Texas' Pantera are one of the most famous heavy metal acts around. Taking their nickname from their fifth album, these "Cowboys From Hell" reeked chaos and aggression throughout the band's entire career. Spawning from the origins of the glam metal sound of the 80's to a more groove, pissed off sound in the 90's. The band would be an inspiration and influential with their sound, famous by the band's guitarist, the late "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. With the pulsing rhythm section of the drumming and double bass from his brother Vinnie Paul Abbott and bassist Rex Brown, Pantera was a juggernaut in groove metal and a heavy metal powerhouse, all fronted by the intensely furious and visceral intensity of lead vocalist Phil Anselmo.

So, with all that being said, why are these titans of Texas getting some backlash recently? How is this influential band facing disrespect, misjudgment and overall vitriol from the metal community today? Today, I am going to tackle the why in another edition of Why The Hate?. We will look today at the band's music and the band members themselves. Let's see if this legendary act deserves what's been brought upon them.


Pantera was formed in 1981 by the Abbott brothers, along with Terry Glaze on rhythm guitar, Donny Hart on vocals and bassist Tommy D. Bradford. After Hart would leave the band the following year, Glaze would take over as lead vocalist, and would make Darrell Abbott the sole guitarist of the band from this point forward. Bradford would also leave the band the same year, with the band hiring Rex Brown as the new bass player.

The band would release their debut album Metal Magic in 1983. Channeling inspiration from the likes of 80's excess like Van Halen. The album was a far cry from the unhinged aggression and hostility of the band's sound we know now. Receiving mixed reviews, the highlight of the band's sound was Darrell's guitar playing on the album. The band would follow up that album one year later with Projects in The Jungle. Heavily influenced by the burgeoning rise and popularity of Def Leppard, mixed with elements of Judas Priest and Van Halen. The album would feature more improved production and performance. Pantera would release I Am The Night one year later, returning back to the glam metal sound of their debut, and would be the last record with Glaze on lead vocals, who would leave the band in 1987. The band would hire Phil Anselmo as his replacement, cementing the band's lineup until their breakup and the passing of the Abbott brothers.

Anselmo would make his studio debut with the band on their 1988 album Power Metal. The band's sound shifted away from the glitzy, glam metal sound from the previous albums, going for a more heavier, groove metal sound that the band would become famous for. Many fans compared the record to Judas Priest's sound due to Anselmo's performance in its similarity to Halford. Though received criticism for the band's lyrics at the time, the album received positive reviews and fans digging the band's new direction. But it was a calm before the storm, as the following release would cement the band's sound and cement their legacy as one of heavy metal's heaviest and angriest bands.

The band would release Cowboys From Hell in 1990. Fully embracing the heavy metal sound of the previous album, but going heavier, faster and angrier. From it's opening title track, to the thundering drum opening of "Primal Concrete Sledge" to the heartfelt cries of "Cemetery Gates" to the pure breakdown of "Domination", Pantera had released a defining record in not only groove metal, but heavy metal as a whole in the band's legacy. Showing that everything was more pissed off and heavy in Texas. Even Ozzy Osbourne has listed this record as one of his all time favorite albums.

Following the success of that record, the band would hit the studio and two years later would release their sixth album Vulgar Display of Power. With the lead single, and possibly one of the most recognizable guitar riffs in metal history, with "Walk", the band continued their groove metal sound, but also went more intensity in it's sound. With the emblazoned ferocity of "Fucking Hostile" & "A New Level",  to the almost eeriness of "This Love", to the call to arms feel of "Mouth For War", the album was showing the band taking the sound and aggression of Cowboys, and amping it up to the next level.

The band would reach major commercial success with their seventh studio album Far Beyond Driven in 1994. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum, becoming the band's fastest selling album. Many fans citing this as the band's best album, with many critics adding it to many lists as one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time. Anselmo has a more unhinged and pissed-off energy on this album. With songs like "5 Minutes Alone"  & "I'm Broken". Guitarist Darrell Abbott, who officially took on the Dimebag Darrell moniker on this album going forward, added chugging and heavy guitar riffs and impressive solos, inspiring thousands of guitarists to pick up the guitar. Amidst the unhinged aggression and intensity, the album would close with the band covering Black Sabbath's "Planet Caravan" which some have said is almost as good, if not better than the original.

In 1995, the band would begin facing tension amongst them. Anselmo would begin to act strangely in his personality and live performances, with Anselmo suffering from back pain. Which he would relieve with heroin as a pain killer. Anselmo would create a side project Down with members of Crowbar, Corrosion of Conformity, Eyehategod and Rex Brown from Pantera in 1995. Their debut album that same year, NOLA, the album would be considered a landmark release in the southern metal/sludge sound the band would make popular, showcased in the album's lead single "Stone The Crow". Following a successful tour and album sales, the band members would return to their original acts, with Anselmo returning to Pantera to being work on their eighth album.

The Great Southern Treadkill was released in 1996. Reaching number four on the Billboard 200, staying on the charts for sixteen weeks. The album was recorded differently then the band normally would. The band would record their music separately, while Anselmo would do his vocals as Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails' Nothing Studios in New Orleans. The album has a darker theme and tone to the record. Showcasing elements of thrash and death metal into the band's groove metal sound. Guitars were tuned lower than the band's previous records, and a lot more screaming then singing was more prominent. Even Anselmo's singing voice was accented by screaming vocals by Seth Putnam of infamous grindcore band Anal Cunt. Adding more harshness and hostility to the album. The album would feature the song "Floods" which many guitar publications have said features Dimebag Darrell's greatest guitar solo, but also one of the greatest guitar solos of all time.

That same year, Phil Anselmo would overdose on heroin, going into cardiac arrest while performing with Pantera. After recovering from his overdose, he would apologize for his actions, embarrassing the band according to the Abbott brothers. The band would recover and release a live album Official Live: 101 Proof in 1997. They would also receive a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance for the song "Suicide Note (Pt. 1)" going on to play at that year's Ozzfest along with Black Sabbath, Type O Negative and Fear Factory.

After the tour cycle of Treadkill, the band would take a break and focus on side projects. The Abbott brothers, along with Rex Brown would begin work on a country/heavy metal project with legendary country singer David Allan Coe called Rebel Meets Rebel. The self-titled album would not be released until 2006. Anselmo would create other side projects besides his band Down. He would play guitar on Necrophagia's 1999 release Holocaust de la Morte under the alias Anton Crowley. Delving into black metal with his projects Eibon and Viking Crown.

The band would release their ninth and final album in 2000 with Reinventing The Steel. Lyrical themes of the record were about the band themselves in an almost meta/fourth wall breaking feel to it. Songs like "Goddamn Electric" and "You've Got To Belong To It" addresses their fanbase, "I'll Cast A Shadow" discusses the band's influence on the heavy metal genre, and "We'll Grind That Axe For A Long Time" about the longevity and the loyalty of the band to the genre. The album would debut at number four on the Billboard 200, selling over 150,000 copies in it's first week. The band would promote the album further with tours featuring heavier acts like Slayer and Morbid Angel.

In 2002, Anselmo would return to solo projects following the album and tour cycle of Steel. His main side project Down would release their follow up Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgegrow in 2002. He would also debut a crossover thrash project that same year with Superjoint Ritual. The band's debut, Use Once and Destroy, was released that same year to positive reviews and feedback. Though busy with his side projects, this caused a riff between the Abbott brothers and Anselmo on if the band would continue. Sadly, the Abbott brothers would disband Pantera in 2003, with the Abbott brothers citing Anselmo's lack of interest in the band, turning into a war of words from the two factions, with bassist Rex Brown seeming to be the only neutral party between them.

Following the breakup, the Abbott brothers would form a new project named Damageplan. Featuring vocalist Pat Lachman and bassist Bob Zilla, the band would release their debut album New Found Power in 2004. Featuring guest appearances by Corey Taylor of Slipknot on "Fuck You", Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains on the bonus track "Ashes To Ashes" and longtime friend of the band Zakk Wylde on "Reborn" and "Soul Bleed". The album received mixed reviews with many claiming the band "trying to be Pantera without Anselmo".

Tragically in 2004, on a tour stop in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag Darrell Abbott was shot and killed, along with four other people by crazed fan Nathan Gale, before being taken out by police. Dimebag Darrell was 38 years old. The metal world mourned the death of a beloved icon and Damageplan would disband following the tragedy.

After the death of his brother and an almost two year hiatus from making music, Vinnie Paul would form the supergroup Hellyeah. Featuring vocalist Chad Grey and guitarist Greg Tribbett from Mudvayne, guitarist Tom Maxwell of Nothingface and bassist Bob Zilla from Damageplan. The band would record six studio albums, before Vinnie Paul would pass away in 2018 at his Las Vegas home due to dilated cardiomyopathy and coronary artery disease. He is currently buried next to his brother.

While working on more side projects, along with running his own label Housecore Records, Anselmo and Brown began talks of reuniting Pantera for their first major tour in 22 years. The band would feature guitarist Zakk Wylde and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante filling in for the late Abbott brothers. Though met with mixed criticism from the fans of the band on this decision, the new Pantera lineup made its debut in December 2022, co-headlining Mexico's Monterrey Metal Fest with Judas Priest. Receiving positive reviews from fans at the events. As well as positive feedback with Anselmo sounding almost as good as he did on those early records. No new music has been announced at the time of this article, but the band is expected to tour through 2024.

So, musically, does the band's music deserve the backlash? No it doesn't, not at all. Pantera have been an influence in the metal scene. With the impressive musicianship of Dimebag Darrell, the unhinged vocal delivery of Anselmo and the booming rhythm section of Brown and Vinnie Paul, the band cannot be touched in their prime. With "Domination" being one of the heaviest breakdowns (possibly maybe even the first breakdown) in metal history, they have been a band that deserves all the praise, musical inspiration and influence they deserve. Musically, Pantera doesn't deserve any of the backlash and negativity towards them.


The band is a very unique cast of characters and personalities. With the outgoing, relaxed, cool-uncle vibe of Vinnie Paul and the party-loving, black tooth grin drinking personality of Dimebag Darrell. You have the very calm, subdued but easy to talk to Rex Brown and the chill offstage, pissed onstage character of Phil Anselmo, but they all worked together when the band hit the stage. The issues with the band seem to stem with the rivalry between the Abbott brothers and Anselmo, and some past incidents regarding Anselmo.

Some of the hostility began around the time of the band's breakup. Anselmo claimed in interviews that while doing his side projects he wasn't asked to return to the band, while the Abbotts claim that he didn't show interest in returning to Pantera. One famous remark was mentioned in a 2004 Metal Hammer article that Anselmo said that "Dimebag deserves to be beaten severely", which was said the same year of Dimebag's death, which upset fans as well as the Abbott family. After the article was released, Anselmo was not allowed to even attend Dimebag's funeral, posting a teary apology letter and his memories of Dimebag on Youtube. Since that incident and Dimebag's passing, there has been a huge divide between the two factions. Though Anselmo has stated he regrets his remarks and wanted to make peace after Dimebag's passing, Vinnie Paul was vehemently against it up to his death. Though at the time, his remarks did earn him some backlash and hatred from the fanbase, my thought is he has learned from the error of his ways and wanted to make amends at least which is a good thing, but unfortunately the damage was already done.

The other issues with the band also regards Anselmo's alleged racism and white supremacy actions he has done in the past. During Dimebash 2016, a yearly concert honoring Dimebag Darrell's legacy, an intoxicated Anselmo was on stage giving the Nazi salute and shouting "White Power" to the crowd. The video was put online and shared on Youtube and countless metal and non-metal news sites. Anselmo claimed it was an in-jest of drinking white wine, but many fans scoffed at that defense. Anselmo also said in an interview with Eddie Trunk for Sirius XM regarding the incident that he was egged on the whole time by hecklers, showing them what they wanted to see. This incident would affect future bookings for Anselmo's bands and even cancelling some Germany dates with the reformed Pantera, since it is illegal to perform or condone any Nazi actions in the country.

This isn't the first time there has been accusations against Anselmo of racism. In 1995, he gave a speech between songs, discussing how rap artists were "pissing all over white culture". Another concert he expressed his disgust with affirmative action saying "fuck all that Black Power bullshit". Though he has denied racism in recent interviews, some of his actions have contradicted his thoughts. But if he truly is racist, then he deserves the hate since the metal community does not support racism or hatred of any kind. Myself and This Day in Metal will not support those kinds of actions and remarks.

Yes, before you point it out, Dimebag Darrell would famously have his Dean guitar emblazoned with the Confederate flag made infamous during the U.S. Civil War. Which at the time was not a big deal, but in today's WOKE/cancel-culture mindset, that would not fly today. Also, I searched for any incidents in press and live performances of Dimebag saying anything racist and I couldn't find anything, nor did I find any stories from other bands or friends of Dimebag stating he said any remarks of that nature.

In the end, does Pantera deserve the hate towards them? Musically no, and it seems like a lot of the hatred toward the band is directly aimed at its front man. Pantera was a band that strived to change what metal could sound like. It could add groove, catchy but heavy choruses, and be a literal representation of a middle finger in it's sound. I was hesitant at first of the Pantera "reunion" like many metalheads. That it's not Pantera without the Abbott brothers, and I still believe that. I think most fans would agree that if they went under the band name Far Beyond Driven or Cowboys From Hell, that would have appeased the fanbase. But I know that name won't sell merch and tickets like Pantera would. In articles I have found, Dimebag's wife Rita Haney has said in the past that if Anselmo and Brown wanted to honor the Abbott brothers, that she feels Dimebag would've been ok with it since Dimebag was the most forgiving person she knew. She even joined the new lineup, along with Randy Blythe of Lamb of God in an August 2023 show in Texas for the performance of "Walk". After seeing her give the ok and also perform with the new lineup, it gives off a feeling of burying the hatchet and making peace between the two parties.

This series just gives summaries and thoughts on bands and their actions and history, it is up to you the reader to make your own decision and research to determine how you stand on the band. Which is why I love doing this series since it opens up discussion, let's everyone's viewpoints be shared and as a metal community, hear everyone's thoughts and opinions on a band or artist. What do you think, do you think Pantera deserve the hate? Let us know your thoughts and opinions on our social media and vote on our poll below. This has been another edition of Why The Hate?.

Does Pantera deserve the hate? - Online Poll - StrawPoll
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