Where The Great Southern Trendkill experimented with slower, moodier pieces, Reinventing the Steel finds Pantera sticking to the pulverizing basics of their sound, with the first down-tempo, nondistorted guitar part appearing on the next-to-last track, "It Makes Them Disappear," and vanishing about 15 seconds into the song.
In the tradition of the group's best albums, Reinventing the Steel is a nonstop assault on the senses, offering no respite from the intensity until the album has stopped playing.
Yet somehow, it comes off as a cut below their best albums; perhaps it's that the band's sound lacks the sense of freshness that sparked Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display of Power, and Far Beyond Driven, or perhaps it's simply good in a very predictable way (contrary to its title).
Yet even if Pantera is firmly entrenched in a signature sound, it's a distinctive, highly effective signature sound that most of the band's fans don't want to hear changed; plus, Dimebag Darrell is still one of the most inventive guitar players in heavy metal.
The bottom line is that the way you feel about Reinventing the Steel will likely depend on whether you object to more of the same; if not, then the lean focus of its attack -- the most concise, actually, since Vulgar Display -- will make it more than worthwhile.