The brothers Vinnie Paul (drums), and Diamond Darrell (guitar)—known by his stage name “Dimebag”—formed the American heavy metal group Pantera in the Texas city of Arlington in 1981. Vinnie Paul, Dimebag Darrell, vocalist Phil Anselmo, and bassist Rex Brown are their most well-known lineup. Pantera, along with bands like Testament, Sepultura, and Machine Head, are recognized for their contributions to the second wave of the thrash metal movement from the late 1980s to the first half of the 1990s, in addition to their development and popularization of the groove metal subgenre.

They are regarded as one of the most important bands in the history of Heavy Metal, selling about 20 million records worldwide and receiving four Grammy Award nominations.

With founding member Terry Glaze as the lead singer, Pantera started as a Glam metal band, first producing three albums in the middle of the 1980s. The band members replaced Glaze with Anselmo in 1987 in search of a new, stronger sound, and in 1988 they released “Power Metal”. The next year, the band signed a record deal with Atco Records.
Pantera helped establish the Groove Metal subgenre with their fifth album, 1990’s “Cowboys from Hell,” and their eighth album, Vulgar Display of Power, featured an even heavier sound. The Billboard charts saw Far Beyond Driven (1994) debut at number one.

Tensions began to arise between the band members when Anselmo became addicted to heroin in 1995; he nearly died of an overdose in 1996. These tensions resulted in the recording sessions for “The Great Southern Trendkill” (1996) being held separately. The tension continued for another seven years, during which only one studio album, “Reinventing the Steel” (2000), was recorded. Pantera paused in 2001 but was disbanded by the Abbott brothers in 2003 amid communication problems and their conclusion that Anselmo no longer wanted to remain in the band.

The Abbott brothers formed Damageplan, while Anselmo continued working on several side projects, including Down, which Rex Brown also joined. On December 8, 2004, Dimebag Darrell was murdered on stage by a mentally unstable fan during a Damageplan concert in Columbus, Ohio; Vinnie Paul formed Hellyeah following the death of his brother and died of heart failure in 2018, leaving Brown and Anselmo as the only surviving members of the band’s best-known lineup.

First years and Glam phase

Founded in 1981, the band saw great success after the first half of the 1990s, when the popularity of Heavy Metal started to decline. They began by creating a sound more oriented toward Glam hard rock, moving on to the heavier modern Metal sound (also known as “Power-Groove,” a term created by the band themselves since a significant portion of their songs contain distinctive riffs).

The remaining members met Phil Anselmo in New Orleans and produced Power Metal,[11] a recording where Phil re-recorded some songs originally sung by Glaze and some originals.

From “Metal Magic” to “I Am The Night”, the band followed the Glam Metal path. Still, with the addition of Phil Anselmo on vocals (who had left a hard rock band from New Orleans called “Razor White”, which released an album with another vocalist around 1991), they decided to go for a heavier sound. With “Power Metal”, some Thrash Metal riffs are noted in songs like “Over And Out” and “Death Trap”, while some Hard Rock style songs with more commercial appeal still persist, like “Hard Ride” and “Proud To Be Loud.”

In 1989, the band signed with Atco Records after a record executive was impressed by the band’s show. The band members would later ignore their independent releases, including “Power Metal” while carving out a new, even heavier image to go along with their later Groove Metal sound. Their four independent albums are not listed on the band’s official website and have become hard-to-find collector’s items. Some ‘bootlegs’ with shows from that time are found on the internet and ironically called “Glamtera” due to the look.

Their first commercially successful album was 1990’s “Cowboys from Hell”. The album marked a critical moment in the band’s history. Many fans, as well as the band themselves, consider Pantera’s “official” debut. At this point, Pantera’s music was still heavily influenced by classic Heavy Metal, although the album also began to demonstrate a much more extreme style than their previous work. Thrash metal came to influence this album even more, and songs like “Cowboys from Hell”, “Psycho Holiday”, and “Domination” demonstrate this well, while “Cemetery Gates” and “Shattered” still demonstrate the old influences. The band was beginning its Thrash/Groove or Groove Metal

To promote their latest album, Pantera began the “Cowboys from Hell” tour alongside Thrash bands Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies. In 1991, Rob Halford performed with the band on stage, which led to Pantera (along with Annihilator) opening for Judas Priest at their first show in Europe. They also opened for other bands such as Sepultura, Fates Warning, Prong, Mind over Four and Morbid Angel and co-headlined a North American tour with Wrathchild America.
The band finally achieved notoriety for “Monsters in Moscow” with AC/DC and Metallica in September 1991, where they played to a crowd of over 500,000 in attendance to celebrate the new freedom to play Western music in the Soviet Union shortly after its fall. Three months later. The band was often found at the Dallas club “The Basement”, where the band recorded the videos for “Cowboys from Hell” and “Psycho Holiday”. Pantera’s 2006 home video compilation, 3 Vulgar Videos from Hell, features performances of “Primal Concrete Sledge”, “Cowboys from Hell”, “Domination”, and “Psycho Holiday” from the Moscow show.

The Abbott brothers officially disbanded Pantera in 2003, also the year their compilation album “The Best of Pantera” was released, when the Abbott brothers concluded that Anselmo had abandoned them and would not return. The band’s split was not amicable, and a war of words was subsequently fought between the former bandmates through the press. Anselmo’s comment in a 2004 issue of Metal Hammer magazine that “Dimebag deserved to be beaten severely” typified Pantera’s internal conflicts; Anselmo insisted that this comment was ironic, and he was upset that his comment ended up on the cover of the “Damned” magazine. This explanation was quickly rejected by Vinnie Paul, who said shortly after his brother’s murder in 2004 that he had personally listened to the audio files of the interview and that Anselmo had not been misquoted or misrepresented but had said the exact words that appeared in the article. In the middle of the crossfire was Rex Brown, who later said, “It was a bunch of nonsense what he said, what was going on, and I wasn’t going to get in the middle of it.” In July 2004, the record “Vulgar Display of Power” went double platinum, and “The Great Southern Trendkill” went platinum the following month.

After Pantera’s breakup, Darrell and Vinnie formed a new band, Damageplan, with vocalist Pat Lachman and bassist Bob Zilla. Damageplan released their first and only studio album, “New Found Power”, on February 10, 2004. The album was a commercial success; over 44,000 copies were sold in the first week alone, and over 100,000 copies were sold within a year. However, some fans felt Damageplan’s material did not compare to Pantera’s.

Murder of Dimebag Darrell
On December 8, 2004, during the New Found Power tour, less than a minute into the first song of a Damageplan concert at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag Darrell was shot at close range by Nathan Gale, an alleged alienated 25-year-old fan who was shot dead by a police officer while he was holding him, hostage. In addition to the unfortunate incident with Darrell, three others suffered fatal injuries, including Nathan Bray, a 23-year-old fan of the band; Erin Halk, a 29-year-old local employee; Jeffrey Thompson, head of security at Damageplan, aged 40.
Gale also injured tour manager Chris Paluska and drum sound technician John Brooks. This caused a shock among Metal fans, making Dimebag Darrell a legend. Although Anselmo stated shortly after Darrell’s murder that he was considering reuniting Pantera, Vinnie Paul said a year later that such a reunion “will never happen.” Paul also stated that a reconciliation with Anselmo was impossible.

No motive was given as to why Gale killed Dimebag Darrell and the other victims, but early theories, which were dismissed by police, suggested that Gale, who was reportedly diagnosed with schizophrenia, was upset about the Pantera breakup. In several interviews, some of Gale’s friends suggested that he claimed he had written songs that Pantera stole.

Death of Vinnie Paul
On June 22, 2018, Vinnie Paul died in his Las Vegas home in his sleep; the cause of his death was later announced as dilated cardiomyopathy and coronary artery disease. His remains were buried next to the graves of his brother, Dimebag Darrell and mother, Carolyn, at Moore Memorial Gardens in Arlington, Texas.

Dimebag and Vinnie are on that list of much-regretted fallen heroes of Metal and are dearly missed

Metal Magic
Released: June 10, 1983
Label: Metal Magic

Projects in the Jungle
Released: July 27, 1984
Label: Metal Magic

I Am the Night
Released: October, 1985[12]
Label: Metal Magic
Formats: LP, CS

Power Metal
Released: June 24, 1988[14]
Label: Metal Magic

Cowboys from Hell
Released: July 24, 1990
Label: Atco

Vulgar Display of Power
Released: February 25, 1992
Label: Atco

Far Beyond Driven
Released: March 22, 1994
Label: East West

The Great Southern Trendkill
Released: May 7, 1996
Label: East West
Formats: CD, LP, CS

Reinventing the Steel
Released: March 21, 2000

Official Live: 101 Proof
Released: July 29, 1997

Far Beyond Bootleg: Live from Donington ’94
Released: June 2, 2014