I'm mixed on it.
I'll make this fairly brief; Any remaster I've ever heard that is done by Rhino is always top notch. Most are above that, and are just plain glorious. This one is pretty much no different.
Even with the naked ear, there's definitely a clearer sound.
Tracks 1-7 are listed as the Foundations Forum show from September 1990. That is all accurate. It's nice getting these tunes on a release that's better than a bootleg. However, they're only somewhat better. They still sound a little rough for something being put on an official disc. I'd like to think they could have taken the time to try and clean them up a little.
Tracks 8-12 are listed as from the Moscow show in 1991. This is only true for a few of them. This is indeed the Alive and Hostile EP, but not all the songs on the original Alive and Hostile EP were from Moscow. Even worse, the ones that aren't from Moscow are the SAME FUCKING RECORDINGS
as the Foundations show on tracks 1-8.
- 8. Domination is from Moscow
- 9. Primal Concrete Sledge is from Moscow
- 10. Cowboys from Hell is NOT from Moscow. It is the same recording as track #4 on this disc.
- 11. Heresy is NOT from Moscow. It is the same recording as track #7 on this disc.
- 12. Psycho Holiday is from Moscow.
From anything I've ever read, Pantera played four songs in Moscow. The one not included on this is Cowboys From Hell. The only place that is available (to my knowledge) is on Part 2 of the I'm Broken/Slaughtered single. (Part 2 also has Psycho Holiday and Part 1 has Domination and Primal Concrete Sledge.) Heresy, again, from everything I've ever read, was not played at the Moscow show. I was surprised to see it listed on here when the press releases were coming out, and excited to hear it.
There's also no touch-up done to the Moscow tracks from the original releases on the I'm Broken/Slaughtered singles. The volume is slightly
louder on this release, but that's it.
Disc 3 (The Demos):
The production is pretty solid on these, especially for being demos. I'm not through it all yet but Cemetery Gates is a definite must-listen. During the main verses there's an interesting acoustic track that's different from the original. There's also no acoustic intro like on the original, and Phil's vox are dialed back just slightly from the harshness of the original refrains.
For the hardcorers there's The Will to Survive. Cowboys From Hell doesn't sound too different to me. That's the case for several of the songs. A lot of them are just a rawer version of the final product. You definitely get a cleaner/closer listen to Phil's vocals on these, however you want to describe that.
So, the question I was asked is, "Is it worth it?" I sort of have to preface my answer. When I saw the extra live goodies that were being attached to this, I was fairly pumped. After hearing them and seeing what we got, I'm sort of disappointed in that portion of it. Like I said with Disc 1, the Rhino remaster is as good as they typically always are. I've thought for a while that CFH could use a solid remaster if the original integrity was intact. It was. The demos are an interesting aspect, and like I said, have pretty solid sound. I find discs 1 and 3 to have the most value here, at least put up against my current collection. I already had the Moscow tracks released here in their same finished format, and had the Foundations stuff on bootlegs. Like I said, the quality here is a little better, but I was really expecting more with both of these.
The 3-pack edition was listed at $24.99 and I paid $20.99 today. Since I'll sell my original copy of CFH, this will probably be around $17 or $18 for this. I'd say it was worth it.
Plea to Pantera: When you get to the Vulgar and FBD remasters/re-releases, please don't just release the Biomechanical remixes on Vulgar and the four Brixton tracks that could all be found on other releases, as the extras for those respective albums. There's gotta be some goodies out there that no one has heard and few have had access to.