It’s been over 20 years since their last album and 18 since the band broke up, but the mark Pantera left on the music world will last forever. Over the course of their five classic albums (everyone involved pretends the preceding four never happened), Pantera delivered countless heavy riffs and classic jams.
Our friends over at REVOLVER are celebrating all things Pantera by releasing the Book of Pantera. The collector’s issue comes with five separate covers, each celebrating one of Pantera’s classic albums: “Cowboys From Hell,” “Vulgar Display of Power,” “Far Beyond Driven,” “The Great Southern Trendkill” and “Reinventing the Steel.” They’ve also released limited edition vinyl versions of each of those albums, available in bundles with the coinciding magazine.
The release made us a little nostalgic for the iconic metal band, I couldn’t help thinking about the first time I ever heard Pantera. I was at the Odeum in Villa Park, Illinois to watch an ECW pay-per-view. The main event involved Rob Van Dam, who used to walk out to the ring to Pantera’s “Walk.” The second that grinding riff came out over the PA, the crowd erupted, soon screaming along, “Re! Spect! Walk! What did you say?” It was intoxicating. As I rode home from the event I couldn’t get the song out of my head, in part because it was such an earworm, but also because it was the soundtrack to such an electric evening. Less than 24 hours later I was slipping my brand new copy of “Vulgar Display of Power” into the CD player of my Chrysler LeBaron and driving far too fast cranking the volume to a level that tested the integrity of they poor car’s speakers.
My own fond memories of Pantera led me to reach out to some of our favorite tattoo artists who love to keep their shops loud while they work and asked them some questions about the original Cowboys From Hell.
Do you remember the first time you ever heard Pantera?
Jesse Levitt: I first heard Pantera when I was 15 when my friend gave me the album “Far Beyond Driven.”
Nikki Simpson: The first time I heard Pantera was actually when I was a preteen watching “Beavis and Butthead.” They were watching the music video “This Love” and making fun of Phil Anselmo as if Pantera was a kid, like, “Dammit Pantera this beer is warm, get me another one!” And “You treat your stepmother with respect, Pantera! Or you’ll be sleeping in the street!”
Mada Fleming: I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. My mom was dating some scary dude with long hair and tattoos. Pantera popped up on the radio and he blasted it. I remember being super freaked out. I can’t recall if it was “Mouth for War” or “Walk” but it was one of those songs. I was super put off but also enthralled that music could create fear and excitement like that. When you’re a kid, it’s like watching a scary movie. I definitely wanted more of that feeling.
What is your favorite Pantera song?
Jesse Levitt: My favorite song would be “5 Minutes Alone.” It’s just catchy and badass. Gets me pumped up to shred on my skate or snowboard! Which is my other passion other than art and tattooing.
Nikki Simpson: I’d probably have to say “Becoming” is my favorite song. The lyrics are so gnarly and empowering and the main riff is just so nasty and groovy, all that shredding you typically hear from Dimebag wasn’t even needed for this to just be a strong, heavy ass song. There was a point in my life where I hung on a lot of musician’s lyrics for strength, and having someone as powerful as Phil translating pain and anger into being “born again, with snake’s eyes, becoming godsize.” It just gives you the chills and motivation to be a bad motherfucker and rise above. So it’s either that song or “Domination.” That song has the heaviest breakdown of all time, of any genre of metal. I have “DOMINATE” tattooed on my knuckles because of that song.
Mada Fleming: I’m trying not to be a basic bitch and say “Cemetery Gates,” but that song had a huge impact on me because before that I had only heard the harder side of Pantera. Before that I had never even owned an album of theirs because I think I was still too young to ask my mom to buy me one in fear that she would be worried [laughs]. Definitely “Cemetery Gates.”
What do you think the band’s legacy is/will be?
Jesse Levitt: The band’s legacy will always be that they are super fucking tough. Dimebag will always be remembered as a metal hero for sure, as will the rest of the band.
Mada Fleming: At the time [they were active], I feel like Pantera was the only major label band carrying the flag for true metal, while most of their contemporaries were going soft. They just continued to get heavier with each release. Not to mention Dimebag Darrell, obviously.
Nikki Simpson: Pantera is that band that no matter what genre of metal you’re into—from death metal, to hardcore, to thrash, to black metal, and shit, even glam rock and blues—there’s something for everyone in their music. Their groove and heaviness and musical virtuosity is unparalleled and their sound just can’t be replicated. Aside from their sound being timeless, their southern swagger and badass attitude just made them somehow even fucking cooler because you knew not a second of it was a gimmick. These dudes just came to shred and party and anytime you hear Pantera, you’re instantly pumped. That’s a mighty fine legacy to me.