Remembering Dimebag Darrell Ten Years Later: Machine Head’s Robb Flynn
On December 8, 2004, Dimebag Darrell Abbott was brutally murdered while playing live with Damageplan. The already-legendary Pantera guitarist was just thirty-eight years old. Today, the tenth anniversary of his death, heavy hitters from throughout the metal world will honor this fallen icon on MetalSucks by sharing their favorite Dime riffs, solos, and, in some cases, personal remembrances. Below, Robb Flynn, guitarist and vocalist for Machine Head, discusses his favorite Dime solo:
As MetalSucks writer Sergeant D so eloquently pointed out “trashing Pantera [today] is asking to get chased with torches and pitchforks — the polar opposite of 1993, when you would be hard-pressed to find a band that metal nerds hated more.” And it’s true. It’s hard to imagine now, but back in the day, Pantera were not considered cool. When I first heard them back in 1991 at Rick Hunolt from Exodus’ house on one of my many crack-infused all-nighters, I was like, “Oh yeah, that glam band from Texas?” I was rocking to Cowboys from Hell, and saw them live on that tour. But I wasn’t crazy about them. I thought they were good players, and entertaining as fuck, but back then I definitely wouldn’t have been all, “Dude oh my god, Pantera is the fuckin’ shit, brah!!” Something about their glam past just always seemed to make this “new,” heavy Pantera seem a little fake.
But man, when Vulgar Display of Power dropped, it was like, “holy shit.” Most of my friends at the time were punk rockers, and even they had to go, “God DAMN, that shit is heavy.”
My go-to track to play for people was always “A New Level.” The guitar tone when it came out was just the stupidest, most ignorant guitar tone I’d ever heard up to that point. It became THE guitar tone to beat, and I can tell ya, when we made our debut album, Burn My Eyes, we had Vulgar on A LOT, just a+b-ing to that fucking insane guitar tone. The savage high end, the super tight low end, it was so “scooped” sounding, yet still had a ton of midrange bite. The fact that Dimebag’s right hand was other-worldly certainly helped matters, and the production work that his brother Vinnie Paul did (who played a HUGE role in the sound of that album) along with Terry Date, made it sound absolutely face-shredding. By the time you get to the solo section of “A New Level,” with the combination of Dime’s ridiculously strong vibrato, smooth hammer-ons/pull-offs, and his full-on mastery of the Floyd Rose with his crazy accurate tremolo picking, you know this song is a straight classic, (though if I had to pick my favorite Dime solos, it’d have to be “This Love” and goddamn “Psycho Holiday,” which is frankly just NUTZO!!)
I cannot tell you how many years I have scoured the web, eBay, and pawn shops looking for the extremely rare Randall Century 200 head that Dime used on that album, not because I’d want to use it for us, but just to play through the thing and see what the deal was. I’ve also gone to great lengths to find another of the secret weapons in Dime’s arsenal, which was a rack mount effects processor called the MXR Doubler, which is what helped gave Dime that surreal, stereo, three-dimensionality to his tone.
He was truly one-of-a-kind, I’ve never met anybody like him, and Machine Head was fortunate enough to tour with Pantera twice, once on Ozzfest ’97, and a few months later when they took us out supporting them on the Live: 101 Proof tour. He killed it live, KILLED IT, and every one of those drinking stories you heard about him were true — the dude’s liver was in-fucking-human!
Long live Dimebag Darrell in the hearts of us all.