What happens when you take a group of metal heads, give them all the whiskey, weed, and acid they can handle and then give them instruments? Why, Pantera, of course. A hard pounding metal quartet, Pantera has stood the test of time as one of the premier metal groups of the 1990's.
The Glam Years
Pantera got their start when brothers Darrel Lance Abbot and Vincent Paul Abbot first picked up their first instruments, Darrel a guitar, and Vincent the drums. In 1979, the brothers hooked up with bassist Rex Brown and singer/squealer Terrance Lee Glaze. The foursome worked together, honing their hair metal skills for the 1983 album, Metal Magic. On the liner notes, the band would be credited as Diamond Darrel, Vinnie Abbot, Rex Rocker and Terry Glaze. The cover art featured some lame cat-man who's head looks a lot like Brak from Space Ghost. Bad cover art aside, the album did open the door for Pantera. As bands tend to do, they hit the road to promote Metal Magic as a supporting act for Dokken, Stryper and Quiet Riot.
The follow-up to Metal Magic would be released in the following year. With Projects in the Jungle, Pantera continued their glam-tastic ways, sounding akin to early Def Leppard, although they did advance their sound by ditching the KISS nuances that they had in their first album. With their third album, I am the Night, they maintained the 80's cock-rocking cheese and bad cover-art that they started with (Although Valhalla is a pretty rockin' tune). This would be the last album with Terry Glaze (or Terrance Lee as he was credited on the disc).
The boys took some time off to get things together. In 1986, Terry was given the boot and was replaced for a short time. The boys didn't like his replacement and found a new one in Phillip Hansen Anselmo. In 1988, just when the musical world was beginning to tire of the glam swagger and began to embrace heavy metal, Pantera released its last hair metal album, Power Metal. The cover of this album pictured the band doing their best Guns N' Roses impression, complete with teased hair and leather. Many considered this album to lack the flair and sleekness of their previous efforts. Although, because of the Diamond one's fast and loud guitar work, he was offered a spot in Megadeth's guitar player merry-go-round by guitar god Dave Mustaine. Darrel turned down Mustaine's request, and decided on focusing on Pantera instead, although the idea of Mustaine and Dimebag playing together makes me drool.
More Metal than your mom’s kettle
Things would change for Pantera with Phil in the group. The band recognized the decline of hair metal and decided it was time for a change in sound. By 1990, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and GNR were climbing their way to the top of the metal heap. The cock rock and make-up was on the way out, which was good for everyone. At this time, Pantera had signed with the East West label, a subdivision of Atlantic Records. On it, they would release the breakthrough Cowboys From Hell. This album quickly became a favorite of metal heads everywhere. It was heavier than their previous efforts and contains one of the most beautiful power ballads, besides Fade To Black and the original, Dream On, of course, entitled Cemetery Gates. Right from the opening track, Cowboys From Hell displayed a powerful groove that would drive their songs until the end. IMHO, this is something that many modern metal acts strive to achieve, and fail miserably.
And then came the tour. Pantera traveled all across the United States, promoting their new album and their new sound. Darrel would also show off his skills as a cameraman as the band released its first VHS tape in 1991, called Cowboys From Hell: The Videos. This tape contained three music videos the band made, plus some live performances as well as interviews and yadda yadda. They would repeat the same process for their next album and their fourth as well.
How to follow up Cowboys? In 1992, Pantera released Vulgar Display of Power, considered by many to be their best effort. Vulgar contained hits right off the bat, including the ever-popular, and pit friendly, Walk, the live-show opening A New Level, and the first metal single to debut at #1, Mouth For War. Vulgar blew the minds of teenagers everywhere. Their detuned strings combined with the fast drumming of Vinnie Paul and Phil's incessant screams melded to create the best stress relief ever. But the boys from Texas weren't done yet.
With their third official release, Far Beyond Driven, Pantera shed the last of their connections to the 80s glam scene. Diamond Darrel changed his name to Dimebag, a reference to an amount of pot one could buy on the streets, and Phil shaved his head, officially making him the meanest motherfucker on the face of the planet. And mean they were. From the blistering opening track, to the tranquil closing cover of Black Sabbath's Planet Caravan, Far Beyond Driven is a wrecking ball aimed at your skull. If you thought the pits were insane before songs like 5 Minutes Alone and Becoming, you were in for a surprise. With this album, Pantera perfected their sound, relying on Dimebag to provide the killer riffs that would work the crowd into frenzy.
In May of 1996, Pantera continued their run as the Kings of Metal with the release of The Great Southern Trendkill. With this disc, they took the metal ideal to the fullest, declaring who Pantera was, and who Pantera always will be. Again driven by Dime's squealing guitar, he uses pinch harmonics combined with a wah wah pedal to make the noises, Trendkill was Pantera's most commercially successful album, not that they care about that shit. Drag The Waters, the first single from the album, received the most attention on modern rock radio; even being played a few times while it was light outside!
In 1997, Pantera gave the world a better taste of what they're all about as they released their first live album, Official Live: 101 Proof. This album was also their first release on Elektra Records, the same label that releases Metallica's albums. With this released, Pantera let the world know their philosophy, that they won't be any pussy shit trendy band, that they won't change their style or cut their hair, that they are who they are.
Then the band went on a short hiatus. During this time, Vinnie and Dime bought a strip club in Dallas called The Clubhouse. Also, the member started work in various side projects. Then they released their follow up to Trendkill. Fans were worried because they saw what had happened to Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax and were afraid that Pantera, even with their philosophy, would change their sound. All Pantera did was laugh as they released the most metal album of the year 2000, Reinventing the Steel. While it did bring more of the same, Reinventing did not have the killer cuts that permeated through their previous works. There was no stand out like Walk or This Love from Vulgar, or 5 Minutes Alone from Driven.
Currently, the band has not officially broken up, but they are on hiatus again. After opening for Black Sabbath, they headlined a tour and did Ozzfest for the second or third time. Dime, Rex and Vinnie did an album called Rebel Versus Rebel with country outlaw David Allen Coe. Dimebag and Vinnie are currently working in a band called Gasoline as well as taking care of their strip club. Rex and Phil, who has grown out his hair and beard and looks like a brunette Zakk Wylde, or really evil Chris Jericho, have been a part of Down, with Corrosion of Conformity's Pepper Keenan. I wouldn't expect Pantera to throw in the towel just yet though. There will always be a few metal bands that can claim that they were the kings of metal. Metallica was one once, as was Megadeth and Slayer. Many wonder if the torch has been passed to acts such as System of a Down and Slipknot, who have both put out incredible albums in the past two years.
Pantera have been known for a few things in their time, Dime's guitar work and Phil's screams, but also their love of Weed, Whiskey, Boobs and smokes. When I saw Pantera at the 2000 Ozzfest, Dimebag was doing shots of whiskey throughout the show, always shooting with the cameraman. On the Vulgar Video VHS, Phil brings out a smoking 2-foot long fake joint while Dime solos. They are notorious for their backstage parties, as well as their mosh pits.
Seeing pantera atleast 3 times live
Various Guitar World Magazines from 1997-2001
/me is mad jealous of theinfojunkie and wants to do shots with Pantera too :^(