After Pantera announced they would be embarking on a 2023 reunion tour earlier this week, it’s now been reported that the band’s surviving members – bassist Rex Brown and frontman Phil Anselmo – will be joined by electric guitar heavyweight Zakk Wylde and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante for a handful of festival and headline appearances next year.
According to a report by Billboard, Wylde and Benante’s appointment has been approved by the estates of the band's late co-founders, Vinnie Paul Abbott and his younger brother Dimebag Darrell. The lineup will be embark on Pantera’s first tour in over 20 years, after their 2003 split.
The report also states the reunion tour will see the lineup perform at a number of festival dates across North America and Europe, and host a handful of their own headline shows.
Wylde was favored by many to be drafted in to fill the spot left by the late Dimebag Darrell, who was murdered onstage in 2004. Brown had previously guaranteed the Black Label Society man wouldn’t be involved in any reunion project.
“It wouldn’t be Zakk Wylde,” the Pantera bassist told eonmusic in February last year. “I guarantee you that. I’ve just put it out there so we can get on past it.”
However, many spectators long tapped Wylde – who was a close friend of Dimebag – to be the only realistic option for the role. Wylde has jammed with Pantera live. And he was a regular guest onstage with Dimebag's post-Pantera project, Damageplan; he also provided a guitar solo on their track, Reborn, from 2004 debut, New Found Power.
Since the announcement that Anselmo and Brown were putting a lineup together to tour under the Pantera banner, the internet has been ablaze with speculation – and everyone has an opinion. Prior to the news breaking on Wylde's appointment, Avenged Sevenfold singer M Shadows took to Twitter to voice his support for the appointment, arguing that Wylde would be a “perfect fit” for the role.
Irregardless of our personal feelings, it seems that this @Pantera reunion reminds us that life is fragile and short. We live in an era where Phil and Rex can still go out there and perform the songs and soon that time will pass too. Enjoy it while you can. Looking forward.July 14, 2022
Joining Wylde in the reunion lineup is Anthrax’s Benante, who has been tapped to fill Pantera co-founder, drummer and Darrell’s brother Vinnie Paul’s spot. Paul passed away in 2018 of natural causes.
Benante also has an appropriate Pantera pedigree, having played with Rex Brown – as well as Slipknot's Corey Taylor and Dave Grohl – at the 2019 Dimebash event, which paid tribute to the late guitar hero.
Reaction to the news of a reunion tour has been mixed, with many Pantera fans focussing on the absence of the Abbott brothers. “There is no Pantera without Dime and Vinnie, pack it up already,” wrote one user, while another said, “Pantera with Zakk [Wylde] ten years ago would've been a beautiful tribute. But no Abbott brothers doesn't make much sense.”
There has been no official statement from Anselmo or Brown as yet. Or indeed Zakk Wylde, who will appear alongside an all-star cast of guitarists on Ozzy Osbourne's forthcoming album, Patient Number 9.