Damageplan Put Pantera Behind Them With New Found Power

Dimebag Darrell, Vinnie Paul return to their ripping roots.

Former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul damaged a lot of property and trashed plenty of equipment in Dime’s home studio last year while working on songs for their new band, Damageplan — and that’s when things were going well.

“I had to replace six doors and eight feet of Sheetrock in the bathroom because we were partying nonstop and raising f—ing hell,” boasted Dimebag. “Plenty of my guitars went down in flames. We smashed ‘em and taped fireworks to ‘em and lit them up — you name it.”

“Usually what happens,” added Paul, “is we’ll be down there in the studio and we’ll finish a track and come up to the house to hear it. We’ll put it on the jukebox and jam it 10 times. Everyone’s catching the groove and doing shots, and then hell starts to break loose because we’re feeling so good.”

Things weren’t always so happily destructive for the two. After the demise of Pantera, which broke up last year when singer Philip Anselmo decided he was through with his bandmates (see “Time To Put A Vulgar Display Of Flowers At Pantera’s Grave?” ), Darrell and Paul fell into a funk. They felt shafted by their longtime frontman and were unsure how to continue without him. Even after picking themselves up by their Texas cowboy bootstraps and writing new material, it took time to settle into a groove. At first they were so concerned with not sounding like Pantera that everything they wrote sounded contrived.

“I tried all these different guitars and amps I don’t normally play, trying to get something different out of the deal, but nothing sounded right,” Darrell said. “Then I realized the Pantera sound is the old-school sound of me and Vinnie ripping it up and anything we play is always gonna sound like us.”

While the band’s debut album, New Found Power, due February 10, is filled with tornado riffs, frenetic double bass drums and surging grooves reminiscent of Pantera, the songs display more diversity than anything by the pair’s former band. Damageplan embrace contemporary textures reminiscent of Deftones, heavy melodies like Sevendust’s and even industrial experimentation owing a nod to Nine Inch Nails.

“We wanted to stretch out and expand our capabilities to their fullest,” Darrell said. “If you look back to the early Pantera days, we had the melody in songs like ‘Cemetery Gates,’ and then it just kind of worked its way out of there. The dimensions started closing and we focused on the all-hard-and-heavy angle. With Damageplan we definitely wanted to branch back out.”

Aiding the band in their mission is singer Patrick Lachman, whose multidimensional voice easily tackles ominous moaning, full-throated melodic singing and larynx-shredding roars. Lachman, who used to play guitar in the band Halford, befriended Darrell in 2000. When Rob Halford was invited to rejoin Judas Priest last year, Lachman, out of a gig, called Darrell.

“I said, ‘Well, I got the guitars handled,’ and he said, ‘Dude, I can sing. Let me take a shot at it,’ ” Darrell recalled. “So we gave him ‘Crawl,’ and about three days later he FedExed it to us, and it totally kicked f—-ing ass. So we gave him a couple more tracks, he nailed them, and it was on.”

The first New Found Power single, “Save Me,” goes to radio January 26. One of the more accessible tracks on the sonically diverse album, “Save Me” is about the struggle each bandmember underwent to overcome depression and frustration.

“Usually you can do more damage to yourself than anything else that can f— you up,” Darrell said. “I was cookin’ along just fine, and then everything started to unfold [when Pantera fell apart]. It was like, ‘Holy sh–, what’s going on here?’ But that’s just life, and it hit me one day that this has got to be a test to see if I’ve got the balls and strength to overcome all these things that were coming at me. I basically had to save myself from myself. So I did it, and now everything’s going great again.”