Mouth For War


When I was flicking through Facebook and the like earlier this morning I saw that amongst the other birthdays today Dimebag Darrell would have been 51. 

It’s been such a long time since I last listened to Pantera I thought I’d give the few albums I like a long overdue blast. It’s been so long I don’t even have a single solitary track of theirs on my iPhone.  I’ve never really listened to the Terry Glaze era stuff, when they were a much more glam metal looking band, and I think I picked up on the Texan outfit like a lot of other people when Cowboys From Hell seemed to come out of nowhere in 1990 and took the world by storm with its groove metal rumblings. 

I really liked its immediate successors (Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven) with their much heavier sounding tones. But I’d drifted away as a fan by the time The Great Southern Trendkill arrived and Reinventing the Steel completely passed me by. I need to give those last two another go on Spotify sometime as I know I don’t own them on CD. 

I got to see the band four times over the years. I missed their first foray to the country when they were on a bill with Annihilator and headlined by Judas Priest. A year later in 1992 they were back on Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction tour with The Almighty opening up the Birmingham NEC show. A few months later in the early part of 1993 it was the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton with Gruntruck in support and in 1994 the same venue and I think that was more to do with Los Angeles hardcore band Downset supporting. 

The fourth and final time really did surprise me. They were here in support of Reinventing the Steel album and had Satyricon as the opening act, again in Wolverhampton in 2000. 

The “me” of 2017 would now have seen the band on the first two dates and probably have called it quits for any more experiences. Obviously the first show was all about Megadeth and Pantera was an added bonus. Even on that first probably 30 – 45 minute set, and at the age I was, I knew the vocals were a huge let down. The second show was probably giving them the benefit of the doubt, but once again I was proved wrong. I hazard a guess the show that completed the quartet I was probably roped into driving. As great as the songs sounded on compact disc, vocally it couldn’t be transferred to a live setting, in my opinion. Even seeing some of Anselmo’s bands live post Pantera, the vocals have always come across horribly.   

There is no denying the impact that the band had for a small period of time and helped to reshape a thrash metal scene that was supposedly on its death bed at the time. How many of the thrash metal acts from the 80’s and early 90’s added more groove and melody into their sound to try and stay relevant to a new and younger audience? 

After the unceremonious demise of Pantera I think I only saw Dimebag once more at Download in 2004, and that was one of only a pair of UK shows they did. 

It still amazes me to the obvious high regard that he is held in as a guitar virtuoso nearly 13 after his death, but so many people seem to conveniently forget that he played guitar on a cover of Saturday Nights Alright (For Fighting) with the much derided Nickelback. The Canadians were also posthumously given a guitar solo by the family which was used by the band on Side of a Bullet, a song about Darrell. 

Mouth for War is the first single and opening salvo from 1992’s Vulgar Display of Power release. 

Advertisements

This Love

December 8th is a bit of a dark day for deaths in the music world. There might be days that have a higher number, or more poignant to other people, but two guitarists who influenced two generations passed away on this day and both by deranged fans.

The most recent first. Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, 2004. Darrell Abbott was one of four people killed by a gun man whilst on stage with his band Damageplan minutes into their set.

Better known as Dimebag Darrell, he will be remembered as the founder of Pantera alongside his brother Vinnie Paul way back in 1981. In their formative years they were very much a hair metal band until the thrash explosion of 1986/7. A change in direction resulted in a change in vocalist. With the introduction of Phil Anselmo they had morphed into a power groove band (mid paced thrash metal!) by 1990’s Cowboys From Hell album.

Pantera dissolved in 2003 under a huge black cloud between Anselmo and the Abbott brothers – who went on to form Damageplan. Less than a year after releasing their debut album Dimebag was gone.

Any heavy bands formed around 1990, or cutting their teeth at the time, and for the next decade or so would undoubtedly be influenced by Dimebag’s guitar work, as much as Van Halen and KISS influenced him.

I got to see the band live four times. The first time was on their Vulgar Display of Power tour, supporting Megadeth at the NEC Arena in Birmingham. I often found Pantera frustrating. Absolutely fantastic on album, but the live environment was the frustrating part. Musically superb, but often let down by poor, weak and often lazy vocals. To me, it seemed to depend on what mood Anselmo was in on the day.