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When they formed Pantera as teenagers, "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and Vinnie Paul Abbott played melodic, Mötley Crüe-style songs that were nearly as flamboyant as their hairstyles. It wasn't until they added singer Phil Anselmo in 1987 that the Texas band started getting mean — and three years later, they found their voice with their second album with Anselmo, 1990's legendary Cowboys From Hell.

Despite its rather cheesy beginnings, the band metamorphosed into something few could have expected: Vicious and furious, the revitalized Pantera redefined heaviness with ripping thrash riffs, bludgeoning rhythms and Anselmo's caged-beast howls.

While never as musically diverse as Metallica, Pantera possessed two traits that made them innovators: a surging "power-groove" inspired by their Southern origins, and one of the best guitarists to ever to pick up an instrument. The late "Dimebag" Darrell's riffs were dense and devastating, and whether he was playing slow chugs or frenetic thrash, his style was instantly identifiable: shredding without wasting a note, and solos punctuated with squealing harmonics, queasy vibrato and ecstatic whammy-bar dives.

The members were just as in-your-face offstage as they were onstage, welcoming musicians and fans with open arms and open bottles, and engaging in the type of rock and roll revelry once enjoyed by their heroes in Kiss and Van Halen.

Between 1990 and 1996, Pantera remained consistently brutal and uncompromising, releasing four devastating studio albums and touring exhaustively, acting as standard-bearers at the height of alt-rock's popularity. But the years took their toll on the bandmembers, and a rift surfaced between the Abbott brothers on one side and Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown on the other. The group kept their personal differences at bay long enough to release a final studio disc, 2000's Reinventing the Steel. But soon after, it became clear that the gulf between the musicians had grown too wide, and Pantera broke up. Anselmo continued rocking in various groups, including Down and Superjoint Ritual, while Vinnie and Dime formed the crushing quartet Damageplan.

Tragically, a deranged fan ended Dime's life on December 7, 2004. And while nothing good came of that event, fans can find solace in the recordings Dime left behind, and the profound influence he's had on everyone from neo-thrashers Trivium to metalcore bands like Atreyu and Bleeding Through.




Cowboys From Hell (1990), A Vulgar Display of Power (1992), Far Beyond Driven (1994).





"Pantera combined the perfect amount of angst, musicianship, groove and heaviness.  They waved the flag of metal for well over a decade when most 'heavy' bands were softening their sound to sell more records. Pantera helped saved metal from becoming completely contrived horsesh--. Every single real metal band on the planet today is influenced by Pantera in some shape or form." — Trevor Phipps, Unearth

"When I first heard Pantera, I was incredibly excited. Coming from the metal world, I was waiting and waiting for something to come blasting through the doors, and that's what they did. When I first heard Cowboys From Hell I thought, 'God, this is just awesome. We really need this type of sound and this type of attitude to shake things up.' In the history of rock and roll there have been an enormous number of bands that have come and gone, and the movers and shakers are the ones that are still significant. Pantera is one of those." — Rob Halford, Judas Priest

"The best thing about Pantera is they can do anything in their music, from the simplest to the most complex thing, and still be Pantera. For 'Walk,' it's pretty much two-and-a-half notes — and for two-and-a-half notes to make one of the heaviest riffs in metal ever, it shows they can be as minimalist as they want, and still be completely bludgeoning. And then they do extremely technical crazy sh-- like 'Domination.' Also, Pantera did the breakdown thing that's in all heavy music today long before anyone else thought of it. And Dimebag did all this shreddy stuff with so much feeling, it was incredible." — Corey Beaulieu, Trivium




"Pantera shouldn't be on the list" — is John from Brooklyn, New York, off his rocker or on to something? You tell us!




NEXT: Korn's Jonathan Davis says, 'That was the first band that was like, 'Oh, you can't listen to them because they're Satanic.' ' ...
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