As the news starts to make the rounds, we are all either going to bed, or waking up in my case to the news of Vinnie Paul’s passing. As with a lot of bands, the focus of Pantera was always on Vinnie’s brother Dime, and Phil Anselmo, or at least that’s what the press focused on. But Vinnie had a big hand in revolutionizing metal drumming, maybe he doesn’t get the name recognition for being a metal gymnast playing an insane number of beats per minute, but his sound, especially his bass/kick drum sound changed the landscape of the genre with almost every drummer choosing the “Vinnie Paul Sound” on a huge percentage of releases that have come out after Pantera’s landmark album Vulgar Display Of Power. And that is still true to this day. It is well documented that Vinnie was not only the business guy in the band, but he was always present in the studio, he helped craft, and dial in the exact sound of his kit on all of those legendary albums by the band.
Here is a statement posted on Facebook by Pantera:
Speaking of drumming gymnastics, I will always remember an interview I read with Vinnie around the time the first Damageplan album was released. In it, he discusses how a lot of metal drummers overplay, something I’ve always agreed with, in the sense that you don’t always have to come out of the gates playing double bass as fast as you can, adding as many fills as you can. In the article he talked about how he’s always done that selectively, in an effort to make songs better, and to make every time he does something like that special.
In an age where a lot of supposed metal fans took the attitude that “metal has died” or “90s music sucks”, Pantera continuously flew that metal flag, whether it was the popular thing to do or not, they were selling out arenas across the US, and stadiums around the world. I can still remember the first time I heard “Revolution Is My Name” back in 2000, on the alternative rock dominated WXRK, the big rock station from New York. They used to have an all request show every night, and I would listen to it to check out new music, and like I mentioned, the station was slanted towards Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sponge, Seven Mary Three, and bands of the sort that permeated their airwaves. The day the track was debuted, it instantly shot to the most requested song, and it stayed there for a few days before being “retired”. It honestly stuck out like a sore thumb given the station’s programming. I loved it! They were unapologetic, and never ashamed to be associated to metal, while other bands were out looking to be the darlings of NME, or other pioneers of the genre kept saying “we aren’t metal”.
Both he and his brother died way too young, I know that a lot of people are looking at this and saying “we’ll never get that Pantera reunion”, something he was always dead set against, and I have to tell you, seeing a lot of bands get back together to just rehash, or cheapen their legacy, makes me think he always made the right call. It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward with the unreleased works he and his brother left behind. There were always rumors of unfinished Damageplan and Rebel Meets Rebel songs, and perhaps some other Pantera material that may be he didn’t want to have released, or in the case of the band’s earlier work before Cowboys From Hell, re-released. I am also assuming, that something will be done for highly underrated Reinventing The Steel‘s 20th anniversary in two years.
The last Pantera single, one of my favorite tracks by the band, was “I’ll Cast A Shadow”, I don’t think there is any denying Vinnie Paul, and his brother Dime did just that. The shadow they cast over metal will be felt for a long, long time. Long live the memory of Vinnie Paul Abbott and his music.