FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH guitarist Zoltan Bathory has weighed in on the news that PANTERA's surviving members Philip Anselmo (vocals) and Rex Brown (bass) will unite with guitarist Zakk Wylde (OZZY OSBOURNE, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY) and drummer Charlie Benante (ANTHRAX) for a world tour under the PANTERA banner.
Anselmo and Brown, along with Wylde and Benante, will headline a number of major festivals across North America and Europe and stage some of their own headline concerts.
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 last year said Wylde wouldn't tour with PANTERA if a reunion were to happen. It's unclear what changed his mind.
Bathory discussed his views on the PANTERA comeback in a new interview with Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station. Asked what he thinks about Anselmo and Brown touring again under the PANTERA name, Zoltan said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, here's the thing: it's gonna be a PANTERA cover band, really, if you think about it — even though there are previous members [of PANTERA involved]. The fans would want to hear that; otherwise it wouldn't be happening.
"PANTERA had a massive influence on me," he continued. "And I would go and see this. Obviously, it kind of splits the crowd, because [some] people are, like, 'Well, this is sacrilege because the brothers are no longer here.' And at the same time, well, people wanna hear it.
"Look at it this way: this is an homage. This is paying respect to that music. This is paying respect to the band that was very influential for many, many people. If you approach if from that perspective, then, yeah, these are the right guys. Who else would play the guitar, for example?
"So, I don't know. I don't have an opinion, really," Bathory added.
"I always, with these kind of things, I go, okay, do the people, do the fans want to hear this? And that will be the answer. If the fans of PANTERA say, 'Well, this is sacrilege, so we're not gonna go and see it,' well, then there is your answer. If the fans of PANTERA say, 'Hey, we absolutely wanna see it because we love this band. And this is the only way, this is the only remnants of the band, this is the only way that we can one more time experience that,' then that's your answer.
"This is the thing about the music industry, man — the fans decide everything," Zoltan said. "So it's always up to the people. So pick any artist and anybody can hate any artists who are extremely successful. You can throw crap. Pick anyone — Justin Bieber. The kid is really talented, first and foremost, and people love him.
"So who are you, who anyone is, to prevent that from happening? If the people want this, the people love an artist, who is anyone to prevent that or criticize it or go, like, 'Well, this shouldn't happen.' It's as ridiculous if you say, like, 'Hey, I don't like tomatoes, so I think all tomato farmers need to go out of business.' What? It's that ridiculous."
Last month, Benante told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" about how he plans to approach the PANTERA gig: "I can't go do this as the drummer from ANTHRAX because it would be a different sound completely. So the way I'm gonna do that is if you close your eyes, it's gonna sound like it's Vinnie, basically. And that's how it's gonna be. The sound is gonna sound exactly like him."
Wylde said that he had a similar mindset. "You approach it the same way as you do when I'm playing with Ozzy," he said. "Obviously I've gotta learn [Randy] Rhoads's stuff and I've gotta learn Jake's [E. Lee] stuff, and when I was doing the [BLACK] SABBATH stuff, you learn it and do it as faithful as you can. Charlie's gotta learn all of Vinnie's parts. You approach it as if you're in a cover band. When we do the ZAKK SABBATH stuff," referring to his BLACK SABBATH cover band, "I don't start changing lyrics midway through 'War Pigs'. You learn the songs — so that's what you do."
Talk about a possible PANTERA "reunion" intensified when Anselmo regularly joined Wylde's BLACK LABEL SOCIETY to perform PANTERA's song "I'm Broken" during DOWN's 2014 stint on the "Revolver Golden Gods Tour". That buzz only got stronger after Brown joined the jam on May 23, 2014 when the tour swung through Texas.
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.