US metal band Pantera are to reunite for their first tour in more than 20 years – despite the fact half the band are dead.
The Texan four-piece broke-up in 2003, with the band involved in a public war-of-words following the acrimonious split.
Founding members, guitar player "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and his drummer brother Vinnie Paul Abbott, went on to form new band Damageplan after Pantera went their separate ways.
When Dimebag was shot dead in Ohio, USA, by a schizophrenic fan while performing on stage in 2004 at age 38, hopes of Pantera reuniting seemed dashed.
And when older sibling Vinnie passed in 2018 of heart disease, the door appeared to have slammed shut on the chances of what was once the world's biggest metal band ever playing live again.
But an announcement Stateside has got fans of heavy music excited and annoyed in almost equal measure.
Will Pantera ever tour again?
That question has been asked by metalheads around the world for almost two decades, and it appears the answer is yes.
Artist Group International (AGI) told Billboard they had signed-up the last two surviving members of Pantera, with a view to booking a reunion tour.
The suggestion is that they will put on a number of their own shows, as well as headlining major festivals across North America and Europe in 2023.
“We are thrilled to be working with such an iconic band and bringing their music back to the fans,” said Peter Pappalardo, an agent for AGI.
It would see lead singer Phil Anselmo and original bass player Rex Brown hit the road armed with anthems such as Walk and Cemetery Gates, with stand-in performers taking care of guitar and drum duties.
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According to music magazine Revolver, Zakk Wylde – one of Ozzy Osbourne’s most successful guitarists – and Charlie Benante, drummer for thrash band Anthrax, are lined-up to fill the roles.
The idea of Wylde – a close friend of Dimebag’s – and Benante stepping in has reportedly been given the green light by the estates of the deceased Abbott brothers, paving the way for a new tour.
Pantera’s last show was in August 2001 and their last performance in the UK took place at London’s Brixton Academy in April 2000, according to Setlist.fm.
How Pantera became one of the world's biggest metal bands
Pantera was formed in 1981 by Dimebag and Vinnie, with the band – joined by Rex Brown a year later – mostly performing what is known as “glam metal”.
But after Phil Anselmo joined in 1988, the band slowly moved towards a style called groove metal, with their 1990 record Cowboys From Hell helping to make a name for the act.
Their 1992 follow-up, A Vulgar Display of Power, saw the band get heavier and swell their fanbase thanks to hook-filled riffs and powerful lyrics in signature songs like Mouth For War and Hostile.
Pantera would reach the peak of their powers two years later when LP Far Beyond Driven debuted at number one in the US billboard chart and climbed as high as number three in the UK.
Seen as the torchbearers for heavy music in a decade where the offshoot of rap-metal became increasingly popular, the band continued to darken their sound, releasing the uncompromising Great Southern Trendkill in 1996.
Their final album, Reinventing The Steel in 2000, saw them come back to more accessible material but, with tensions on tour and in the studio boiling over, the band officially went their separate ways three years later.
Path to reunion – and controversy
Since the deaths of the Abbott brothers, Anselmo’s solo band – Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals – have been playing Pantera covers, including during their 2019 tour of Britain.
The Illegals were invited out on the US-leg of the retirement tour of thrash veterans Slayer in the same year, opting to play only choice-cut Pantera songs.
The decision to resurrect popular numbers such as I'm Broken in a live setting appears to have propelled the idea of bringing the living members back together to blast out some fan favourites once again.
Not all fans are happy though. Some do not feel Pantera’s name should be used for a tour when the founding members have both died.
Anselmo is also a controversial figure after being accused of shouting “white power” and giving the Nazi salute to a Hollywood crowd at a memorial show for Dimebag in 2016.
While he has since apologised, saying the actions were not in his nature and that he was very drunk, fans have been outspoken online about boycotting any of his future shows.
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