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Country United States
Style Groove Metal
Thrash Metal
Glam Metal (Early)
Southern Metal
Year 1981

Pantera is an American heavy metal from Arlington, Texas, formed in 1981. The main lineup of the band included Phil Anselmo (vocals), Rex Brown (bass) and the late Abbott brothers Vinnie Paul (drums) and Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott (guitars). They were the main pioneers and developers of the groove metal subgenre, and is also credited (along with bands such as Testament, Sepultura and Machine Head) for being part of the second wave of the thrash metal scene from the late 1980s to the early to mid 1990s.[1] Pantera is regarded as one of the most influential and successful heavy metal bands of all time, having sold around 20 million records worldwide.[2]


Early Glam Years (1981 - 1989)

They started off as a glam metal band, being highly influenced by the style of Kiss and Van Halen. The band was originally named Gemini, then Eternity, before finally settling on Pantera.[3] The band originally consisted of Darrell Abbott on lead guitar, Vinnie Paul Abbott on drums and Terry Glaze on rhythm guitar; the line-up was completed with two more members, lead vocalist Donny Hart and bassist Tommy D. Bradford. In 1982, Hart left the band, so Terry Glaze became the vocalist. Glaze stopped playing rhythm guitar, so Darrell Abbot took on lead and rhythm guitar duties. Later that year, Bradford left the band and Rex Brown joined. The Abbott brother's father Jerry Abbott managed the band for the first four records.

Metal Magic, Projects in the Jungle, I Am the Night (1983 - 1986)

Pantera released three albums in the 80s that were in the genre of glam metal. Metal Magic was the debut studio album by Pantera, released on June 10th, 1983 by Metal Magic Records.[4] It is musically oriented to a glam metal sound influenced by Kiss and Van Halen. The album received negative reviews.[5]

Projects in the Jungle was the second studio album by Pantera, released on July 27th, 1984, by Metal Magic Records.[6] The bands first ever music video is on the track "All Over Tonight". It still had a glam/heavy metal sound. The album received negative reviews.[7]

I Am the Night was the third studio album by Pantera, released on October 1985, by Metal Magic Records. It was the last Pantera record to feature Terry Glaze on vocals, as he would leave the band a year after. The band made their second music video for the track "Hot and Heavy".

Phil joins and Power Metal (1986 - 1990)

In 1986, vocalist Terry Glaze left the band. He left due to a dispute with how the band wanted to go in their musical direction. Terry Glaze wanted to stay in the glam/commercial sound, while Rex, Darrell and Vinnie wanted to go heavier in the musical direction. In 1986, Phil Anselmo joined.[8] Two years later their fourth album Power Metal, released on June 24th, 1988, which was the first album to have Phil Anselmo on vocals. It was a different approach compared to the three previous albums. It had elements of speed metal[9].

Shortly after Power Metal got released, the thrash metal band Megadeth needed a new guitarist and phoned Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott, to join the band. Darrell insisted that his brother, Vinnie Paul, be included. However, Megadeth had already hired Nick Menza as their drummer so Darrell declined the offer, and Dave Mustaine instead decided on Marty Friedman.[10]

Commercial breakthrough years (1990 -)

Cowboys from Hell

After the release of Power Metal, the band decided to try get signed by a major record label. Atco Records signed them.[11] After that, they then developed and invented the groove metal sound on their major-label groundbreaking fifth album Cowboys from Hell, released on July 24, 1990. It was a new subgenre of metal, they had left their glam metal influences behind for mid-tempo thrash metal dubbed "power groove" (groove metal). It is considered to be one of the first ever groove metal albums.[12] It was their first album to ever chart in 1992, reaching No. 27 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers. The album has gone on to attain Gold (500,000 units) and Platinum (1,000,000 units) certifications in the U.S.[13] Cowboys from Hell is often referred to by fans as the band's "official debut album".

AllMusic said of the album:[14]

Pantera's breakthrough album, Cowboys from Hell, is largely driven by the band's powerful rhythm section and guitarist Diamond Darrell's unbelievably forceful riffing, which skittered around the downbeats to produce unexpected rhythmic phrases and accents, as well as his inventive soloing.

To promote their latest album, Pantera began the Cowboys from Hell tour alongside thrash metal acts Exodus and Suicidal Tendencies. In 1991, Pantera performed onstage with fellow heavy metal band Judas Priest. Pantera also opened for other bands like Sepultura, Fates Warning, Prong, Mind Over Four, and Morbid Angel, and co-headlined a North American tour with Wrathchild America.[15] The band eventually landed a billing for "Monsters in Moscow" with AC/DC and Metallica in September 1991, where they played to a crowd of over 500,000 in attendance to celebrate the new freedom of performing Western music in the Soviet Union shortly before its downfall three months later.

Vulgar Display of Power and Far Beyond Driven

Two years later Cowboys from Hell was followed up with an even heavier album Vulgar Display of Power, released on February 25th, 1992. which achieved more popularity for the band and cemented its reputation in the metal community, along with singles like "This Love", a haunting ballad about lust and abuse, "Walk", which would go on to be one of the band's most popular songs. The album would receive significant radio airplay. The album entered itself at the American charts at No. 44.[16] The album has been very well received by fans and critics, it is Pantera's highest selling album to date, and has been certified double platinum.[17] Vulgar Display of Power has been listed as one of the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[18] In October 2011, the album was ranked number four on Guitar World magazine's list of "The Top 10 Guitar Albums of 1992".[19] Pantera went on tour again, visiting Japan for the first time in July 1992 and later performing at the "Monsters of Rock" festival co-headlined by Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath in Italy. This is around the time when Darrell Abbott made his nickname "Dimebag Darrell.

Two years later, their new album Far Beyond Driven released on March 22nd 1994, then peaked at number one on the Billboard 200.[20] The album's first single "I'm Broken" earned the band's first Grammy nomination for "Best Metal Performance.". This album was taking a more extreme direction in their groove metal sound, with having elements of thrash metal and death metal in the album. Rolling Stone would eventually rank Far Beyond Driven #39 on their list of The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time.[21] Pantera began touring again, starting in South America, along with being accepted into another "Monsters of Rock" billing. Far Beyond Driven is the first album where the band's guitarist Darrell Abbott is credited as "Dimebag Darrell" having changed his nickname from "Diamond Darrell" soon after Vulgar Display of Power was released.

Tensions and final years

The Great Southern Trendkill

Two years after Far Beyond Driven the band released their eight studio album, The Great Southern Trendkill. It reached number four on the Billboard 200 charts and stayed on there for 16 weeks. During the album's production, Phil Anselmo recorded the vocals alone at Trent Reznor's Nothing Studios in New Orleans[22] while Dimebag, Vinnie and Rex recorded the music at Chasin Jason Studios in Dalworthington Gardens. The Great Southern Trendkill is considered the bands heaviest and most overlooked album, with elements of death metal[23] and grindcore in some of the songs. The album is known for featuring much screaming,[24], mostly on "Suicide Note Pt.II" and "The Great Southern Trendkill", while also featuring down-tuned guitars. It also features ballads and acoustic guitars.[25][26]

Phil's drug addiction and overdose (1995 - 1996)

After years of heavy touring before The Great Southern Trendkill, Phil had bad back pain, so he tried to alleviate his pain using painkillers and heroin. Doctors predicted that with surgery, Anselmo's back could be corrected, but it would take a year to a year and a half of recovery time.

On July 13th, 1996, during their tour with Eyehategod and White Zombie,[27], Anselmo overdosed on heroin an hour after a Texas homecoming gig.[28][29][30] His heart stopped beating for five minutes, then paramedics gave Anselmo a shot of adrenaline and sent him to the hospital. After he woke up in the hospital, the nurse working in his room said "Welcome back to life, oh and you have overdosed on heroin." Anselmo apologized to his bandmates the next night, and said that he would quit using drugs.[31]

Reinventing the Steel

On March 21st, 2000, Reinventing the Steel was released, their ninth and final studio album. It is also their final album featuring the Abbott brothers.[32] The album reached number four on the Billboard 200 chart, and is certified gold, but is still yet to get to platinum. After that the band went on hiatus in 2001, and disbanded in 2003.[33] Reinventing the Steel is considered a generic groove metal album.


The Abbott brothers officially disbanded Pantera in November 2003.[34] This was also the same year when they released their "best of" compilation album. The Abbott brothers would go on to form a new band called Damageplan (read below)

Death of Abbott brothers

Shortly after Pantera disbanded, guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul formed a new band named Damageplan, with vocalist Pat Lachman and bassist Bob Zilla. Damageplan released their first and only album New Found Power in 2004. 44,000 copies were sold in its first week.

On December 8, 2004, less than a minute into the first song of a Damageplan show at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, a 25 year-old man named Nathan Gale walked onstage with a gun, shooting and killing the guitarist Dimebag Darrell.[35] Gale would kill three other people before being shot dead by Columbus police office officer James Niggemeyer.[36]

The other Abbott brother, Vinnie Paul, would go on to form the band Hellyeah after Dimebag's death. However, Vinnie Paul died of heart failure in 2018, and Hellyeah would go on an hiatus after that.[37]


In July 2022, it was announced that Rex Brown and Phil Anselmo will reunite in 2023 for a tour, with Zakk Wylde (Guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne) and Charlie Benante (Drummer for Anthrax) to fill in for drum and guitar.[38]

Musical Style

Pantera is considered a groove metal band,[39] as well as being the pioneers of the genre.[40] The band's early albums in the 80s were glam metal with Kiss and Van Halen influence along with New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) influence.[41] Pantera can also be described as thrash metal.[42]

Groove metal is an offshoot of thrash metal,[43] being more mid-tempo, having downtuned guitars, and screaming. Cowboys from Hell is considered standard groove metal, while Vulgar Display of Power has elements of thrash metal.[44] Far Beyond Driven has elements of death metal and The Great Southern Trendkill has death metal and grindcore elements.[45]

Despite being a glam metal band in their early years, the band has perceived themselves as never "selling out" or giving into trends. This is most noticeably highlighted in the themes and title of The Great Southern Trendkill. Anselmo said:

"We've survived every fu##ing trend—heavy metal, "grunge metal", funk metal, rap metal—and we're still here. We put everyone on notice that we don't fu## around. Our fans know we're true right down to the fu##ing core."[46]

Aside from their glam and thrash metal influences, the band cites Black Sabbath as one of their favorite bands.


  • Metal Magic (1983)
  • Projects in the Jungle (1984)
  • I Am the Night (1985)
  • Power Metal (1988)
  • Cowboys from Hell (1990)
  • Vulgar Display of Power (1992)
  • Far Beyond Driven (1994)
  • The Great Southern Trendkill (1996)
  • Reinventing the Steel (2000)

Band Members

Current Members

  • Phil Anselmo (Vocals) (1986 - 2003, 2022 -)
  • Rex Brown (Bass) (1982 - 2003, 2022 -)

Former Members

  • Terry Glaze (Vocals) (1981 - 1986)
  • Tommy Bradford (Bass) (1981 - 1982)
  • Dimebag Darrell (Guitars) (1981 - 2003; died 2004)
  • Vinnie Paul (Drums) (1981 - 2003; died 2018)

Touring Musicians

  • Zakk Wylde (Guitars) (2022 -)
  • Charlie Benante (Drums) (2022 -)



External links