METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich has weighed in on the fact that PANTERA's surviving members Philip Anselmo (vocals) and Rex Brown (bass) have united 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, are headlining a number of major festivals across South America, Asia, North America and Europe and staging some of their own headline concerts. They will also support METALLICA on a massive North American stadium tour in 2023 and 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.
Ulrich discussed his views on the PANTERA comeback in an interview with Revolver. He said: "I think that the idea that they're out celebrating the music and the magic of PANTERA is ... I know there's been a lot of talk in the community about whether people support that or not. But I'm the type of person, if Glenn Hughes wants to go out and play a DEEP PURPLE set, I'd support that.
"I'm always in favor of people following their musical and creative ambitions; so this PANTERA reunion, I think, is good," he added. "And obviously having Charlie up there is great. I saw a video from one of the Mexico shows that felt like they were in the pocket. It'll be fun to have them out."
Speaking about METALLICA's relationship with PANTERA, which dates back to before Anselmo had even joined the band, Ulrich said: "We met the brothers on the 'Ride The Lightning' tour and became friends with them. This was in Dallas in — what — 1622 or something? It was about 400 years ago. We obviously loved both of them, and they had a posse down there, and we would see them whenever we came through Texas. We watched the band evolve over the years from more rock vibes into that creative, unique force that they became. So, we've had a relationship with them for decades and decades."
After Dimebag was murdered in December 2004, Ulrich released a statement in which he said that he was "fortunate enough to meet both Darrell and his brother in Dallas on tour" in 1985. He went on to say: "The first thing me and my friend did as soon as that tour was over was to head straight back to Dallas and hang out with Darrell and Vinnie for a long time, 'cause they were the coolest mutherfuckers that we had met after criss-crossing the states for three months. That was the beginning of a friendship that was anchored in love, respect, fun, outrageousness, music, booze, sweat, late nights, early mornings, hangovers, headaches, pounding eardrums, sore bodies... the list goes on."
He added: "Darrell and his brother were the cornerstone of musical adventures that were always groundbreaking, pushing boundaries, challenging to themselves and to their fans, respected by their peers and always true musicians' musicians."
In December, PANTERA played seven shows in Mexico and South America. The band will next headline the 2023 "comeback" edition of Japan's Loud Park festival. The two-day "limited" event will take place on March 25 at Intex Osaka in Osaka and March 26 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba City near Tokyo.
Brown was forced to leave PANTERA's Latin American tour after testing positive for COVID-19. Filling in for him at some of the shows was CATTLE DECAPITATION bassist Derek Engemann, who also plays with Anselmo in both PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS and SCOUR.
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.