From the ashes of Pantera rise Damageplan to usher in a new golden age of power- groovin’ metal. In an exclusive interview, legendary guitarist Dimebag Darrell tells the whole truth and nothin’ but the truth, so help him God.
“C’mon! Getcha pull,” Dimebag Darrell roars as he showers a delighted fan with a fistful of freshly minted guitar picks that bear the name of his new group, Damageplan. The recipient, who has waited hours in the bitter cold to meet his hero, cocks back his head and catches several picks in his mouth. “Goddamn, son!” Dime exclaims as he and the watching throng whoop with raucous approval. “I’m hooking you up with one of my signature Dunlop wah pedals for that move!” As the guitarist hands over a freshly signed Dimebag Crybaby from Hell, the overwhelmed fan drops to his knees in classic “I am not worthy” fashion. Laughing heartily, Dime rewards him with what he calls a Black Tooth Grin—a slug of Seagram’s 7 with a splash of Coke—then gets suitably animated with the man for a couple of photos before sending him off in a euphoric daze.
Such scenes of comic mayhem are commonplace at Dime’s Dunlop-sponsored in-store appearance at the Sam Ash store in Carle Place, New York, on this December day. Despite subzero conditions, hundreds of fans happily stand outside for hours without complaint for a moment of face time with the former Pantera guitarist. The goateed one obliges by signing everything thrown in front of him—CDs, guitars, posters, pedals— for more than five hours straight, refusing to stop until the last person in line was satisfied.
Throughout the signing, cuts from New Found Power, the upcoming debut album from Damageplan—Dime’s post-Pantera project—blare through the speakers. The fans waste no time in voicing their approval of the new music, a ferocious mix of hard metal and melodic hooks that features Dime’s brother and former Pantera bandmate Vinnie Paul on drums, Bob Zilla on bass, and onetime Rob Halford guitarist Patrick Lachman on vocals. While the music pumps, fans pepper Dime with questions: “When does the record come out?” “When will you guys start touring?” A few, however, simply want to know what everyone wants to know: What happened to Pantera? How did the little band from Texas that grew to become one of metal’s most respected and revered outfits just suddenly fall apart?
As most metal fans know, Pantera have been strangely silent since the release of their 2000 album, Reinventing the Steel. Shortly after the record’s release and tour, frontman Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown took time off to work on the second album from their side project, Down. What might have been a temporary hiatus for Pantera dragged on as Anselmo then formed numerous additional projects, including Superjoint Ritual, with whom he released albums in 2002 and 2003.