Updating an earlier version of this story, the surviving members of Pantera’s classic-era lineup, vocalist Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown, will reunite for a 2023 tour with longtime Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante, Billboard reports.
The legendary hard rock group disbanded in acrimony in 2003, and founding members/brothers “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and drummer Vincent “Vinnie Paul” Abbott died in 2004 and 2018, respectively, but Anselmo and Brown will carry the torch forward at “major festivals across North America and Europe” next year and at their own headlining concerts.
Billboard adds that the aforementioned lineup has the blessing of the Abbott brothers’ families and estates.
Formed in 1981 by the Abbotts when they were teenagers in Texas, Pantera honed its chops for years as a bar band playing Judas Priest and Van Halen covers before settling on its unique, thrash- and metal-driven sound in the early 1990s. Anselmo, who joined in 1987, described Pantera in a 1992 SPIN profile as “the heaviest band in the world.”
Thanks to 1992’s Vulgar Display of Power and its 1994 follow-up, Far Beyond Driven, Pantera became a word-of-mouth phenomenon, topping The Billboard 200 with the latter and selling out large venues with no U.S. radio support at the height of grunge. “There was something about the lyrical message and the militaristic grind of it,” Paul told SPIN in a 2012 interview of Pantera’s “Walk,” which quickly become an anthem for future scene bands such as Lamb Of God and Avenged Sevenfold. “It’s heavy as fuck, but it’s not fast. It just has a groove to it. It made the fans move.”
Pantera rocked as hard as it partied, a truism described by Dave Grohl in a 2020 Instagram post. “Anyone who ever had the honor to hang out with Pantera knows that it was not for the faint of heart,” he wrote. “First of all, there was never a band more welcoming, more hospitable, more down to earth than Pantera. It didn’t matter who you are, what you did, where you were from, they would welcome you in, stuff a beer in your hand, a shot in your mouth, and make you laugh harder than you’ve ever laughed before (until you wound up barfing it all back up and having the most soul-crushing hanger of your life the next morning).”
Unfortunately, Pantera was unable to stick together beyond the early 2000s, as the Abbott brothers feuded with Anselmo over a variety of interpersonal issues and formed their own new band, Damageplan. It was at a Damageplan gig on Dec. 8, 2004, in Columbus, Ohio, when a mentally unstable fan shot and killed Dimebag Darrell on stage; Paul passed away of heart failure in 2018.
Anselmo went on to sing in Superjoint Ritual and Down and has performed with Brown on a number of occasions over the years, as well as revisiting the Pantera catalog in more recent years with his band The Illegals. News of the reunion has been met with mixed reaction in Pantera fan circles, with many dubious of a tour without the Abbott brothers. “Wish I could get excited but Pantera isn’t Pantera without Dime and Vinnie up there,” wrote Reddit user SolanaRafael. “I couldn’t care less that it’s only two of them,” countered Reddit user Ashtimus Prime. “It’s my first and closest opportunity to see them live.”