Forget all that has transpired over the last two weeks involving Phil Anselmo, and all those that are quick to jump off a so called “sinking ship”. The witch hunt of the trendy, flavor of the week hipsters, and the newly found righteous, still carries momentum to kick a man when he is down. For all the righteous, new school of the underground, and I use that term very loosely due to the fact that the youth of today are clueless to the rich history that is ingrained for all to find and discover, and more importantly embrace, shit all over the scene with their lack of respect and entitled feeling of self importance and worth. Lets take a look at what this “big bully” has done for heavy metal, and even for some of his detractors.
With all things in life, sometimes if you were not a part of it, you just don’t get it and understand it. The same holds true with music, especially when the music or band becomes bigger than everything goin at the time. With such colossal ramifications, comes the hate and the jealousy. Heavy metal has always been about going against the grain, an us versus them mentality. When it comes to Pantera, since the early 90’s there has been a very definitive line that headbangers world wide stand on one side or the other. The first side is that of mindset that they helped saved heavy metal in a time where cock rock glam and grunge where the things to be into. Fans of heavy metal were not running around yelling Poison, they were screaming FUCKING SLAYERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR at the top of their lungs. It was at a time when loyalists began to turn their backs on their beloved Metallica for the offering of their self titled “Black Album.” The Cowboys From Hell were what the masses of metal maniacs were craving. They toured non stop, playing small dive clubs on their own, opening for acts such as Suicidal Tendencies and Exodus, earning the respect of metal crowds the world over. Then on February 25, 1992 the game as we know it changed. “Vulgar Display of Power” was released and the world would never be the same again. The record came out when the death metal storm was leveling listeners. While not everyone was into the death metal scene, the new found aggression of Pantera launched the band to the top of the new age metal mountain seemingly abandoned by Metallica, and propelled the legions of fans clamoring for more. More is what the bands ever mounting loyal fan base got, when in March of 1994 “Far Beyond Driven” was released. It was a continuation where Pantera had left off on “Vulgar Diaplay”, and the album was the most extreme album to clock in at number 1 on The Billboard 200. The band had really picked up momentum by this point due to the hectic touring schedule and all out balls to the wall, take no prisoners attitude they displayed. Gone were they days of playing smaller clubs with an intimate setting. Some of the finest music venues in the country could no longer contain Pantera. Dimebag Darrell was on the cover of any guitar magazine you could find, and the band collectively was heralded as the saviors of heavy metal. This is where the people on the second side of the line come in, and it was kind of like a divided second side. You had the people that felt like yes, Pantera helped keep metal going and deserved all they achieved for the years of busting their ass, but there were now other bands deserving of the fans helping to get to new levels and heights. Then you had the ones that had and undying hatred for the band just because they were” The Band” when it came to metal. Whether it was out of fear of the band leaving them behind and “selling out” with their new found success, or just hating and dissecting the band to be different and stand out from the pack. I vividly remember the Metallica discussions. “I love Metallica, been a fan forever now. “Enter Sandman” is the shit!! Really???? What about “Ride The LIghtning” and “Master of Puppets” and all the other killer stuff they have? Master of what is the usual response, or the “You listen to heavy metal? You like Metallica?” This is the time when some fans and media began reporting on everything they could to discredit Pantera any chance they got. Looking at the band, and more importantly Phil under a microscope. Hit Parader, are they still around? Hit Parader would publish articles like Pantera band members and crew travel in one bus, while Phil Anselmo and his rockstar ego ride in another. Pantera members reach out to Tim “Ripper” Owens of Judas Priest
to replace Anselmo. MTV, only seemed to mention the band when something wasn’t quite right or tragedy had struck them. I refuse to get into the well documented demons that affected the band shortly after the release of “Far Beyond Driven”, and the tours that followed.The spotlight, some fair, some not, was centered on Anselmo. Another well documented fact was that the Cowboys from Hell were the hardest partying band in the land. Look at the home videos that the band had put out. While all were partying their asses off, I never once saw Philip falling down on his ass, vomiting, or being destructive, yet he was the focal point for the attacks from media and fans.
Still being the band, Pantera took bands out on the road with them they felt they could help, and bands they thought deserved some attention. While there were many bands, two bands in particular stand out to me. The first band is Anthrax, an established band that was trying to recapture the glory days with new singer John Bush. While Bush was the front man for Armored Saint, and had nothing to prove with his vocal chops, Anthrax had moved on from the thrash roots and onto a more hard rock sound. Pantera had exposed the thrashers to audiences larger than they had played in years. Dimebag had become a regular guest on Anthrax albums beginning with “Stomp 442”, while Philip would regularly appear onstage covering Celtic Frost ‘s “Dethroned Emperor.” In the years that followed, even after the death of Dime, Scott Ian made sure to keep himself in the spotlight, attaching himself to Dime’s legacy stating he was the sixth member of Anthrax. Ian even played Pantera songs with Phil at Revolver‘s Golden Gods Award show. Timing of Ian coming out against Anselmo, just happened to come in the midst of Ian and Anthrax‘s release of their new album “For All Kings”, as well of accusations that former Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz was for all purposes a hired gun, while Ian and drummer Charlie Benante would write the bands music. In a statement about what happened at Dimebash 2016, Ian issued a statement through his website, http://scott-ian.com/ that read as follows:
“Hate speech. Racism. Inflammatory rhetoric.
“All dangerous no matter what the context. I have ZERO TOLERANCE for any of this and to not speak out against them is as dangerous as the acts themselves.
“Philip‘s actions were vile and that should be the focus here, anything else is just noise.
“Philip has apologized and I would like to offer him the opportunity to really show how much he loves everyone by making a donation to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Bottom line is Scott Ian and his band still cover Pantera‘s “A New Level” in their live sets. He still drops Dime’s name any chance he gets. Instead of privately speaking to a “friend”, he chose to go public with his feelings. He choose to put the spotlight on himself as he has done so many times in the past. He has the right to do that, but it could have been done with more tact and taste. He offered Phil an opportunity!! You are a true gentleman Scott.
Band number 2, that Pantera and Phil have taken out on tour is Machine Head. Another band that charged to the forefront to show their support in the wake of Dimebag Darrell‘s death writing the song “Aesthetics of Hate” which condemned the writings of William Grim of the right wing discussion forum Iconoclast, where Grim said Dime “was a talentless possessor of a guitar and anyone mourning his death was a lower class of individual.” Frontman and guitarist Robb Flynn made it his point to let Grim know that the heavy metal community was so much more than what was assumed of them. For years Flynn and Machine Head had covered the classic Pantera song “Fucking Hostile”, as a tribute to Dime and a band that had done so much to help Machine Head and the legacy Pantera had left. Fast forward to Dimebash this year, and Flynn is right onstage playing songs by Pantera with Philip singing. I guess this was before the righteous light came to Robb and made him aware of the seriousness of the situation……. A WEEK AFTER THE FACT! As a fan of early Machine Head, there was always a feeling they were going to be the next band to break out. That never happened, and the rap/nu metal inspired “The Burning Red” was released. Apparently Phil voiced his displeasure for that album, so Flynn had to let everyone know the “true” Phil. This coming from a man who has taken a shot at numerous bands over the years,including Slayer, and Avenged Sevenfold ( who he was all ga ga over when they released “Waking The Fallen” and“Sounding The Seventh Trumpet”) , who had been much bigger than his own band. Seems as though the “old school” had left Flynn and Machine Head, and they were one of the bands the younger generation of “metal” fans had adopted as one of their own, The same new school that shits on anything with merit and validity, and goes insane for a detuned repetitive breakdown from beginning to end. So Robb Flynn played the only card he had to them, and the rest is history!
In the end, to blacklist and for the scene that Phil Anselmo helped revive, to turn their backs on him is ridiculous. Philip has taken many steps to better himself, especially for so many that were concerned for him early in the decade with all his struggles. In a fight where so many have lost everything they had, and many ultimately losing their lives, Anselmo has persevered. He was part of one of the biggest heavy metal bands of all time, and gave us brand new bands to enjoy. For that we are very lucky. In the past few years, so many legendary musicians have died and left their legacy through the music they have left behind. No one should appreciate a mans contribution in life after that man has passed on. We all still have Philip H. Anselmo in the flesh, still making and pushing the envelope in extreme music. Enjoy it, live in the moment , and hope that we have many many more years to enjoy the music that Phil gives to us all. Don’t hate a man of any walk, any creed, just because it is the hip or trendy thing to do. Be a man, be yourself, and make your own decisions. Phil, and the entire Housecore family, have gone out of their way to help us out with an interview, or cover a show, and to let us know that we are friends, but more importantly family to them as well. He has always been accommodating to all that ask anything of him be it a picture, an autograph, or a commercial spot for a friend. Do not let a bad five minutes, ruin what has been a genuine and honest relationship for almost 30 years. Philip has apologized and addressed some of these issues that have been a sore subject for many years. We all do dumb things in life, and it isn’t that we do dumb shit, it’s how we respond after the dumb shit has been done. Let us not cast judgement on a man for issues or agendas others may have against that man, let us judge the man for how he is toward us. I am proud to call Phil a brother, a friend, and know the type of man he truly is. It is always darkest before the dawn, and the light will creep through again. Philip H. Anselmo…..Stronger Than All
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