There are few prominent figures in heavy metal that have been as polarizing, in recent years, as Philip Anselmo, but whatever side you take when discussing the singer, one should never overlook the fact that Anselmo is, first and foremost, one of the most talented and important vocalists of his generation. Born Philip Hansen Anselmo, on June 30, 1968, in new Orleans, Louisiana, Philip was surprisingly shy and quiet as a child, but, by his teen years, had begun testing his voice with a series of small time bands, beginning with Samhain (not the one fronted by Glenn Danzig) and Razor White. But Anselmo’s big break arrived in 1987, when he joined a struggling glam metal group from Texas called Pantera, then helped reshape their sound alongside bandmates Diamond Darrell (guitar), Rex Brown (bass) and Vinnie Paul (drums) into a muscular, groove-driven style all their own. Starting with 1990’s major label debut, ‘Cowboys from Hell,’ Pantera developed into perhaps the definitive, most important American heavy metal band of the 1990s, thanks to era-defining efforts like ‘A Vulgar Display of Power’ and ‘Far Beyond Driven.’ But Anselmo always kept busy with numerous side projects, both publicly known like the Southern doom supergroup Down and Superjoint Ritual, and via aliases to protect his identity, such as cult horror metallers Necrophagia. Less glamorously, Anselmo also battled numerous substance abuse demons over the years (suffering a near-fatal overdose in 1996) as well as chronic back pain, which he has at different times blamed for his often confrontational comments aimed at fellow musicians, including, be-fore too long, his Pantera bandmates. Sure enough, by 2001 relationships within the band had deteriorated to the breaking point and the four men had gone their separate ways, with significant mudslinging witnessed between Anselmo and brothers Dimebag and Vinnie Paul once the pair launched their new band Damageplan, in 2003. Tragically, these public slights took on an entirely more disturbing quality when Dimebag was viciously gunned down by a deranged man on stage and Anselmo was deemed persona non grata (barred, even, from attending his funeral) by the guitarist’s family and friends. In the decade since, Anselmo has repeatedly voiced his positive memories of his former bandmate, while maintaining his successful music career, which has included, as usual, numerous projects both old (Down) and new (w/ the Illegals), as well as a recent foray into independent films via the Housecore Horror Film Festival.