It’s twenty years since Pantera released Vulgar Display Of Power. That’s the same as the span of time between the Beatles’ first world tour and Van Halen’s Jump. Or between Led Zeppelin IV and Pearl Jam’s Ten. It seems hard to believe now, where crunchy metal riffs are used in everything from kids’ movies to breakfast cereal ads, but once upon a time the closest thing to metal heard outside bedrooms and car stereos was the likes of Poison and Bon Jovi. Vulgar Display helped to change all that. Along with Metallica’s Black album, it was enormously influential on musicians looking to break free of the stylistic quirks of cock rock without switching gears to the grunge sounds that were rapidly gaining prominence. Pantera combined jagged, hi-fi, post-thrash guitar tones with aggressive vocals, harsh production and a sense of groove – borrowed from Southern Rock – and in the process they ignited a revolution.
“We had a lot of hunger. A lot of the juices were flowing, big-time, and I just remember it being a really creative period for the band,” bass player Rex Brown says of 1992-vintage Pantera. “Very creative. We knew what direction we were headed and we were very aware of where we wanted to go, yet it just came out so naturally that we didn’t have to second-guess anything. There it was! Every day we were waking up just wanting to go to work.”
Got the Dean mail-out yesterday with info about their NAMM webcast and 35th anniversary celebrations. The graphic at the top of the email looked cool enough – bitchen two-headed eagle thing, NAMM dates, booth number… but then I looked in the bottom left corner, two axes tucked away behind another:
Good lord. It’s a Dean VMNT Dave Mustaine signature with a Peace Sells …But Who’s Buying? graphic, and a version (with a different headstock) of one of Dimebag Darrell’s lesser-known but cooler Dean MLs! In fact, this was the guitar Dime was using in one of the first pics I ever saw of him, in a Randall ad back in the day when Dime went by the name Diamond Darrell publicly instead of Dimebag Darrell. You can see Dime using this axe in this video for “Primal Concrete Sledge,” and that’s what this Dean model is named: the Dime ‘Concrete Sledge’ ML. The original was actually a Washburn neck on a Dean body.
Keep an eye on Dean’s website and I Heart Guitar at NAMM time!
So what’s with all these reunions and re-joinings lately? The last few years have seen the return of: Alice In Chains, Extreme, Van Halen with David Lee Roth, Living Colour, Led Zeppelin, Testament with Alex Skolnick, Winger, Mr. Big, Lynch Mob, Faith No More, Rage Against The Machine, The Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction, and Black Sabbath’s Heaven & Hell line-up. And there are probably a whole bunch more in the works. It’s almost easier to list bands that haven’t reunited compared to those that have. So let’s look at some possible reunions and look at how likely they are to actually happen.
When Soundgarden broke up in the late 90s, it was pretty much accepted that they were well and truly done. Singer Chris Cornell went on to Audioslave and a few solo albums. His recent collaboration with Timbaland has drawn the intense ire of casual and hardcore fans. Meanwhile guitarist Kim Thayll has been pretty much missing-in-action for about a decade, at least in terms of chart-topping band-dom. So is there any chance of a Soundgarden reunion? Has enough water gone under the proverbial bridge, or has that bridge been forever dashed into the raging waters of interband tensions and extraband aspirations?
Magic 8 ball says: Outlook not so good. Give Cornell another year of trying to flog his Timbaland stuff to a conflicted audience, before he starts calling around his former Soundgarden mates. Drummer Matt Cameron might not be down for a reunion because he’s doing quite well in Pearl Jam. Perhaps Dave Grohl will fill in.
We’re all quite aware of the tragic death of Dimebag Darrell in 2004, not to mention the rising tensions between Dime/Vinnie and Rex/Phil, which drove the band apart in the first place. Obviously the great obstacle to a Pantera reunion is the fact that Dime is no longer with us, but hey, if Jason Bonham could step into Led Zeppelin to fill the role of someone as important to their sound as John Bonham was, perhaps some other guitarist could take the place of Dimebag for a sensitively-handled tribute tour on the 10th anniversary of his passing? Possible candidates: Zakk Wylde or Kerry King, both of whom were tight with Dime.
Magic 8 ball says: Very doubtful. Maybe Vinnie and Zakk will team up to do something some day in honour of Dimebag, and Rex might even be invited along, but it’ll take an awful lot of smoothing-over for them to get past their feud with Phil.
Megadeth Rust In Peace line-up
Dave Mustaine’s very happy with his current line-up of Megadeth, and they seem to be a big hit with fans too, but there’s still a lot of sentimentalism for the classic line-up which recorded Rust In Peace, Countdown To Extinction, Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings. Mustaine had a pretty public falling-out with bass player David Ellefson but if there’s one thing Dave’s known for, it’s changing his mind (cf: Mustaine Vs Metallica, Mustaine 4 Jackson, Mustaine 4 ESP, Mustaine 4 Dean, Mustaine 4 Line 6, Mustaine 4 Marshall).
Magic 8 ball says: Yes. Dave’s a dude who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to walk through fire to make it happen, and if he decides the time is right to bring back the Rust In Peace line-up, you better believe they’ll be back. Y’know, the 20th anniversary of Rust In Peace is next year…
KISS reunited in their original form in the 90s, only to eventually do away with Peter Criss and Ace Frehley in favour of Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer respectively, wearing Peter and Ace’s makeup. Fans still long for a re-reunion of the original line-up, but are they going to get it?
Magic 8 ball says: Don’t count on it. Instead, the Revenge line-up will get back together: Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick. However, the makeup thing continues to pay off, so they will dress Bruce up in prosthetic makeup to make him look like Tommy Thayer, then they’ll put Ace’s makeup over the top.
Sabbath have reunited many times over the years, and officially they still exist in the Tony Iommi/Geezer Butler/Bill Ward/Ozzy Osbourne incarnation. Will they once again strap on the demonic imagery and sludgy riffs to bless the metal world with classic Sabbath doom?
Magic 8 ball says: Very doubtful. With each year Ozzy seems to be less and less able to perform to the standard of his hey-day: I love the Ozzman myself but his 2008 Australian tour was a bit of a shambles in the vocal department, saved only by a Zakk Wylde tantrum and the solid bass playing of Blasko. I think Iommi and Butler will continue on with Heaven & Hell without formally putting an end to their partnership with Ozzy. The money and the will may be there, but until Ozzy’s able to meet the Sabbath standards, a new tour or album is unlikely.
8 Ball images courtesy of Spike’s 8 Ball.
Check back next Monday for Part 2!