It looks like the cowboys from hell might be headed for the cemetery gates.
Pantera frontman Philip Anselmo said that although the band has not officially broken up, there are no immediate plans to work together.
"If five or 10 years down the way, [everyone] wants to get together and do more Pantera music, then we'll see," Anselmo said. "Of course, it would take some soul searching from all of us."
For now the singer is focusing his attention on his hardcore metal band Superjoint Ritual, while guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul work on their new outfit, New Found Power.
Pantera's last studio album was 2000's Reinventing the Steel. Last year, after releasing the second disc by his side project Down, Down II, Anselmo announced that Pantera would return to the studio before the end of the year. It never happened.
"I think each and every one of us needs to get some other pieces of music out of their systems," he said. "And I think that some of us need to take some time for ourselves to get on with life again instead of reliving the past over and over and over."
Anselmo insisted that he and his former bandmates are still on good terms but that no one feels emotionally ready to revisit Pantera. The band's label hasn't made things any easier.
"They're looking for a new Pantera record," Anselmo said. "And I guess they just don't understand English. If you're not happy in a situation -- which none of us were at the time -- you take time off and you let the air clear."
Despite his frustration, Anselmo still has fond memories. He's especially proud that no matter how many fads came and went, Pantera's fans remained endlessly devoted.
"Pantera always had its definite, deadly hardcore following," he said. "You get your name of the week on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine because they sold 100,000 copies in two days and no one realizes that they're a band that's gonna be gone in six months or a year. Hell, give 'em two years. Pantera put out Cowboys From Hell in 1990. Our crowds never diminished."
Pantera is not Anselmo's only project on indefinite hold. Down, the sludge band he was in with Brown, Corrosion of Conformity frontman Pepper Keenan, Crowbar guitarist Kirk Windstein and Eyehategod drummer Jimmy Bower (who's also in Superjoint Ritual), may also be down for the count.
"As much work and as much blood and sweat that we gave to those two records is how much we weren't given back or helped or even pushed a minute at all by our record label," he growled. "It's basically sabotage and it's painful to take a knife in the back like that. They don't give a sh-- at all that Down is some people's favorite band. They don't care that the new Metallica sounds a lot like Down. They don't care that Jack Osbourne, who's on the cover of People magazine, has a Down shirt on. No way. They're just telling us that this record's run its course and it's over with. So until a lot of business is taken care of with and between the record labels, it's very tough for a band like Down to function at all."
Superjoint Ritual's upcoming A Lethal Dose of American Hatred, which sounds a lot like '80s bands Agnostic Front, D.R.I. and Crumbsuckers, may be one of the heaviest and most intense projects Anselmo has worked on, but being furious is what makes him the most happy.
"Right now it feels absolutely thrilling to be playing back in smaller clubs and to have kids right dead in front of my face and be playing hard-ass-core music that people are reacting to violently," he said. "I f---ing love that, and that is Superjoint Ritual."