“Never underestimate the kid. You’re crazy if you do, and I am the kid!” – Philip H. Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual).
I’m a pretty big rock music fan (in case you hadn’t noticed by this point). You’ll also believe me when I say it’s one of the most controversial topics of musical conversation due to various stereotypes linked with the genre. Within itself rock/metal music contain loads upon loads of sub-genres that already cause polerisation amongst fans, let alone a majority of the world dismissing it as “just noise” (because Nicki Minaj’s “Pound the Alarm” is a masterpiece I’m sure).
However, it’s the figureheads of the genre that I want talk about. This is mainly because no matter who you talk to or where you go, there will always be someone that says “ah yeah, but they’re not as good as *insert musician here*” in turn dismissing anything that has come after a certain time period, or claiming only one member to have been the source of a band’s success. Whilst I’m not trying to change any opinions, I’m here to talk about the fact that one member does not make a band.
Pantera are the perfect example of a band who’s prowess has been nailed down to a single member; fretmaster “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott. Pantera drifted apart in the early 2000’s before Abbott was horrifically murdered on stage in 2004. As tragic as this event was and is to the rock world, it has also lead to a constant overhyping of Dimebag’s abilities and encouraged talk of the rest of his band failing to compare to him.
“He’ll always live in his [Dime’s] shadow” – Rita Haney (on Phil Anselmo)
Whilst Dimebag was a phenomenal musician and most definitely possessed rifftastic hands, to state that he was the most talented member of the band or was “the best guitarist in the world” is both extremely biased and hugely inaccurate. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there were 3 other members in Pantera, not just Abbott. Pantera were not successful purely based on Dimebag’s awesome shredding skills. They became metal titans because they gelled together as a band, and you could hear that on each record they released (as well as the numerous bottles of whiskey on Anselmo’s vocal chords). There’s a lot of the good aspects of Pantera that seem to be forgotten, being eclipsed by Dimebag’s death. The music that these four created is nothing short of anthemic. They were out for blood and enjoyed playing live, and it’s this that’s worth remembering.
Haney’s comment is exactly what irritates me. Claiming that Dimebag’s bandmates would never live up to his standard, when Anselmo not only became the frontman of Down, another successful band, but now owns his own record label. So much for living in the shadows. Anselmo was clearly underestimated as a band member, and as a former drug addict/alcoholic, nobody thought he could bounce back. Imagine the look on people’s faces (and the subsequent trouser wetting of rock fans everywhere) when he returned with an equally brutal band (well…stoner brutal) and one hell of a bone to pick. At the end of the day, Anselmo was just as big a reason for people listening to Pantera as Abbott was (and I’m not just being biased because I’m a vocalist) and the fact that he’s kept going, despite mass scrutiny, is an admirable quality in it’s own right (beside’s Down’s music being toodley fuckpies amazing!).
Well, there really isn’t more to say than that. No band is made by a single member. Whilst Dimebag deserves the accolades he’s received, without Anselmo or the rest of the band, Pantera and subsequently Dime’s success may not have ever come to fruition. The same case can be made for Freddie Mercury and Brian May, or Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl. Their bands couldn’t have existed without the each other’s talents, and it is these that combine to make awesome music! My respect actually goes to members of fallen bands that manage to get back on their feet again and start over with newer projects, especially if they were members of an already world famous music group. If you still think that Anselmo is second rate…well…he’ll probably say something like this:
‘Til Next Time