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Sunday Old School: Pantera

It’s very close to that time of year again when metal fans all over the world pay their tributes to Dimebag Darrell Abbott, the legendary guitarist from Pantera who was murdered on stage on December 8th, 2004 while performing with his post-Pantera band, Damageplan. To understand why his death is so important to metal fans, it’s best to start, as all legends do, at the beginning. Darrell formed Pantera thirty years ago with his brother Vinnie Paul, along with guitarist Terry Glaze, vocalist Donnie Hart and bass player Tommy Bradford. Hart and Bradford left the group the same year, with the latter being replaced by Rex Brown, while the rest of the group decided that Darrell would be the bands sole guitar player. They soon became an underground favorite, touring throughout their native Texas, as well as Oklahoma and Louisiana, and supporting the likes of Quiet Riot and Dokken.

In 1983, the band released debut album, "Metal Magic" through its own record label of the same name with a second album, "Projects In The Jungle" following the next year. Both albums were very much in the glam metal vein but the second demonstrated the first hint of thrash metal influences, a style which was embellished on the third album, "I Am The Night."

Thrash metal soon crept its way into Pantera's sound permanently however, leading the group to part ways with Glaze and search for a more aggressive vocalist, which was found in New Orleans native, Phil Anselmo. With Anselmo, Pantera recorded the fourth album, "Power Metal," a hybrid of thrash metal and the popular hard rock style of the time. Following this release, Pantera decided to radically reinvent itself, shedding the big hair and make up the group had previously adorned and soon gained itself a manager in Walter O’ Brien, with a record deal coming shortly afterwards with Atco Records.

Despite now being considered something of a debut album for the band, the fifth album, "Cowboys From Hell" was released in 1990 and was instantly a hit with fans of the heavier side of metal, as well as some of their heroes such as Judas Priest and Slayer. It was certainly a breath of fresh air at the time, varied in sound but fluent, songs like the pummeling title track were just as much a part of the band's sound as the haunting epic, "Cemetery Gates." The band toured heavily to support the album, taking to the road with such respected acts as Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies and even earning a slot on the Monsters In Moscow festival with the likes of AC/DC and Metallica, in what was still the Soviet Union.

Pantera enhanced and embellished its groovy sound for the next album, "Vulgar Display Of Power," which was released in February of 1992. It featured more songs which became staples of the band's sound such as "Mouth For War" and perhaps most notably, "Walk," in addition to the eerily beautiful, "Hollow" and the break neck attack of, "Fucking Hostile." While the album was able to do well commercially, reaching number 44 on the American albums chart, its sales pales in comparison to the next album, "Far Beyond Driven," which debuted at the top of the charts in both the United States and Australia when it was released in 1994. The single, "I’m Broken" garnered Pantera a Grammy nomination (losing out to Soundgarden) but problems with band members soon surfaced. The Abbott brothers were engaged in something of a feud with Kerrang! magazine while Anselmo began behaving strangely according to the other members, who he distanced himself from, so much so that when it was time to record their next album, "The Great Southern Trendkill," Anselmo decided not to record with the rest of the band in Texas, preferring instead to work in New Orleans. Anselmo's problems continued after the album was released, most seriously in Texas, when he overdosed on heroin, resulting in his heart stopping for five minutes. Despite apologizing to his band mates, he spent considerable time with side projects such as Viking Crown.

Eventually however, a new Pantera album was recorded and released in 2000. "Reinventing The Steel" was not quite as acclaimed as some of the band's previous releases, but was considered something of a return to form after "The Great Southern Trendkill," which was overlooked by many. Pantera toured all over the world in support of the record, including the likes of Korea and Japan, which would ultimately prove to host the last Pantera show on August 28th. As soon as the band arrived in Europe to commence a European tour with Slayer, the September 11th tragedy happened, leaving the band stranded in Dublin for six days. Although a new home video was planned, along with another album, neither materialized and Anselmo instead focused his energy first to Down, the supergroup which also consisted of members of Crowbar, Corrosion Of Conformity and Eyehategod, and then to the hardcore styled Superjoint Ritual.

With Anselmo so focused on other projects, the frustrated brothers decided to disband Pantera in 2003, forming a new band with former Halford guitarist Pat Lachman entitled, Damageplan. While the real reasons remain unknown, the Abbotts and Anselmo engaged in a bitter and venomous feud, with both sides accusing the other of dishonesty. Tragically, the feud was never able to reach a mutual and peaceful end, as on December 8th at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio Dimebag Darrell Abbott, along with security guard Jeff "Mayhem" Thompson, club employee Erin Halk, and fan Nathan Bray, were murdered by mentally unstable Pantera fan, Nathan Gale, who was in turn shot dead by policeman, James Niggemayer.

Dimebag's death sent tidal waves throughout the heavy metal world, as big as those that devastated the hip-hop world when Tupac Shakur was murdered in 1996. Tributes from dozens upon dozens of bands poured in, with everyone from Black Sabbath to Anthrax posting messages online, with Machine Head, Black Label Society, Nickelback and countless others writing songs in memory of the slain guitarist. Anselmo himself was barred by Dimebags family members from attending the funeral and has since found all efforts to reconcile with Vinnie Paul to be rebuffed. After the devastating day in Columbus, the band members took some time to gather themselves before releasing new music, with Anselmo and Brown going back to Down, while Vinnie Paul formed a new band with members of Mudvayne and Nothingface called, Hellyeah, which has been successful at least on a commercial level. Both Down and Hellyeah are currently working on new material, with the first of four Down EP's expected to be released in February.

Pantera - "All Over Tonight"

Pantera - "Domination"

Pantera - "Mouth For War"

Pantera - "Hollow"

Pantera - "Planet Caravan"

Pantera - "Revolution Is My Name"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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25 Comments on "Sunday Old School: Pantera"

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Malevolent6's avatar

Member

1. Malevolent6 writes:

RIP Dimebag

Getcha Pull

# Dec 4, 2011 @ 8:31 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
brandedcfh420's avatar

Member

2. brandedcfh420 writes:

Pantera are still, IMO, the best band of 90s. They will always be my fave band of all time.

STRENGTH BEYOND STRENGTH
FOREVER STRONGER THAN ALL

# Dec 4, 2011 @ 9:56 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
heavy1's avatar

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3. heavy1 writes:

f***ING PANTERA! What else needs to be said, best band ever! RIP DIME and dont forget to throw back some blacktooths thursday.

# Dec 4, 2011 @ 1:05 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
wilco's avatar

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4. wilco writes:

yes he is still missed everyday love his guitar work and pantera rip brother dime

# Dec 4, 2011 @ 2:14 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
5. goric writes:

Great tapes! :)

# Dec 4, 2011 @ 2:56 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
METAL213's avatar

Member

6. METAL213 writes:

My all time favorite band! Dimebag is my hero and is forever missed by the entire rock/metal community

# Dec 4, 2011 @ 4:33 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
7. Damn writes:

I love Dime but Pantera sucks balls

# Dec 4, 2011 @ 6:57 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
silvermountains's avatar

Member

8. silvermountains writes:

Great article Oz,
CFH!

RIP BROTHER DIME.

# Dec 4, 2011 @ 8:06 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

9. Diamond Oz writes:

Cheers SM! Glad you enjoyed it.

# Dec 4, 2011 @ 8:49 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Netromancer's avatar

Member

10. Netromancer writes:

Gotta give it up for Rex and Vinnie too. Rex's playing always blows me away. How he keeps the song going during solo's with those fat walking bass runs. And Vinnie is always spot on. The guy looks like he's having a blast while he makes it look so damn easy. Those two are a powerhouse rhythm section. The band really was just a perfect storm of talent. RIP Brother Dime.

# Dec 4, 2011 @ 9:46 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Drum_Junkie's avatar

Member

11. Drum_Junkie writes:

Great SOS, Oz! Not being into Rap, I didn't even think of the similarity between Tupac fans and Dimebag fans. Great comparison.

This reminds me how lucky I've been to have seen Pantera in their prime on Vulgar, Driven, and Trendkill tours.

RIP Dimebag.

# Dec 5, 2011 @ 9:04 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
R10's avatar

Member

12. R10 writes:

Good write up Oz on these legends! Yea,from the early 90's through the late 90's Pantera were kings,flying the flag of true metal in this country. With both the grunge and hiphop explosion,metal declined in popularity during these times,at least in the States. Fortunate to have seen Pantera three times,such a great live band! I'll still never forget the massive pit at Giants Stadium for these guys,on '97 Ozzfest. They upstaged all that day,even the mighty reformed Sabbath!

# Dec 5, 2011 @ 9:29 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

13. Diamond Oz writes:

Thanks DJ, lucky you getting to see them on three different tours! I'm pretty jealous!

# Dec 5, 2011 @ 9:31 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
heavy1's avatar

Member

14. heavy1 writes:

REMEMBER THIS DAY AND KEEP IT HOLY, MISS YA DIME!

# Dec 8, 2011 @ 12:42 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
silvermountains's avatar

Member

15. silvermountains writes:

My favorite metal band of all time.

# Dec 8, 2011 @ 12:57 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
16. the guy writes:

RIP Dime! 12-8-04... Never Forget

# Dec 8, 2011 @ 7:52 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
17. cam666 writes:

R.I.P Dimebag

# Dec 8, 2011 @ 7:56 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
brandedcfh420's avatar

Member

18. brandedcfh420 writes:

I will forever cherish the 7 shows i saw of Pantera shredding the metal to all in attendance!!!

# Dec 8, 2011 @ 8:02 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
19. Paulypaul writes:

I had the good fortune to get really wasted with Dimebag (or Diamond as he was at the time) at the Megadeth pre-tour party in 92. He was a fun (mental!), intelligent, generous and extremely talented individual. Much love to him, his family and all the fans worldwide. He will never be forgotten. RIP Dimebag

# Dec 11, 2011 @ 8:55 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
20. YOUR GRANDMA A FUCKING SLUT BITCH writes:

Always forget 12 8 dime bag was a f***ing tool. Dude from A7X is by far the best guitarist ever in the world long live rockin with dokken

# Dec 13, 2011 @ 1:21 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Drum_Junkie's avatar

Member

21. Drum_Junkie writes:

^ nice trolling.

For the record, a dimebag is for fVcking smoking. A d|ldo is a fvcking tool. The guitarist for A7X more closely resembles such a sexual aid than Darrell Abbott does.

And for the record, my Grandma is one of the sweetest ladies on Gods green earth. So what if she had fourteen kids. They were all fathered by the same guy.

Happy trolling, you fvcking tool. ;)

# Dec 13, 2011 @ 1:32 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
hellrat's avatar

Member

22. hellrat writes:

^ha! :)

How the fvck did I miss this??? Musta been lost in the Desert somewheres chasin El Borrego

Frikken awesome Oz mate! I've always told ya yer the bestest!!

Am happy to have seen em live, if only 3 times...phil was pretty blown out on that last one, but I learned a lot from him in my formative years as a vocalist

Favorite PANTERA record will always be Cowboys from Fvckin HELL \m/

How's young Diamond's solo on 'The Sleep'??? fvckin rad, that's what

NP---The Art of Shredding---CFH

# Dec 13, 2011 @ 3:10 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
23. YOUR GRANDMAS STILL A SLUT AND SAID SHE WANT TO LICK MY HAIRY NUTS AND HAVE MY BABY TO MAKE IT 15. writes:

Sorry fvck face im farthest thing from a troll. Trolls usuallt type in caps and i am clearly not. And i hate to break it to you buy your grandma was most definetly a slut. She had how many kids again you say. 14 fvcking kids. holy sh**. Her gap must be as wide as Kentucky state. Ha, I'd love to step up to the plate and drop off one last load for here so she could have 15 youngsters. But i bet you are her biggest disapointment. And i did change my mind about A7X. Pig Champion is the most underated guitarest with his big fat fvcking gut.

# Dec 13, 2011 @ 11:11 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
24. Grandma writes:

You're not doing much to convince us otherwise, sonny boy.
I am also declining your offer. ya see, my precious 14 kids were made with 1 man that I loved. that makes me faithful and not a slut. go find some little boy your own age.

Dimebag is someone I am proud of. may he rest in peace.

# Dec 14, 2011 @ 7:45 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
25. Jovan writes:

A7x sucks guitar wise i could play bat country and tge afterlife solo at 2 years of playing. Guthrie Govan is the most underrated guitarist ever. For metal it Paul Waggoner

# Dec 17, 2011 @ 3:00 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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