On September 10th, Backbeat Books released Reinventing Metal:The True Story of Pantera and the Tragically Short Life of Dimebag Darrell by Neil Daniels. There is no doubt that Daniels is a music fan, as he has written several books, covering such artists as Judas Priest, Robert Plant, and Iron Maiden. His bio on his website even refers to him as “Neil Daniels: Writer of Rock and Metal.”
There is nothing wrong with a good unauthorized biography from time to time. However, the author’s own words in the introduction of the book might make one a little wary to continue on with reading. He says: “Such is the level of scrutiny around Pantera that once word began to spread about my attempts to interview those associated with the band’s past or present, a number of potential interviewees dropped out, not wanting to sever ties with or potentially upset the band….. Rex Brown and Phil Anselmo have since announced their own autobiographies, but this book tells the band’s story from all sides.” Since those that dropped out were worried about potentially upsetting the band, it would seem like perhaps those that chose to be interviewed were not worried about their ties to the band members, thus making their testimonies a little less trustworthy.
However, Daniels was able to gain interviews with former singers Donny Hart and Terry Glaze. As Phil Anselmo has been known as the frontman of Pantera as long as most of us can remember, it is interesting to hear stories from the men who were in the band during the making of those “forgotten” glam metal albums. The author also speaks to some childhood friends of the Abbott brothers and former roadies. Any quotes from actual band members are simply from other magazines or websites, which are properly cited at the back of the book.
The author tends to repeat his points often, such as stating several times in one chapter that Darrell was influenced by KISS and Eddie Van Halen. Also, when giving the details of each album, his writing sometimes turns into music criticism, which seems somewhat inconsistent with a biography. For instance, when speaking of the Reinventing the Steel album, he says “It’s a shame that Phil doesn’t sing more on the album-rather than just growling-but on the whole, these are some of the finest songs the band ever recorded.”
There are some tidbits that Pantera fans might find interesting, such as set lists from certain concert runs, and a complete discography, including early albums that the band no longer lists even on their own website, as well as a selective discography of albums released by bands associated with Pantera such as Damageplan, Down,and Superjoint Ritual.
The majority of information on the later years of the bands is primarily gleaned from interviews that fans could find themselves on the internet or at the end of a Wikipedia article on the band.
The very last words of the book will also leave the true Pantera fan scratching their head: “One night, during an Ozzfest performance, a source who has asked not to be named remembers watching Pantera play Respect. Standing at the side of the stage was Ozzy Osbourne, singing along to the song with a smile on his face like the biggest Pantera fan in the world. It was a perfect, beautiful moment. Pantera had made an incredible, indelible mark, and continue to be revered as one of the greatest metal bands of all time. They reinvented metal. Period.”
Respect? Scrolling through the Pantera discography, you won’t be finding a song with that name. Most likely, he is referring to the song Walk, in which the word respect is repeated several times. It is unfortunate that the last paragraph of the book includes incorrect information.
While there are some interesting facts and information from some that knew the boys way back when, unfortunately this book will probably not be one to grace the bookshelves of many true Pantera fans, who most likely are flipping through the pages of Rex Brown’s book or waiting for Phil Anselmo’s upcoming autobiography.
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