The Pantera legacy that fans truly know and love begins with 1990’s Cowboys From Hell, but there were four albums released before the legendary metal act literally found its groove. Three out of those four were recorded before frontman Philip Anselmo joined the band, and bassist Rex Brown wants nothing to do with those early LPs.
The embarrassing photos of Pantera decked out as a big-haired glam-metal band (see above) are all over the internet, but Brown would prefer if the music from that era remained buried. Prior to Cowboys From Hell, Pantera were a local Texas sensation, self-releasing the albums Metal Magic (1983), Projects in the Jungle (1984), I Am the Night (1985), and Power Metal (1988). The first three featured singer Terry Glaze, while Power Metal welcomed Anselmo into the fold. However, even on Power Metal, Pantera hadn’t captured their signature groove-metal sound yet.
In a new interview, Brown was asked by EonMusic about the out-of-print albums, replying, “I will say this; a lot of bands didn’t have the opportunity at 17 years old to f**kin’ put a record out. We just happened to do it, and we paid for every f**kin’ lick of it; none of it was given to us. We paid for the studio time, we paid for the pressing of the record, and we never thought that that would go anywhere, nationally, globally, so it’s almost like, after the fact. But we really learned how to write a song, and be a band.”
The bassist continued, “The old singer? Shit, it was going nowhere, really quick. He just was not on the same wavelength as the three of us. The dude’s never had a job in his life. I see him shootin’ his mouth off in some of these magazines, and it’s like, ‘Dude, you were in the band for f**kin’ four years,’ you know what I’m saying? ‘Now you’re wanting claim to fame, 35 years later? Sorry, pal, you missed the boat!’ So I don’t want to give any credit where it’s f**kin’ undue, you know? Once we got Philip in the band, it developed into something else, and that was the Pantera that we know now, and that’s why we never talk about those old records.”
Brown didn’t mince his words about his dismissal of those old albums, adding, “They’ve been bootlegged a hundred thousand times, people consider it a part of our history. It’s not. Unless Philip’s singing on it, it’s not Pantera. That’s the way I look at it”.
As for ever reissuing the early LPs, Brown insisted it’s not what Pantera’s late brother duo of guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul would have wanted. He answered with an emphatic, “God no, god no! The brothers were against that, and I’m against it, and that’s just it. Period. It ain’t coming out.”
Most recently, a 20th anniversary deluxe edition of Pantera’s final album, Reinventing the Steel, was released. That 2000 effort capped off a classic five-album run of LPs that began with Cowboys From Hell and also included Vulgar Display of Power (1992), Far Beyond Driven (1994), and The Great Southern Trendkill (1996).
Dimebag Darrell was tragically slain onstage by a crazed gunman in 2004 while performing with his band Damageplan. His brother Vinnie Paul died in 2018 of an enlarged heart and severe coronary artery disease.
As for Pantera’s early releases, we’ll respect Brown and the late brothers’ wishes and not post any of it here. A simple search on Google or YouTube should help you track them down. In the meantime, pick up the recent 20th anniversary edition of Reinventing the Steel here.