|Photo source: Billboard|
In 1989, I became aware of a college radio station in Hackettstown, NJ called WNTI that had a Metal show on Thursdays nights. I often stayed up late and listened to every note that came through the speakers. It was a great experience for a 12-year-old kid, as it provided me a chance to hear a ton of bands that were new to me at the time. Testament, Exodus, Armored Saint, Laaz Rockit, Sepultura and New Jersey’s own Overkill (who had just released the epic The Years Of Decay album) were just some of the acts regularly played on the air.
As the months carried on, the show began reflecting changing times for the genre. The DJ started playing demo recordings from an unsigned New York band called Biohazard that mixed Hardcore with elements of Metal and Rap, while early tracks by “Pete from Carnivore’s” new band – still known as Repulsion at this stage – also started making waves. Then came Prong, Mordred, Faith No More, Saigon Kick, Lucy Brown, 24-7 Spyz, Scatterbrain, the Troy Gregory-conceived cerebral mindfuck of Flotsam & Jetsam’s When The Storm Come Down… Musical lines were getting blurred in real time, and those Thursday night listening sessions were always adventures in discovery. It was an intriguing time to be a Metal fan.
One evening, my ears met one of the heaviest grooves – and some of the best-produced drum and guitar sounds – ever committed to disc. I was blown away. It was another new sound for a new decade; it was another step forward.
The song was “Cowboys From Hell.” The band was Pantera.
Pantera would soon own the ’90s, selling millions of albums without compromising the intensity and integrity of their sound. At the height of Grunge, their most savage album, Far Beyond Driven, reached #1 on the Billboard charts. They sustained Metal’s place in the public consciousness more than any other group during that decade. They were untouchable.
I receive dozens of albums from new Metal bands every week through my website, and there are shades of Pantera in nearly all of them. Their influence is undeniable. They were the Black Sabbath of their time.
And Vinnie Paul was a huge reason why.
Sadly, success rarely comes without heartbreak. Vinnie saw his brother, Dime, die on stage at the hands of a deranged soul. Somehow, he found the strength to carry on with music. A man of lesser heart would have crumbled. I never knew or even met Vinnie Paul, but that tells me all I need to know about the man.
Now, that strength has been silenced. A legend has left us. The brothers are together again.
My deepest condolences to my friends who knew, worked and toured with Pantera and/or the Abbott Brothers and who now have to weather the sorrow of another loss.
Despite this terribly sad news, Vinnie’s music survives, and a lot of stereos will be very loud today. What a fucking drummer.
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