Arguably--though you probably wouldn't find many voicing a contrary opinion--Pantera was one of the touchstones of the metal scene back in the early 1980s. The American metal scene was finding its groove and with bands like Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax setting the pace, it was only a matter of time before an ensemble like Pantera came along to blow all preconceived notions of metal out of the water. The Arlington, Texas, band was faster, fiercer and more frenetic than anyone who'd come before--and fans were listening.
Daniels' book--the first biography on the entire band--does a remarkably job of unraveling the twisted history of the band.
He's done dozens and dozens of interviews with key players in the band's history as well as combing through websites, books and every other source to separate the facts from fiction. That's exactly what needed to be done to shed light on a complicated
history that included drugs, bad blood amongst the band members, and of course guitarist Dimebag Darrell's horrific death by shooting on December 8, 2004, when he was only 38 years old.
In his intro, Daniels lays out the premise of the book:
In the beginning, Pantera was part of the glam-metal scene, but as 1986 dawned and thrash-metal bands began to make their mark, Pantera become something far more aggressive. With the arrival of a new front man from New Orleans, the no-bullshit Phil Anselmo, a new era began. Pantera's major-label breakthrough, Cowboys
from Hell, and its mesmerizing follow-up, Vulgar Display of Power, are still regarded as among the greatest metal albums in popular music history.
The book answers all the questions about the drugs and the fighting and the rivalries. It wasn't an easy assignment--many would-be interviewees shut the door when Daniels came knocking because they wanted to keep their secrets--but the author knocked it out of the park. Any fan of metal and particularly Pantera needs to read this one.
Despite reverence bestowed upon them, however, the band had a relatively short life span. From 1983 to 2000 they released only nine studio albums, the first four of which have been permanently deleted by a band that was never interested in trading on past glories (hence the song 'Yesterday Don't Mean Shit'). Yet Pantera's impact on metal is still keenly felt more than a decade after their bitter, highly publicized split.
Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Steven Rosen, 2014