COAL CHAMBER's DEZ FAFARA: 'PANTERA Is The Best Heavy Metal Band On Earth'

January 21, 2024

In a new interview with Sense Music Media, COAL CHAMBER and DEVILDRIVER frontman Dez Fafara was asked if he would be "open to playing shows with the new iteration of PANTERA," referencing the latter band's current lineup, which consists of surviving members Philip Anselmo (vocals) and Rex Brown (bass) alongside Zakk Wylde (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE) on guitar and Charlie Benante (ANTHRAX) on drums. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Oh, I talk to Philip all the time. He's writing the foreword to my autobiography right now. I love that band and I love what they're doing for the brothers, and for people who never got to see it, they get to see it now.

"I mean, for me, people will say METALLICA, but PANTERA is the best heavy metal band on earth. End of story. And I know he's [Philip] got a sordid past and he said some things and this and that, and don't get me caught up in any of that," Dez continued, apparently alluding to the incident eight years ago when Anselmo made a Nazi-style salute when he performed at the January 2016 "Dimebash" event at the Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood in honor of late PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. "I follow the music and that's what I follow. And then again, I toured the world with him for fucking three and a half, four years and multiple times, and I lived at Anselmo's house for years. Whenever I didn't have a home and I came home, I didn't have a home, I either went to a hotel in L.A. or went to his house. So that being said, I'm glad that they're out and people should go check it out."

Fafara added: "I took my wife — our first date was PANTERA and BLACK SABBATH at the Forum [in Los Angeles], my wife and I. She disappeared with fucking Sharon Osbourne [who managed COAL CHAMBER for a period] for like three hours. And then she comes back, and Sharon told me, 'She's the one,' and I was, like, 'Of course, I know she's the one, but you took her for three hours. So where the fuck did you guys go?'"

"So, yeah, if [PANTERA] comes to [play near] you, you should definitely go see that."

Anselmo and Brown, along with Wylde and Benante, are headlining a number of major festivals across North America, South America and Europe and staging some of their own headline concerts. They are also supporting METALLICA on a massive stadium tour in 2024.

According to Billboard, the lineup has been given a green light by the estates of the band's founders, drummer Vincent "Vinnie Paul" Abbott and guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, as well as Brown, who in 2021 said Wylde wouldn't tour with PANTERA if a reunion were to happen. It's unclear what changed his mind.

Up until his passing, Vinnie remained on non-speaking terms with Anselmo, whom the drummer indirectly blamed for Dimebag's death.

Vinnie Paul and Dimebag co-founded PANTERA. When PANTERA broke up in 2003, they formed DAMAGEPLAN. On December 8, 2004, while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag was shot and killed onstage by a troubled schizophrenic who believed that the members of PANTERA were stealing his thoughts.

Vinnie passed away on June 22, 2018 at his other home in Las Vegas at the age of 54. He died of dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, as well as severe coronary artery disease. His death was the result of chronic weakening of the heart muscle — basically meaning his heart couldn't pump blood as well as a healthy heart.

A few days after Vinnie Paul's death, Dez told Inquisitr: "It's the fucking worst, you know? I don't like burying friends, I don't like burying legends and I don't like burying guys that gave me my start in the business. It's the worst. I feel for his family and for his girl right now, and for the whole heavy metal community. That guy had a light and a fucking smile that nobody else had. He never had a backstabbing moment in his fucking life. He helped everybody around him."

He continued: "So it's the fucking worst, man, but it's a physical passing. He left music. He left a lot of memories and so he'll live on, and that's what it's about in life: making a scar, so when your physical presence leaves, you leave some kind of fucking memory, y'know? Maybe you helped a local high school, maybe you built a bridge, maybe you wrote music, maybe ran a good fucking good company, maybe you helped something out."

Dez added: "We have to remember the person that he was, the smile that he had, the things that he left. I was very fortunate to tour around the world with PANTERA for years. Vinnie was the one who always spun. I mean, me and Philip were very close; I lived in Philip's house. We still are very close friends."

DEVILDRIVER was reportedly dubbed "the next PANTERA" by Anselmo, who had been friends with Fafara since the mid-'90s. When asked about Anselmo's stamp of approval in a 2007 interview with "Rebel Access" TV, Dez replied, "Phil is by far the best frontman out there, and everyone knows we've been friends for a long time. We first heard that comment when we were at a press conference in Europe. That comment kinda humbles you, and you don't know what to really say to that. There will never be another [PANTERA] — no one is trying to do that, we can never hold a candle to that band. All the things you have to say just to humble yourself for a comment like that makes you say, 'Thanks bro.' After all that, you just say, 'Thanks, man, I'll do a shot of whiskey for you saying that.' Every single member of that band is an ultimate player and we can't hold a candle to that, so we say thank you and leave it at that."

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