Guest Post By Mark Crook
No band affected and influenced the metal world more than Pantera during the early to mid 1990’s. With the first note of their 1990 release, Cowboys From Hell, Pantera hammered the final nail into the coffin of the once thriving hair metal scene (thank God!) and ignored the alternative rock/ grunge explosion. I know our own Jason Ferruggia is arguably the biggest Pearl Jam fan on the planet and I’m sure many reading this are as well and are about to curse me out but that whole “Seattle Scene” era just didn’t excite me (except for Alice In Chains). Though I respected the bands as musicians and songwriters, that genre/ scene had what I considered to be a depressing tone with understated guitars.
(Note: Jay even bought my wife and I Pearl Jam tickets a few years back and though he did this as he is always incredibly generous, I’m sure he was also trying to make me “see the light”. About 3/4‘s through the show, I get this text from him, “are you still here?”– he knew I would be a tough sell. )
On the other hand, Pantera was full of piss and vinegar rebellion with guitar squarely in your face. It had elements of thrash and a bit of hardcore that I liked but also had this swing groove (I will use this “groove” description often) that sounded like no one else. In a world of grunge and the also growing rap/hip hop explosions, I found a band I could turn to.
I had the chance to meet Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul as a result of their friendship with my brother, Paul. It was on January 18, 1997 at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, NJ. We were at an after show meet and greet in what was an unheated room adjoining the theater. It was very cold but Dime and Vinnie spent time with the fans, laughing it up, taking pictures and couldn’t be more pleasant. In spite of the uncomfortable elements, they were in no rush to leave. They spent a few minutes speaking with my brother and I and then we left them to spend time with the many fans wanting some time with their heroes.
I remember the day Dimebag was murdered. The shock of the violence, that pang you get in the pit of your gut from hearing about someone dying so senselessly at such a young age and who influenced or affected your life in some way. I immediately recalled when I met him but also immediately recalled memories of Pantera music— whether it was blasting in my car, at a party, etc. as well as watching the amazingly funny Dimevision videos (check Youtube for a sample if you want to laugh) — the guy was just so full of life. Knowing I would never hear Dimebag play again nor experience what else he had to offer this world was a sad thought.
But I’m so thankful Pantera did indeed exist and their musical legacy continues to provide me enjoyment as well as contribute so much to my training. So I bring you, in no particular order, from the true Cowboys from Hell, my “Top 10 Pantera Songs To Train To” with a bonus song thrown in for good measure!
Disclaimer: As usual, these songs may or may not necessarily be my favorite Pantera songs and all albums may not be represented– though I love these 11 songs. Rather they are my choice for best training songs
5 Minutes Alone- “Far Beyond Driven” 1994
I generally get amped up by a riff but sometimes the words help with turning up my aggression a bit in the gym. This song and the story behind it do just that… a take no sh*t attitude. As Vinnie Paul explained, “There was a guy in the front row at Pine Knob in Detroit who was heckling Phil. Finally, several people in the crowd just jumped this guy’s ass and beat the shit out of him on the spot, so he sued us. And when his dad called our manager, his exact quote was, ‘you just give me five minutes alone with that Phil Anselmo guy and I’ll show him who’s big daddy around here.’ Phil’s response was, ‘You just give me five minutes alone with that cat’s dad and I’ll whoop his ass.’ That’s where that song came from.”
Becoming- “Far Beyond Driven”- 1994
A great Pantera groove, Vinnie’s military march sounding beat precision with that patented Dimebag guitar squeal.
Domination- “Cowboys From Hell”- 1990
From the first note, you are immediately involuntarily banging your head and walking quickly to the barbell to destroy whatever set you were preparing for. The moshing riff at the end of the song is just killer and for Pantera fans, one of the more memorable.
Mouth For War- “Vulgar Display Of Power- 1992
That mix of speed and Pantera groove, not to mention those harmonic notes that every metalhead hits with their air guitar.
F—ing Hostile- “Vulgar Display of Power”- 1992
One of those great Pantera anthems. A mix of punk and speed with the patented Phil growl.
Walk- “Vulgar Display Of Power”- 1992
Whether it is the recurring, amazing riff or catchy “Re- spect” chorus chant, this song is one of the most popular if not THE most popular Pantera song. Not a frantic song that gets your heart racing… instead a mid-tempo swinging groove that only Dime could pull off.
Primal Concrete Sledge- “Cowboys From Hell”- 1990
A song that showcases Vinnie and a great example of he and Dime locking in and delivering a great riff.
I’m Broken- “Far Beyond Driven”- 1994
Heavy, powerful metal. This album debuted at Number One on the Billboard Top 200 and I’m sure this song is one of the reasons why.
A New Level- “Vulgar Display of Power”- 1992
This song and album continued the path the band took of making their metal heavier than their previous metal. A tuned down, dark, angry, crunchy riff.
The Great Southern Trendkill- “The Great Southern Trendkill”- 1996
Many have called this album Pantera’s least popular and to some, least liked album. As their biography explains, rap-metal was becoming very popular as a result of the growing rap and hip hop scene and the band seemed to be experimenting a bit with their songwriting. But they continued to stay true to themselves and did not conform to mainstream. This song seems to epitomize that F-U attitude from the very first moment with as hostile a scream as you will ever hear.
Drag The Waters- “The Great Southern Trendkill”- 1996
Thick, syrupy, chunky, simple, bluesy riff. I also appreciate Rex Brown on bass in this song– he is so dialed in with Dime on so many songs- it almost always seems as if Dime’s guitar is just doubled- this one is a great example. I believe Rex is highly underrated as a bass player.
I’ll end with a fun little anecdote… the below was taken from an interview my brother did in 2005 as Paul was discussing the addition of Dime to a tribute section of a Queen musical in Las Vegas that Paul was playing guitar in.
“…Dimebag. What an incredible person he was. There’s a real funny story, we were on tour in North America and we were hanging out at a hotel. We were in the hallway of the hotel sitting on the floor, on the rug. I don’t know why, we were just sitting on the rug. Had a bottle of Crown Royal, which was Dimebag’s favorite thing – whiskey (note: look up Black Tooth Grin). And there were three of us. It was me, Dime and his buddy Bobby. And we started talking about the music biz and money and stuff and he says to me, he called me Kevorkian, Dr. Kevorkian (note: called Paul “Kevorkian” because his white spiked haircut looked like Dr. Kevorkian’s hair). He said “you know Kevorkian, I just hope that I have enough money to get a new liver when this is all over.” And that’s Dimebag. That was him”.