Van Halen….. that’s the last thing that Dimebag and Vinnie Paul said to each other just before they went on stage on December 8th 2004. They did it every gig. In their eyes, the Van Halen brothers were having the best rocking time and they saw it as an homage to their musical heroes. The Van Halen brothers did indeed rock, and live the Rock n Roll lifestyle. But Abbott brothers…. they gave the the V.H. bothers a run for their money. Either way – without these pair of brotherly duo’s, today’s music landscape would look/sound a little different. (One little known parallel between both sets of brothers, is that the guitarists (Eddie and Dimebag) both started out as drummer and the drummers (Vinnie and Alex) started out as guitarists.
So, the history – They came, they, rocked and they blew the roof off (GETCHA PULL!!). From the early days back in the early 80’s Dimebag was a cut above the rest. From about 14 he was entering (and winning) local guitar competitions until they refused to let him enter – Rumour has it that at 18 he was asked to be a judge in these competitions. Videos like this show how mind-blowing his solos were. (Spot the Randy Rhoads parts)
So even though they had the spandex, back-combed hair and glitter stuff that most hair-metal bands had, they still rocked harder.
They are released 4 albums before the ground breaking C.F.H.
– Metal Magic (1983)
– Projects in the Jungle (1984)
– I am the night (1985
– Power Metal (1988) – First album with Phil A. in the band)
Not many people have these, which is a shame. They are pure slabs of un-adulterated rock, with the insertions of genius running through as you would expect from the brothers Abbott.
I think here I need to head off on a little tangent – When you think of Pantera….. most people think of the ripping lead work or crushing riffs from Dimebag. If you listen closely to the tracks (turn the volume up, and put your ear to the speaker), you can hear that the true genius of Pantera is…. All of them – The rhythm section (Rex an Vinnie) are tight so everything on top if going to sound solid (think of the foundations of a house – If the foundations are rubbish, then the house will crumble). Obviously on top of the Rhythm section you have Dimebag ripping it…. But you also have the voice of one of the best frontmen to errr front a band. Phil Anselmo really can do it all. Genius allround.
COWBOYS FROM HELL (1990)
1990 comes around. All the big bands have huge albums out and Rock is growing more genres then you can shake a stick at. Grunge is riding high. But four guys from the South are couped up in a studio creating something that is going to change the heavy metal landscape and eventually let people know that you can have a pink beard and be cool (GETCHA PULL!!)
CFH was the bands first commercial success. They were signed (28 major labels turned them down – bet they were all kicking themselves when this album come out).
Here’s a bit of trivia for you – The Epic intro to the song Cowboys From Hell…. You know, the one that starts at a rock club and you and your friends put your drinks down and head to the dance floor, get the metal stance and get the air guitars ready because you know that in a few seconds you will be head banging and air guitaring to one of the hottest metal riffs ever!!!….. yeah that intro. Well apparently that’s the recording from the demo. Dime (or Diamond Darryl as he was known then) couldn’t get it sounding as good when went to record for the proper takes.
This album brings back SO many memories for me – There used to be a rock bar in my home town and every night I went in there I would put ‘The Art of shredding’ or ‘Domination’ on the jukebox. Also, in the local club, I was one of those guys who, when I heard the start of ‘Cowboys from Hell’ I rushed to the floor to make sure I was ready in the stance for THAT riff.
Critical reception –
The album initially peaked at #27. It’s since gone on to be certified Platinum
VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER (1992)
Well how does a band follow C.F.H.? it’s a tricky one. But they managed it. When they went in to record this album, they only had three songs demoed, the rest was written in the studio without much pre-production or demoing. I love all of the Pantera albums, all for different reasons….. this one…. Is just sounding so heavy and tight and BRUTAL. So, C.F.H. was heavy and ground breaking, this album took it to the next level.
I’m very interested in music production and I think this album has one of the best sounding drum kits I’ve every heard.
I first heard this album in about 1993. A friend of mine at school gave me a tape with this on one side and Chaos AD by Sepultura on the other side – That tape was in my tape deck constantly.
Personally for me there’s a couple of tracks that are ‘throw away tracks’….. Ha Ha who am I kidding. All of the songs are great – Just different levels of genius. Stand out songs for me on this would be ‘Walk’ – That riff is simple and massive and used to perfection, ‘By Demons be driven’ – I have it tattooed on me….. need I say more and ‘This Love’ – That mellow riff is just absolutely gorgeous and the solo is mind-blowing sexy….. the music video is supercool too.
Trivia – the album notes for this show that Diamond Darryl was now Dimebag Darryl and Rex Rocker was now rex Brown!
From what I understand, this is the album where Vinnie starts to get into engineering and production – Maybe it’s his work that helps created the tight heavy sound that many bands have used as a reference for making their albums sound so heavy.
Critical reception –
The album didn’t breaking into the top 40 (sign of the times with this kind of music and the world at the time), but it was certified Gold in 1993 and is now a double platinum album….. I guess the fact that it’s sold more than 2,000,000 is praise enough.
So, We will leave this album here and move on, but just before we do – Here’s the video for This Love. Great video/Amazing song/Sexy as hell solo
OFFICIAL HOME VIDEOS
I think part of the magic of Dimebag and Vinnie (and the reason Pantera were as huge and influential as they were is because of the bond these two had. They never grew up. They were still kids – Who got paid to play to 100,000’s or people/travel the world AND they did with their friends. BUT most importantly, when it was time for business…. They got it on the nail. I don’t think I’ve read a bad gig review. Legend has it that Dime (on occasion) was SO drunk that he had to be carried offstage after the show, but he didn’t miss a note.
What I’m trying to say is that these videos show the fun, the love, the brother-hood that created the monster….. Oh, if you don’t know anything about these videos it’s basically Dimebag filming EVERYTHING on a camcorder. Live shows/Touring/Messing about/Stupid skits/Drinking sessions/Fireworks (GETCHA PULL!!). remember Jackass? It’s basically Jackass with great soundtrack and Dime’s infectious laughter.
I interviewed Krusher last year for a couple of shows. He had the pleasure of touring with the Ozzyfest in 1999. He got to know Dimebag and the rest of the Pantera guys well (still speaks to Phil and Rex). He recalls the storey that he was walking passed their dressing room and Dimebag and Rex were stood outside with a drink in one hand and a steel baseball bat in other. Dimebag looks at Krusher and says ‘Krusher man, you wouldn’t believe what happened. While were out, some crazy kids got into our dressing room and trashed it.’ Krusher observed water flowing out through the door. He went in to find everything that was breakable, was broken including the toilet and sink – smashed to pieces. Remember what I said about them being like kids, get payed to play…..
Do yourself a favour and go to Amazon and buy the Pantera home videos – Hours of stupid mindless fun.
I also wanted to share this great moment from the videos. It’s Dimebag talking about how energy in music is more important than getting things 100% right. It’s very very true.
FAR BEYOND DRIVEN (1994)
The follow up to the previous ground breaking albums, is more ground breaking- it was the first metal album to debut at number one. Not just their first….. the first in history. It’s a darker, heavier album. It’s immensely brutal. The riffs are huge and the production is great. This is the part where I single out a song to take about it….. I can’t. There isn’t a single song on this album that isn’t monstrously huge!!! This album came out when I was about to go to College. I played it loud (as it should be). They Metalhead girl next door would say ‘I heard you playing Far Beyond Driven’ again lastnight’.
This album was another change of direction for the band. Most of the music is tuned down making it feel dark. Interestingly enough they tuned down to C# which is the low tuning that Black Sabbath used for the heavier stuff – ie Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. This album also has great cover of a Sabbath song. Now, when you are told that Pantera were doing a Sabbath cover, your mind goes through all of the heavy Sabbath songs that would be good choices – Good idea, but Pantera went the opposite direction, and did a great cover of the dreamy, trip acoustic Planet Caravan….. and its beautiful.
On a personal note, this is the year that I got to see Pantera live. Donington ’94! It was a double edged sword for me – Pride n Glory, Therapy, sepulture…. Great and bouncy. I managed to get myself right to the front for Sepultura. Sadly, as I jumped up with the crowd, someone rolled across the top crushing my spine. The medics wanted to send me away but there was no way I was going to miss Pantera. So I stood about 50 metres out, on the edge of a pit, not moving at all partly because of the pain, and partly because I was mesmerised by the onslaught that was onstage. Extreme had to follow them – I bet they were crapping themselves!!!!
GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL (1996)
Hmmmm, I have a strange relationship with this album. Yes, it’s good but in my opinion it’s not up to scratch of the previous tracks. Strangely the stand out tracks on this album are the mellower ones – ‘Floods’ and ‘Suicide note Pt. 1’. Looking back now, I think this is where the wheels started to fall off the Pantera wagon. Phil Anselmo was distancing himself from the rest of the band – It turns out that for a while he had been self medicating for chronic back pain. I believe he O.D.d in the previous tour and this caused pressures in the band. There’s assorts of videos of Pantera from this time where Phil is rambling incoherently on stage. I also believe that this is the first album where film recorded his vocals separately from the band, in another studio.
I’m not knocking any member of the band. The performances on this album are brilliant. The production is good. It’s just lacking the magic from before. But that being said – It reached No. 4 in the American chart and stayed in the charts for 16 weeks and has been certified Platinum so maybe my doubts are wrong.
OFFCIAL :101 PROOF (1997)
I’m guessing that the banded needed to take a break to sort out the inner struggles. So they put out this live album.
I’m a fussy bugber – I’m not a big fan of live albums. When you’re a massive bands and you spend time in the studio creating layers of metal that fill a stereo, it’s difficult to get that same feeling when there are no layers. I’m not knocking Pantera as a live band (one of the best), but this album although it shows how heavy they were, and how they nailed, and interacted with the crowd, it doesn’t re-create the magic of seeing them live. The raw power. The volume. The pack mentality etc. So for me – Meh.
However, the two new studio tracks were amazing – Truly Pantera back on form
The album reached No. 15 in the Billboard charts and stayed in the charts for 12 weeks.
So again, I guess I’m wrong!!!
REINVENTING THE STEEL (2000)
This album is another ‘bitter/sweet’ album for me. In my opinion it’s miles better than ‘Great Southern Trendkill’. Every track is great. Again it’s different from the previous albums. But the riffs are still grooving. There isn’t a stand up track on this album – They’re all great. It’s weird – when I got the album, it used to be the one that I played when I went to the gym and even now when I listen to the tracks my mind is transported back to that gym. (I think that’s the great thing about Music, it can transport you and uplift you).
– ‘Revolution is my name’ was nominated for a Grammy, but lost to Deftones…. Still a great accolade, especially for something so heavy.
– ‘Death Rattle shake’ – part of this song featured in a episode of Sponge Bob Squarepants.
It peeked at No. 4 in the charts and has been certified Gold, but yet to reach Platinum status.
FAR BEYOND PANTERA
By the time ‘Reinventing the Steel’ came out the band were barely talking to each other. It’s a sad state of affairs that things ended so badly. The bands put themselves in ‘Hiatus’ mode for two years. Phil needed time off for some major back surgery. Dimebag, Vinnie and Rex were itching to create…
REBEL MEETS REBEL (2006)
This album was recorded in the Hiatus period of Pantera. It’s a country metal album. It’s Dimebag, Vinnie and Rex and an American country artist called David Allan Coe.
On paper, this album shouldn’t work….. but it does. I think it works because Dimebag, Vinnie and Rex were just having fun – They had re-discovered their inner kids again….. doing it for fun. The music has elements of It’s different to Pantera ofcourse, but I think that’s what Dimebag, Vinnie and Rex needed/wanted.
It just feels like fun. Every song has that fun vibe. For example ‘Rebel meets rebel’. Dimebag does joint lead vocals ‘It’s just a get together of country metal minds’…. ‘When Rebel meets rebel we’re partners in crime’. Even the riff on this song is heavy as hell. There’s no guitar solo…. There’s a violin solo….. on a track with Dimebag on. But works. This is one of my ‘happy place’ albums. It’s always guaranteed to put a smile on my face
The track ’N.Y.C. streets’ was an improved jam – Dimebag jamming on the acoustic and Dave Allen Coe making up lyrics on the spot. Then they over dubbed the street sounds and the other guitars.
NEW FOUND POWER (2004)
This was the debut album from Vinnie and Dimebag’s new band ‘Damageplan’
This album is a great record. It has the grooving riffs and pounding drums that you would expect from the bothers Abbott. Sadly I personally would say that there are 3 outstanding tracks on this album ‘Breathing new life’, ‘New Found power’ and ‘Wake up’. The rest of the songs are good, but you just feel that it’s lacking the Pantera magic. Pat Lachman on vocals and Bobzilla on bass OBVIOUSLY have big boots to fill, and they do a great job. AND to be fair – not many people can write songs as well we any song on this album.
The album debuted in the top 40, selling 45,000 copies in the first week, which is good work.
The band had demoed stuff for a second album which we may hear one day 🙁
Damageplan were cut short on December 8th 2004. You know the story. Lunatic + gun = broken hearts.
My heart was broken by the events of that night. But no ones heart was broken as much as that of Vinnie Paul. It’s horrific to think about what happened, and how he must of felt. Dime died doing what he loved – entertaining people. Rocking out.
It’s corny to say, but when I play gigs, I never ‘dial it in’. I always give it 110% – Dime and Vinnie believed that people wanted a show. You could even say that each performance I do is ‘for Dime’.
I had the pleasure of meeting Vinnie Paul at a Hellyeah gig about few months before he died. He was amazing and the band were great. I will be honest, it was actually quite sad. He was smiling and chatting to us, but his eyes were black and empty. I’ve spoken to people that new him well, they said that when Dimebag died a piece of him died. He was never the same.
The legacy that we have from Vinnie Paul Abbott and Dimebag Darryl Abbott is a great back catalogue of heavy metal albums (you may not agree what with what I’ve put about each album, at the of the day it’s my opinion it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you play the songs/albums and you love it. Play the songs you love, and skip the ones you don’t love. Play them loud. Sing along. Air guitar along. Air drum along. It all doesn’t matter what you do to enjoy the songs just as long as you enjoy them. As long as they help you re-connect with that fun-loving inner child.
This is the legacy of Vinnie and Dimebag – their inner child…… your inner child.
Crank the tunes.
If you can’t do it with passion, don’t bother doing it
Smile from ear to ear
And remember – VAN HALEN!!!!