Cowboys from Hell

Cowboys from Hell
Studio album by Pantera
Released July 24, 1990 (1990-07-24)
Recorded 1989 Dallas Sound Lab, Irving, Texas
Genre Groove metal, thrash metal, heavy metal
Length 57:29
Label Atco
Producer Terry Date
Pantera chronology
Power Metal
Cowboys from Hell
Vulgar Display of Power
Demo cover
Cowboys from Hell: The Demos

Cowboys from Hell is Pantera's fifth album and their first Atco Records album, recorded at The Dallas Sound Lab in Irving, TX and released on July 24, 1990. This was their first commercially successful album, exposing the band's groove metal style to mainstream audiences. Cowboys from Hell is seen as Pantera's "official" debut by most fans, as well as the band itself as they left behind their glam metal past and began to exhibit a more groove metal-oriented sound. After its release, a logo for the band was made featuring the letters 'CFH' (the abbreviation of the album title) in a circular design.


Writing and recording

After being turned down "28 times by every major label on the face of the Earth", Atco Records representative Mark Ross was asked by his boss, Derek Shulman (who was interested in signing them), to see the band perform after Hurricane Hugo stranded him in Texas. Ross was so impressed by the band's performance that he called his boss that night, suggesting that Pantera be signed to the label.

Ross on the performance:

"By the end of the first song, my jaw was on the floor. The sonic power of it all — the attitude and the musicianship — blew me away. Basically, you had to be an idiot to not think they're amazing. I mean, how could you see these guys and not think, Holy shit!?"[1]

Atco Records accepted, and at the close of 1989, the band began writing and recording its major label debut at Pantego Studios. The band adopted a new sound and attitude, and the writing of what would become Cowboys from Hell saw the band exploring darker subject matters, while the guitar would be notably heavier, despite occasionally reverting to the hair metal formula. The band recorded Cowboys from Hell: The Demos, a self-produced demo album which featured 11 tracks, 10 of which would make the album cut. The last two tracks to be written were "Clash With Reality" and "Primal Concrete Sledge", while a song entitled "The Will to Survive" would be discarded early in the recording sessions.

Recording took place in Irving, Texas at the Dallas Sound Lab and the band were feeling confident about their material and themselves, finally feeling that they were making the kind of album they believed in. One key track to emerge during the writing was Cemetery Gates, a seven-minute power ballad that would be the first song to show both their diversity and Anselmo’s vocal range. Although they had already recorded four albums prior to Cowboys from Hell, Pantera felt that this was their true debut, working with a professional producer and a major label for the first time and creating music that was not simply stealing from other similar bands in an attempt to attract attention.[2]

Cover art

The cover art depics the band in a quaint western saloon. Dimebag Darrell is pictured in the center playing guitar, while Vinnie Paul is to his right counting money, Rex Brown is leaning against the countertop and Phil Anselmo is shown jumping in the air to Brown's left. Anselmo states that he jumped off a bar stool to get high up in the air. He also said that it took him about ten takes until the cameramen got the shot into the desired style.[3]

Release and reception

Commercial performance

The album was released on July 24, 1990 and was available on tape, CD, vinyl and a Limited Edition version (Same album but in a long box). The album would become the band's breakthrough record as it became their first album to chart in 1992, reaching #27 on the Billboard Music Charts Top Heatseekers. The 2010 reissue of the album managed to reach #117 on the Billboard Top 200 and #8 on the Catalog Albums selling 4,200.[4][5] The album has since gone on to attain both Gold (500,000 units) and Platinum (1,000,000 units) certifications in the U.S. as well as Gold status in the U.K. for sales of 100,000.[6]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars link
BBC Music favourable link
Metal Storm 9.5/10 stars link
MSN Music 4/5 stars link
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5 stars link
The Daily Vault C+ link

The album has been praised by most critics as it would prove to be one of the most influential albums in the metal scene in the 1990's and of all time, and would inspire a generation of musicians, particularly guitarists. IGN named Cowboys from Hell the 19th most influential heavy metal album of all-time.[7]

They said about the album:

"Along with Vulgar Display of Power, Pantera's fifth album is not only considered one of the band's best, but is also one of the defining albums of early '90s metal. The band's chemistry really begins to gel with collective symmetry here, as a pre-Dimebag Darrell (he was known as Diamond Darrell back then) rips the strings of his axe like a rabid weasel, frontman Phil Anselmo following in kind with chaotic vocal utterances, and the rhythm section of Vinnie Paul and Rex Brown keeping the rhythms in check and the whole mess glued together with low end prowess."

Allmusic says about the album:

"Pantera's breakthrough album, Cowboys from Hell, is largely driven by the band's powerful rhythm section and guitarist Diamond Darrell(s) unbelievably forceful riffing, which skittered around the downbeats to produce unexpected rhythmic phrases and accents, as well as his inventive soloing."


On November 22, 2010,[8] a 20th anniversary edition was released with a remastered mixed from the original analog recordings. The expanded edition features a bonus CD of previously unreleased live recordings and the Alive And Hostile E.P. The deluxe edition features an additional third CD[9][10] with the previously unreleased demo track "The Will to Survive" (parts of the song were later used in the song This Love from Vulgar Display of Power) along with demo versions of ten songs from the original album.[11]

The third disc of the deluxe set, Cowboys from Hell: The Demos, was released as a separate limited-edition vinyl LP at the same time.[9] It was exclusively available at Metal Club record stores.[8][10]


The album was ranked #11 on the October 2006 issue of Guitar World magazine's list of the greatest 100 guitar albums of all time.[12] It was ranked the #85 best heavy metal album of all time by[13] IGN named Cowboys from Hell the 19th most influential heavy metal album of all-time. Cemetery Gates was nominated for Best Metal Perfomance at the 1998 Grammy Awards but lost to Ænema by Tool.


Pantera toured alongside thrash acts Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies. In 1991, Rob Halford performed with the band onstage, which led Pantera to open for Judas Priest on its first show in Europe. The band eventually landed a billing for "Monsters in Moscow" with AC/DC and Metallica in September 1991, where they played to a crowd of over 500,000 in celebration of the new freedom of performing Western music in the former Soviet Union shortly before its collapse three months later.


The song "Domination" has been covered by the Finnish band Apocalyptica, and is featured on their second album, Inquisition Symphony.

Spanish thrash metal band Angelus Apatrida also covered "Domination" on their album Evil Unleashed.

Texas Band Pissing Razors covered "Domination" for a compilation CD.

Bullet For My Valentine covered "Domination" on the Tears Don't Fall single.

UK thrash band Evile covered "Cemetery Gates" for Metal Hammer's Dimebag tribute CD.

Between the Buried and Me covered "Cemetery Gates" for their covers album The Anatomy Of.

Michael Angelo Batio covered "Cemetery Gates" and "Cowboys From Hell" together in his album Hands Without Shadows 2: Voices.

Dream Theater have covered "Cemetery Gates" live, they also played the live cover during 2005's Gigantour, a festival put together by Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine, he played as a guest on lead guitar along with other guests Burton C. Bell (vocalist of Fear Factory and City of Fire) and Russell Allen (vocalist of Symphony X).

Brazillian harcore band Glória covered "Domination" and "Walk" live at the Rock in Rio 4 on September 25, 2011.

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Pantera

No. Title Length
1. "Cowboys from Hell"   4:06
2. "Primal Concrete Sledge"   2:13
3. "Psycho Holiday"   5:19
4. "Heresy"   4:46
5. "Cemetery Gates"   7:02
6. "Domination"   5:04
7. "Shattered"   3:22
8. "Clash with Reality"   5:16
9. "Medicine Man"   5:15
10. "Message in Blood"   5:10
11. "The Sleep"   5:45
12. "The Art of Shredding"   4:19

Disc 2: Expanded Edition Bonus CD

Live: Foundations Forum (1990)

No. Title Length
1. "Domination" (Live At Foundations Forum 1990) 4:55
2. "Psycho Holiday" (Live At Foundations Forum 1990) 5:25
3. "The Art of Shredding" (Live At Foundations Forum 1990) 5:47
4. "Cowboys from Hell" (Live At Foundations Forum 1990) 5:03
5. "Cemetery Gates" (Live At Foundations Forum 1990) 7:01
6. "Primal Concrete Sledge" (Live At Foundations Forum 1990) 3:51
7. "Heresy" (Live At Foundations Forum 1990) 5:12

Alive and Hostile EP

No. Title Length
8. "Domination" (Live At Monsters In Moscow 1991) 7:01
9. "Primal Concrete Sledge" (Live At Monsters In Moscow 1991) 3:17
10. "Cowboys from Hell" (Live At Foundations Forum 1990 - Edit) 4:16
11. "Heresy" (Live At Foundations Forum 1990 - Edit) 4:59
12. "Psycho Holiday" (Live At Monsters In Moscow 1991) 5:50

Disc 3: Cowboys from Hell: The Demos

Only available on the 'Deluxe' and 'Ultimate' editions of the album[8][10]

No. Title Length
1. "The Will to Survive"   4:14
2. "Shattered" (demo) 4:47
3. "Cowboys from Hell" (demo) 7:03
4. "Heresy" (demo) 4:42
5. "Cemetery Gates" (demo) 5:19
6. "Psycho Holiday" (demo) 5:09
7. "Medicine Man" (demo) 4:52
8. "Message in Blood" (demo) 4:57
9. "Domination" (demo) 4:45
10. "The Sleep" (demo) 6:15
11. "The Art of Shredding" (demo) 4:11

Cowboys from Hell: The Demos

The album contains all the necessary demos for the final recording of their major label debut, Cowboys from Hell.

The track listing in the demo differs from the album version. The intro track on the demo does not appear on the final album version, though it has been used as an intro song for many Pantera shows worldwide. The album version also contains the songs "Primal Concrete Sledge" and "Clash with Reality", which do not appear on this demo. Several songs on the demo contain different lyrics and different guitar solos to the final version.[citation needed]

Another important note is that the demo has been classed as self produced in the section marked label. This is because it was not officially released on the band's 'Metal Magic Records' record label.[citation needed]

The demos were released on the band's 20th anniversary edition of their major label debut. The demos of the deluxe version however, feature the same tracklist as the original demos, although the "Intro" has been replaced by a previously unreleased track, "The Will To Survive", that was written during the same sessions but resembles a sound closer to their previous album effort Power Metal (1988) than the groove metal sound evident on the other demos. The demos were re-released on Black Friday 2010 and were limited to 3,000 180-gram pressings, with the vinyl including the custom cover and demos of the original tracks, as well as the previously unreleased demo cut, “The Will To Survive”.[14]

Track listing

No. Title Length
1. "Intro"   1:33
2. "Shattered"   3:28
3. "Cowboys from Hell"   4:18
4. "Heresy *"   4:51
5. "Cemetery Gates"   5:35
6. "Psycho Holiday *"   5:24
7. "Medicine Man *"   5:08
8. "Message In Blood *"   5:06
9. "Domination"   5:00
10. "The Sleep"   6:01
11. "Art of Shredding"    

NOTE - All marked with an * include different lyrics to the official debut.[citation needed] Demos of the album's tracks were also released in 2010, in the 20th anniversary edition of Cowboys from Hell, but with a different tracklisting.


Charts and certifications

Year Chart Peak
1992 Top Heatseekers 27
1995 Swedish Albums Chart[15] 46
2010 Billboard 200[16] 117
Catalog Albums Chart[16] 8
Country Certification Date Sales certified
U.S.[17] Gold September 14, 1993 500,000
U.S.[17] Platinum July 16, 1997 1,000,000
U.K.[18] Gold September 2006 100,000


  • Philip Anselmo has the "CFH" logo tattooed on the side of his head with a ring of barbed wire surrounding it.
  • The song "Cowboys from Hell" is featured on the PlayStation 2 game Guitar Hero and a live version of the song is featured in Guitar Hero: Smash Hits.


  1. ^ BLABBERMOUTH.NET - PANTERA: 'Cowboys From Hell: The Demos' To Be Released On Limited-Edition Vinyl
  2. ^ MAKING OF THE ALBUM: Pantera - Cowboys from Hell |
  3. ^ Pantera's Cowboys From Hell Turns 20: An Interview with Philip Anselmo | News | Down
  4. ^ BLABBERMOUTH.NET - PANTERA: 20th-Anniversary Reissue Of 'Cowboys From Hell' Lands On BILLBOARD Chart
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ IGN: Top 25 Metal Albums
  8. ^ a b c "PANTERA: 'Cowboys From Hell: The Demos' To Be Released On Limited-Edition Vinyl - Nov. 11, 2010". Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  9. ^ a b "Pantera reissue Cowboys from Hell: The Demos for Black Friday". Consequences of Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  10. ^ a b c "PANTERA ‘Cowboys From Hell: The Demos’ To Be Released On Limited-Edition Vinyl". Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  11. ^ Pantera's Cowboys From Hell To Receive Deluxe, 20th Anniversary Edition Re-Issue - Dallas Music - DC9 At Night
  12. ^ BROADCAST NEWS Discussion
  13. ^ "The Top 100 heavy metal albums". 
  14. ^ Staples, Derek (November 26th, 2010). "Pantera reissue Cowboys from Hell: The Demos for Black Friday". Consequence of Sound.
  15. ^ "Pantera - Cowboys From Hell". 
  16. ^ a b "Cowboys from Hell - Pantera". Billboard. 
  17. ^ a b U.S. certifications (Retrieved December 22, 2009)
  18. ^

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cowboys from Hell — студийный альбом …   Википедия

  • Cowboys From Hell — Album par Pantera Sortie 24 Juillet 1990 Durée 57:41 Genre(s) Groove metal Producteur(s) Terry Date Label …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cowboys from Hell — Studioalbum von Pantera Veröffentlichung 24. Juli 1990 Label Atlantic Records …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cowboys from Hell — Album par Pantera Sortie 24 Juillet 1990 Durée 57:41 Genre Groove metal Producteur Terry Date Label …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cowboys from Hell — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Cowboys from Hell Álbum de Pantera Publicación 24 de julio de 1990 Grabación 1989 1990 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Cowboys From Hell — Pantera – Cowboys From Hell Label Atlantic Records Format(e) CD Genre(s) Thrash Metal Laufzeit 57:41 Min. Besetzung Gesang: Phil Anse …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cowboys From Hell — …   Википедия

  • Cowboys from Hell (song) — Cowboys from Hell Single by Pantera from the album Cowboys from Hell …   Wikipedia

  • Cowboys from Hell: The Videos — Video (VHS) by Pantera Released …   Wikipedia

  • Cowboys from Hell Demos — Infobox Album | Name = Cowboys from Hell Demos Type = demo Artist = Pantera Released = 1989 Genre = Groove metal, heavy metal, thrash metal Length = 50:48 Label = Self Produced Last album = Power Metal (1988) Last This album = Cowboys from Hell… …   Wikipedia

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