The death of Vincent Paul Abbott, best known as the drummer and co-founder of American heavy metal band Pantera and later the drummer for Damageplan and supergroup HellYeah, has left a void in the world of metal as legions of metalheads mourn the passing away of the legend. Vincent, known as "Vinnie", was found dead at his home in Las Vegas on June 22. He was 54.
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Pantera was formed in 1981 in Arlington, Texas, by the Abbott brothers – Vinnie (drummer) and younger brother Dimebag Darrell (earlier known as Diamond Darrell), Terry Glaze (lead vocalist) and Tomy Bradford (bassist). Within a year, however, Rex Brown replaced Bradford.
Originally a glam metal and speed metal outfit, Pantera leaned towards a heavier direction following their first three albums. Soon Glaze was fired and Philip Anselmo recruited. The band then released "Power Metal" in 1988, which featured stylistically a heavier and more aggressive sound often closer to thrash and standard heavy metal.
Pantera was best known for the groove metal sound following the release of "Cowboys From Hell" in 1990. The group abandoned all traces of the original glam sound, showcasing a mid-tempo thrash style, heavier, aggressive and more complex riffs and solos by Dimebag, a dirtier bass by Rex, faster groove-oriented drumming by Vinnie and a harsher more abrasive vocal delivery by Anselmo. The album featured chart-topping singles such as "Cemetery Gates" and "Cowboys From Hell" and became so successful that many saw it as the "true debut" of Pantera.
The next album, "Vulgar Display of Power", released in 1992, featured what is probably the band's most famous song "Walk" as well as others such as "This Love" and "Hollow". In 1994, the band released "Far Beyond Driven" which is considered its fastest-selling album featuring a heavier, more aggressive sound. The album featured songs such as "5 Minutes Alone", "Broken", "Becoming" as well as a cover of Black Sabbath song "Planet Caravan".
In 1996, the band released "The Great Southern Trendkill" which is considered its overlooked album. The album is considered the band's most aggressive to date, featuring more downtuned guitars and a grittier production alongside more screaming vocals. Sonically, the album, while retaining its groove metal style, contained elements of thrash metal, death metal and southern metal. The album featured the band's longest song, "Floods", which contains what has often been called Dimebag's greatest solo and is also considered among the greatest of metal guitar solos. The other famous tracks included "Drag The Waters" and the two-part "Suicide Note".
Pantera's final album "Reinventing The Steel" was released in 2000. It can be considered the band's heaviest album featuring "Revolution Is My Name", "Goddamn Electric", "I'll Cast A Shadow". The album was dedicated to its fans that the band considered brothers and sisters. It tied with Iron Maiden's "Brave New World" for Album of the Year, while the single "Revolution Is My Name" won Song of the Year.
The Abbott Brothers broke up the band in 2003 following disputes with Anselmo and formed the Damageplan band the same year. Its debut and only album, "New Found Power", sold well but was met with mixed reviews by fans and critics.
Tragedy struck on December 8, 2004. Damageplan was performing in support of their album at a show at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus Ohio when, less than a minute into the first song of their set, a member of the audience, Nathan Gale, 25, went onstage and shot and killed Darrell. Gale also killed a fan Nathan Bray, 23, club employee Erin Halk, 29, and Pantera security official Jeff "Mayhem" Thompson, 40, and injured longtime Pantera and Damageplan drum technician John "Kat" Brooks and Damageplan tour manager Chris Paluska before being shot dead by Columbus police officer James Niggemeyer.
Following Dimebag's murder, Anselmo and Vinnie Paul were permanently estranged and any hope of a reunion was shattered. In 2006 after taking a hiatus, Vinnie Paul returned to music with the heavy metal supergroup HellYeah featuring former members of Mudvayne vocalist Chad Grey and guitarist Greg Tribett, guitarist Tom Maxwell from Nothingface and bassist Bob Zilla from Damageplan following the departure of original bassist Jerry Montano.
As of 2016 HellYeah had released over five albums. Vinnie Paul was noted for his southern influenced chops and groovy playing which became an integral part of Pantera and HellYeah. Vinnie used Tama drums during the "Cowboys from Hell" album and tour from 1990 until 1992. On "Vulgar Display of Power" and "Far Beyond Driven" albums and tours respectively, he used Remo drums. He was also known for using triggered samples mixed with real miked drum sounds during live shows.
Pantera is considered among the most important and influential bands in modern metal and the pioneer of what has been called the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal, inspiring several bands all the way from nu metal bands like Limp Bizkit, to alternative metal groups like Slipknot as well as leaving a permanent impact on modern metal. Alongside fellow American band Exhorder, Pantera are considered the progenitors of groove metal.
As of 2018 Pantera has sold more than 60 million records worldwide. Vinnie has been considered by many to be a "monster drummer" with his fills being very energetic and passion driven, his style has inspired countless drummers to this day making him an icon in the world of metal
By Anand Venkitachalam