The early 90s was a gold rush for heavy music, with some mega success stories that seem kinda baffling in hindsight. In the few years after Nirvana’s Nevermind, there was a rush to sign alternative rock bands, but plenty of metal bands got caught up in the arms race.
Texas band Pantera were one such act, headbutting through the underground with their 1992 album Vulgar Display of Power. For their follow-up they could’ve done a Metallica and toned down for a one-way ticket to the stadiums. Instead they released Far Beyond Driven in 1994 — the heaviest, most depraved record to ever top the Billboard chart.
Pantera’s implosion is one of the most tragic stories in metal — with addiction, feuds and unresolved differences between frontman Phil Anselmo and founding brothers ‘Dimebag’ Darrel and Vinnie Paul Abbott, who both died without making up.
In recent years, Anselmo has made peace with the Pantera material that made him a metal icon, and has been touring the classics with his band The Illegals. This Vulgar Display of Pantera show is a hard sell for the diehards, and it doesn’t quite sit right seeing another guitarist playing Dimebag’s riffs. But there’s no denying the sheer berzerker violence of these songs decades later — and Anselmo still has an intense presence, even if it’s through your laptop screen.
Phil Anselmo and the Illegals’ Vulgar Display of Pantera stream kicks off at midnight tonight.