“Cowboys from Hell” Cowboys from Hell (1990)
With its razor-sharp riff, pummeling groove and ominous “we’re taking over this town” refrain, “Cowboys from Hell” started life as a rallying cry for the reborn version of Pantera circa 1989. As the first track on Pantera’s major-label debut of the same name, it quickly became the band’s anthem for the rest of its existence.
The song proclaimed in no uncertain terms that Pantera meant serious business as the next contenders to metal’s throne, while Dimebag Darrell’s delicious solo boldly announced that a new guitar hero was in town and loaded for bear. Although “Cowboys from Hell” was allegedly the first song that Pantera wrote for the album, by the time Pantera finished recording Cowboys from Hell they contemplated cutting it from the final version. The band felt that the song seemed too tame and commercial compared to the album’s other material, particularly the newer songs they wrote in the studio while recording.
Pantera’s manager, Walter O’Brien, convinced them otherwise.
“I knew that Pantera were going to be called the Cowboys from Hell from then on,” he says. “Every great band has a nickname. Bruce Springsteen is the Boss. ZZ Top is that Little Ol’ Band from Texas. Cowboys from Hell was perfect for them. I rarely insist on anything creative from a band, but I just knew it was a massive song. Dimebag put the CFH logo on everything, and he lived that persona.”