heard that lyric and I had pause and say: “You know what? You fucking got me there. Dave.”
“No Compromise,” then, is a more metallic, darker cut. The first verses are out there, with DAC spouting paranoid nonsense. It’s ambiguous about exactly what they don’t compromise on, until the bridge. “No compromise—when it comes to drinking!” Suddenly this is a killer fucking drinking song, and on the musical break in the middle you can actually hear how much fun they’re having with this music. I can, anyway.
And the final song, “N.Y.C. Streets,” is a perfect closing track. It’s an acoustic jam which Dimebag quietly solos over with an electric. Meanwhile Coe improvises some lyrical genius in the form of nonsense Alzheimer rambling. It more funny than it is moving, but it’s all awesome.
Another thing I love about this album is the unique sound really allows you to hear Rex. The clean guitar tones allow the bass to reign supreme, and Rex is a benevolent ruler. I think that Rex Rocker is a definite contender for top ten metal bass players of all time. The man was the beloved Michael Anthony to the biggest metal band of the ’90s, he improved Down by no small measure, and he doesn’t have a single line in Vulgar Video. He’s just 100 percent consistent, and the fantastic sound on this album puts his performance right up front in every song.
Listen: Rebel Meets Rebel is Pantera rolling over the crest at the peak of their power. They’re collaborating together one last time on something new and original. They’re doing it off the cuff, as only they could, and they’re doing it with David Allan Coe instead of Phil. I suppose everything does, but this album more than others captures a special moment in time.
Where is the line of people around the country to give this album blowjob after blowjob? Even if you prefer Exhorder to Pantera: c’mon, Big Vin Records is sort of underground. Pretentious drug-crazed grindfreaks and unholier-than-thou black metal purists need to calm down and focus on what rocks.