By 1992, metal fans were in desperate need of fresh bombast. Metallica had gone mainstream with radio-friendly singles like "Nothing Else Matters," Rob Halford left Judas Priest the year prior, and Iron Maiden had long ago stopped delivering vital material. It was fortuitous, then, when six albums in — and their third with New Orleans powerhouse vocalist Phil Anselmo — Texas-based Pantera perfected its patented power groove. Vulgar was the apex of a career trajectory that began in hairspray and ended in heroin. The rat-a-tat drum bursts by Vinnie Paul on opener "Mouth for War" locked in with the late Diamond Darrell's eruptive riffing to set the tone for, to date, the last true landmark release of the genre. To call Darrell's shredding razor-sharp would be too much of a service to the cliché; it was more like a meat cleaver through a newborn's skull. Anselmo ditched his overwrought emulation of Halford's scream for a deep growl, delivering some of the most assured lyrics ever set to such a thick and focused soundtrack. He questioned authority, religion, and education, roaring about persevering through his trials with an indomitable inner-strength. "This Love" showed how to do light/heavy best, though closer "Hollow" drags on a bit too much before remembering the weight of all that preceded it and shifting into more hostile aggressiveness. The "lost track" here on this 20th anniversary reissue, "Piss," doesn't match up to the rest of the material; its best parts were later poached for "Use My Third Arm" on 1994's Far Beyond Driven. But the groove that flows through the original record is the muscle behind what mattered most: brothers Paul and Darrell, with bassist Rex Brown, were knotted tight, more than any other musical core on the scene. It was inspiring, intense, and essential in bringing headbangers to gigs and stirring up the pit.