Singles & EPs
If there’s a single image that summarizes what Pantera were all about, it’s the fist throttling some poor sucker’s face that adorns the cover of their 1992 landmark album Vulgar Display of Power. The unapologetically defiant Texans were peerless in their personification of heavy-metal aggression both onstage and off. Prior to their 2003 breakup, Pantera unleashed a string of punishing and profoundly influential records that serve as the blueprint for groove metal, a uniquely American fusion of thrash’s violent shredder ethos and the greasy, rugged swagger of ’70s hard rock. It’s no exaggeration to say that just about every tune in their catalogue—“Cowboys from Hell,” “Walk,” “5 Minutes Alone,” “F*****g Hostile,” “I’m Broken”—is the sonic equivalent of a bloody bar brawl. This was very much by design. Founded in 1981, the band initially played glam metal before guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and crew consciously pressed the reset button and began developing a whole new sound, one balancing extreme heaviness with ridiculously catchy riffs and hooks. It all came together for Pantera with the addition of singer Phil Anselmo in 1987; his menacing howl fit perfectly with the group’s growing experimentation with dropped-D tuning, bone-snapping breakdowns, and chugging rhythms. Their innovations, particularly Abbott’s idiosyncratic fretwork (of which Eddie Van Halen was a big fan), have since spread throughout heavy metal’s tangled genre tree. Sludge, metalcore, death metal, nu-metal, doom, and alt-metal have all sprouted countless bands inspired by Pantera, who achieved brilliance while leaving in their wake a trail of headline-grabbing controversies and tragedies (including the murder of Abbott barely a year after the band had called it quits). Their imposing legacy places them right alongside fellow giants Metallica and Judas Priest.