We accidentally published this one early a couple of weeks ago. If you’ve already read it, well, read it again. And if not, hey, great! Read it now! – Eds.
If you weren’t there, you may have only heard how Pantera was the only metal band that mattered in the new, joyless ’90s Alternative Nation. If you didn’t know better, you may discount that fact with evidence that by then every good metal band went missing or to shit, so to reign atop that turdpile is no accomplishment. In analysis, you could point out that Pantera practiced cautious image control after their laughable start, careful to resemble no thrash metal band in appearance or message. The former was grunge-acceptable (flannel alert!) and the latter alternated between vague metalisms (Cowboys), macho hardcore effrontery (Vulgar), and woe-is-me horseshit (Driven, Trendkill). All of which combined to allow Pantera to qualify on a technicality as an acceptable post-Cobain band, at least until they made a doomed return to feel-good metal (the incredible Reinventing The Steel).
That only explains why Pantera was, like, successful. All the incidentals and good timing, however, do not account for the band’s mind-boggling Christ-fucking awesomeness. That we can safely attribute to talent and hard work and smarts. But a lot of bands confused the roots of Pantera’s success (the opportunity) with the fertilizer and sunshine (the music and effort) that grew it to gargantuan proportions. See, metal people had been running scared in the face of all the sad-bastard bands who sang only about somebody’s asshole dad. To us starving metal castaways, Pantera turned into four man-sized chicken drumsticks, each glistening and wearing a perplexed expression as we began to drool and tie on bibs: somehow, this one band was metal and successful at the most unlikely of times. But it was an illusion. It isn’t, wasn’t, and never will be enough to ape breakthrough bands like Pantera by, say, upping your rate of self-important chest-thumping or vaccuum-packing your production to the point of synthetic otherness. By the way, I will never fucking forgive the oft-shirtless Anselmo for ushering muscle-bound aggro dudes into our formerly jock-free metal paradise. Sigh.
If only more than a very few emerging bands actually understood the Pantera Example, the ability to be singular, essential, unforgettable, and of no scene: Tool, System of a Down, and eventually Deftones. Instead, half-ass bands worldwide proudly wore Pantera’s colors, though faded and unflattering to such senseless blobs. Talk about missing the point.
THE LIST SO FAR: