Pantera was arguably the most important heavy metal band of the 1990s — becoming a major commercial force in spite of a hostile alternative rock climate that laid low some of metal’s all-time biggest bands, to say nothing of the once dominant hair metal scene. With period-defining albums like ‘Cowboys from Hell’ and ‘Vulgar Display of Power,’ Pantera established the so-called groove metal sub-genre and even reinvented themselves from a previous 1980s existence that many of their fans weren’t even aware of, for some time. But Pantera, which was founded in 1981 by guitar-and-drum-playing brothers Darrell (a.k.a. Diamond or Dimebag Darrell) and Vinnie Paul Abbott, with bassist Rex Brown and singer Terrence Lee Glaze, had actually recorded three albums of run-of-the-mill hair metal for their own independent label, to no success. Not until they replaced Glaze with New Orleans-based vocalist Philip Anselmo, and began toughening up their sound for 1988’s ‘Power Metal’ album, did Pantera’s fortunes start turning around, leading to the creative and commercial breakthrough of 1990’s major label debut, ‘Cowboys from Hell.’ This, along with the aforementioned ‘Vulgar Display of Power,’ effectively established Pantera’s muscular groove metal blueprint, based around Dimebag Darrell’s devastating guitar technique and Anselmo’s versatile vocals. As a result 1994’s ‘Far Beyond Driven’ shot straight to number one on the U.S. charts and transformed Pantera into one of the world’s biggest heavy metal touring acts. But growing tensions within the group began chipping away at their momentum, despite strong sales for ensuing albums like 1996’s ‘The Great Southern Trendkill’ and 2000’s ‘Reinventing the Steel,’ and by 2003, Pantera had officially broken up. Anselmo turned his attention to Down and Superjoint Ritual, the Abbott brothers launched a new group named Damageplan, and their war of worlds escalated until Dimebag was stunning murdered on stage by a deranged man, on December 8, 2004. Since the tragedy, relations between Pantera’s surviving members have remained testy, at best, with Anselmo continuing to pursue multiple musical projects, Vinnie Paul chiefly committed to Hellyeah, and Rex Brown splitting his time between Down, Kill Devil Hill and penning his Pantera-centric autobiography in 2013.



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