The Official Demise Of A Musical Dynasty: In Memory Of Vinnie Paul

It was early this past Saturday morning, around 2am, when I got up to take a quick piss.  I looked on my phone for shits and giggles and saw that I friend of mine posted something, captioning “holy shit!” above it.  It was a the Billboard article announcing that former Pantera/Hell Yeah drummer Vinnie Paul was dead at 54.  I thought I was just tired; but after a few minutes I realized that this was in fact reality.  There were no facts at the times, all that mattered was that one of the greatest of all time was gone.

The facts, since then, have slowly started to become known.  We now know that he died in his sleep in his Las Vegas home (booze and strippers, duh!), and of a heart attack.  According to the Las Vegas police, there were no signs of foul play.  Then today came the news that, just like his late brother, he’ll be buried beside him and their mother…in a KISS coffin.  Of course it’ll take some time for the toxicology report to come out.  I don’t want this to focus too much on his well publicized lifestyle here.  But let’s face it: despite his machine like intensity on the drums, he never seemed to burn too many calories.  That’s most likely because he never slowed down the drinking.  I mean fuck me did this guy and his brother, the late Dimebag Darrell, know how to party or what??

As I said before, I’m not here to discuss what everyone else is bound to write about.  I’m going to talk about why this son of a bitch from Arlington, TX will forever have a spot as one of the greatest drummers of all time.

So what the fuck makes a musician one of the best?  That person is able to make himself recognizable in songwriting style, technique, skill and sound.  That guy has to be able to make himself stand out.  From non metal guys like Stewart Copeland and Phil Collins (yeah, Phil Collins was a drum god at one point!) to hard rock drummers such as John Bonham to Vinnie’s own idol, Alex Van Halen, each of the guys I mentioned had the ability to make themselves easily distinguishable because they possessed all the qualities I just mentioned.  Vinnie, along with his brother, clearly knew this early on.  And while it would take three independently recorded albums before they were signed to their first deal, the wait would be worth it, because they, along with Rex Brown and Phil Anselmo, created a new sub genre of Metal, making them the single most important Heavy Metal band of the nineties.  Pantera were to be the band that single handed SAVED Metal during the rise of the Grunge scene, and later Alternative music.

Starting with their fourth album, 1990’s Cowboys From Hell, Pantera burst out like a goddamn raging bull with tracks such as the title track, “Psycho Holiday”, “Heresy” and everyone’s excuse to mosh, “Domination”.  There are other classics on there that I could’ve named just now but I chose the ones I just mentioned because those tracks are filled with an extraordinarily seamless combination of interlocking with…groove??  Oh yeah, Vinnie never lost the groove no matter how mechanical or technical those tracks were.  He’d explain years later that, while he respected drummers with fast left hands (think blast beats), he was more concerned about making people move.

1992’s Vulgar Display Of Power saw Pantera develop a much edgier sound all around.  I mean they were already edgy, but starting here the band were starting to sound more like the soundtrack to a fist fight!  Between Phil’s rougher vocal delivery to Diamond Darrell…as he was unfortunately still calling himself at the time…downtuning his guitar and those drums.   Unlike most Thrash bands, Pantera were not JUST about precision and speed.  Vinnie Paul as a drummer was more than JUST an anchor.  He knew when to keep it tight and he also knew when to let loose and just go with the shuffle:

With tracks such as this one above, and “No Good (Attack The Radical)”, you started to hear Vinnie’s creativity.  There are syncopated rhythms in “No Good” that sounded so new.  They’d also be the basis for shitty nu metal bands later on but I’ll get to that soon.

1994’s Far Beyond Driven.  Without question it’s THE most important album in Pantera’s history.  Why?  Because it debut at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.  No Metal band before Pantera had EVER pulled that off before and now no one could EVER take that away from them.  It is also the HEAVIEST album to EVER debut at No. 1.  With the opening track, “Strength Beyond Strength”, your ass is kicked immediately.  It’s one big explosion and Vinnie’s much louder, much more POWERFUL drums are taking full charge.  Sounded like Vinnie had done some tinkering in the studio, both with his drum kit, as well as with the mixing board.   I mean goddamn – just listen to this fucking track!!!

I said earlier that to be the best you had to find your own sound among other things and Vinnie’s drums sounded so much deeper than on any other album up to this point.  Turns out he in fact was tuning his heads real low…like almost to the point of being loose.  And those bass drums!  They sound so triggered.  But as the story goes, while in the studio, Vinnie used wooden beaters in the studio and also taped quarters on his bass heads, right at the spot where the beaters would make contact.  The result was a clicky, yet stronger, clearer, more powerlful bass drum.  It’d also set the tone for the way many other, far more extreme Metal bands would record in the years to come.

If his brother, who was finally going by Dimebag at this point, was to be my generation’s Eddie Van Halen, then Vinnie was to be my generation’s Alex.  Both were brothers, both played together for so long that they could read each other’s minds with ease.  They both understood each other.  But on the downside, Alex, amazing as he was, was clearly destined to be overshadowed by his game changing brother.  Vinnie would be no different.  Dime’s playing and his SOUND were a MASSIVE game changer at this time, and rightfully so.  But every guitarist, bassist, or even singer are only as good as their drummer.  Eddie would’ve been just some asshole who taps had it not been for Alex.  Dime would’ve probably just been a guy with a scooped sound and a whammy bar had it not been for Vinnie.

Take for example “13 Steps To Nowhere” off 1996’s The Great Southern Trendkill.  This unmistakably is THE darkest, most intense album in Pantera’s entire discography – and my personal favorite!  It’s a headbanger for sure, very Sabbath inspired with just enough technicality to justify it as old school to the core.  It sounds like Vinnie here perfected the trigger sound on his bass drums, and found just the right EQ setting for his low tuned toms, as they cascade from high to low before Phil’s fucked up verses.  Right in the middle, the Sabbath moment takes over as the song breaks down beautifully, allowing Vinnie’s drums to breathe.  You hear every nuance, every reverberation, every BOOM.  It’s pure destruction.  It’s so sexy.

Then a problem arose in the music world.  In the four years between the release of ‘Trendkill and their final album, 2000’s Reinventing The Steel.  Starting with KoRn, actually going back to ’94, several “Nu” bands came along and tried to focus strictly on groove.  The guitarists all had a scooped sound, they all tuned down lower than even Dime thanks to the revival of seven string guitars; the drummers were playing nothing but snycopations, especially shit bands like Disturbed; and the singers all wore green shorts like Phil and were all just angry without a cause (well to be fair Jonathan Davis was apparently molested as a kid).  Unfortunately, Pantera were to get the blame for this, as most of these fuckers freely cited Vulgar as a major influence.

But the biggest problem with all those fuckfaces – and the biggest reason music SUCKED in the early 2000’s – was that they completely missed the point.  Pantera as a band, and as individual musicians, took close to a decade to perfect their sound.  Did any of them understand that Dime and Vinnie were insanely talented musicians since they were kids?  Did any of those retards know that Pantera started out in 1983 as a GLAM band??  Oh it’s true.  It took years for them to develop into a harder sounding band.  It also took the drive to always want every album to be better and better.  Thanks to their refusal to truly do their homework – and actually learn to play their instruments – these Nu/Rap Metal pieces of shit chose to just be followers…and ultimately forgettable.  Thankfully.

After the break up of Pantera in 2003, Vinnie and Dime went on to form Damageplan.  Their sole album, 2004’s New Found Power, was a major change in their sound.  The brothers wanted to try something new and while I surely wasn’t a fan of all the track on the record, I understood that this was an experiment and perhaps things would change.  I was however a fan of a the beyond sludgy “Moment Of Truth”.  It’s so slow, so heavy and it allowed Vinnie to sound like nothing short of a fucking jackhammer.

Unfortunately, as we all know, that second album would never happen, as Dime was gruesomely murdered before years end while on stage.

Vinnie stayed away from the public for a few years afterward.  His final band would be Hell Yeah.  I’ll be honestly.  I don’t mean to disrespect Vinnie, but he could’ve done so much better than joining a “supergroup” with the assholes from Nothing Face and Madvayne.  If he enjoyed himself, then hey good for him.  But I personally found Hell Yeah to be so beneath what he was capable of.

His unexpected death last Friday marked the end of en era, and a musical dynasty.  If you’re new to this blog you’re expecting me to say some shit like “he’s with Dime now”.  Not here.  I’m athiest.  I don’t believe that shit.  But with his death, gone are the one family that were as successful and ultimately as influential as they were playing this kind of music.  No one before the Abbott brothers could pull it off and no two brothers have repeated it just yet.  Vinnie Paul alone changed the game with his signature sound, and many drummers will say that they started playing because of Vinnie Paul.  In fact, while in the middle of writing this I stopped to write a new Spotify playlist, featuring my favorite Vinnie Paul moments in Pantera and even Damageplan.

To end this I’m going to leave you with the very first Pantera video I ever watched back in 1996 on an episode of Beavis and Butthead.

Rest In Peace Vincent Paul Abbott 1964 – 2018

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Extreme Metal Gym Playlist

Gym playlists.  Man, some people out there really seem to not have the balls to delve into nastier shit than they’re accustomed to in order to really raise those adrenaline levels.  I guess they don’t really want to train with fury after all.  Pussies.  This goes back to my first true post on here, titled: “…if I had my own gym”.  I bitched that the so-called metalheads in my gym cried like little girls upon hearing my heavy-as-fuck Spotify playlist, which contained several tracks by Pantera (the super heavy shit from the mid-90’s), Strapping Young Lad, Nevermore and Meshuggah.  The remarks came flying: “What is this crap?”  “Yeah I know I’m a Stripping Young Lad but this sucks!”, “Do you have any Metallica??”

Sure, there are gyms out there that understand that Disturbed is NOT the definition of music that makes you want to fight someone of even deadlift the house.  But they’re few and far between.  Also, I’ve come across plenty of playlists on Bodybuilding.com and, while some have come close, I came across a lot of shit.  When I think of real weightlifting music Bring Me The Horizon and Miss May I are clearly, badass bands to train to.  Right?  Right?  Excuse me while I puke out my flank steak dinner and my creatine powder.

So here are my ten picks, in no particular order, for heavy-as-fuck, balls to the wall, rage fueling, gym music.

  1. Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us, 2016ywnboou

I’m starting with this one because I need to get something off my chest real quick: I’m so fucking mad at these guys!  Just as this album is getting more critical acclaim and attention than any other album sounding remotely like this the band, without warning, goes on hiatus?!?!  What the fuck is this shit??  And why now???  Did Todd Jones decide he couldn’t handle the sudden popularity??  Did it go against his hardcore ethos??  Good thing I never went to This Is Hardcore in the beginning of the month because I would’ve been really pissed off!

Now that that’s out of the way…this is most likely my album of the year.  In just over twenty-one minutes, this album is literally all killer no filler…at all.  This is just straight up RAGE from start to finish.  The production is rough, the vocals are ridden with the type of slobbering anger that says Todd Jones wants to hurt you so bad.  This is true Meathead music.  It’s totally amped up my workouts since it came out two months ago and will most likely continue to do so.

Key Tracks: You Will Never Be One Of Us, Savage Intolerance, Parasite, They Come Crawling Back

2. Pantera – The Great Southern Trendkill, 1996 tgstk

Yeah…this one…not Cowboys, not Vulgar…this one.  Why?  Listen to the opening seconds of the title track alone.  That’s why.  The Great Southern Trendkill is literally the most violent and intense Pantera release in their entire recording career.  It just wreaks of every negative emotion you DIDN’T expect from Pantera.  I guess it kind of, sort of, also helps that Phil Anselmo was secretly doing heroin during this time.  That shit always brings down the mood!  Featuring the late Seth Putnam of Anal Cunt on backing screams on certain tracks.

Key Tracks: The Great Southern Trendkill, War Nerve, Suicide Note Pt.2, Sandblasted Skin

3. Strapping Young Lad – Alien, 2005

alien

Ever wanted to hear what a bipolar person sounds like when they stop taking their meds just to make their most intense album ever?  Here’s your chance!  But it ain’t pretty.  Which is why I love it!  Devin Townsend knew that Strapping’s 2003 comeback record was clearly stale, minus two tracks.  So what did he do?  He risked his mental health and let the crazies out to play on more time.  I cannot listen to this record when I am driving because there were many times when this record came out that I went into massive road rage, probably came close to INTENTIONALLY running over people and driving into a wall.

Key tracks: Skeksis, Shitstorm, Love?, We Ride

4. Nevermore – This Godless Endeavor, 2005

tge

Without question the heaviest album Nevermore ever did.  I don’t know if it was because of the permanent addition of Steve Smyth as a second guitarist, but whatever it was, it worked.  Usually known for a more diverse musical formula on previous albums, much of that is non-existent here.  Like…compared to the albums before it or after…This Godless Endeavor is musically pitch black.  I can totally see myself bench pressing to Jeff Loomis and Steve Smyth’s dueling leads on “Psalm Of Lydia”.

Key Tracks: Born, My Acid Words, Bittersweet Feast, Psalm Of Lydia

5 and 6.  Crowbar – Crowbar, 1993/Sonic Excess In It’s Purest Form, 2001

Crowbar

I decided I had to put in two albums here.  Crowbar are the ultimate go-to band for intense weight training.  It’s unforgivingly brutal, fast enough, slow enough, sludgy enough and add Kirk Windstein’s increasing raspy vocals on being down and out and all I want to do is eat lots of food and deadlift.

Speaking of food, on their Phil Anselmo-produced, self titled album is a song called “Existence Is Punishment”.  If you ever watched Beavis and Butthead in the 90’s you probably saw them making fun of that song’s video, leaving Beavis to basically say that the band makes you want to eat and get fat.  Oh..and that they’re always taking a dump.  Also featured here the most badass cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” that you’ll ever here.

Key Tracks: “High Rate Extinction”, “Existence is Punishment”, “All I Had (I Gave)”, “No Quarter” (Led Zeppelin)

seiipf

Probably the fattest, sludgiest and – believe it or not – most groundbreaking album or their career.  Featuring future Goatwhore guitarist Sammy Duet, Sonic Excess In It’s Purest Form truly lived up to it’s name.  But not just because it’s heavy, or you might as well consider every heavy album to be groundbreaking.  But because the songwriting here is so thought out.  Everything was perfectly arranged.  “The Lasting Dose”, the album’s most popular track – and the one where the moshpits always reach new heights – probably wouldn’t sound as amazing it does if it wasn’t well written.  This one always has me banging my head while training – I could give two shits if anyone’s looking at me.

Key Tracks: The Lasting Does, To Build A Mountain, Failure To Delay Gratification, Empty Room

7. Behemoth – The Satanist, 2014

behemoth-the-satanist-artwork

First off: Nergal is GOD.  I knew I loved Behemoth they day I heard their 2004 album, Demigod, in my college radio station, where I found myself playing it to death for a while.  It was the perfect mix of death metal with black metal themed lyrics, a new style the band were experimenting with.

But here, literally a decade later, the band is beginning to change.  Oh yeah, the brutality of their previous albums is still here, but the music itself feels fresh, much looser, much more off the cuff.  I remember hearing Nergal screaming with passion on the track “Messe Noire:: “I believe in SATAN!!!!”, me yelling to my car stereo with excitement “Oh yes you do!!!”.

Key Tracks: Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, Messe Noire, Amen, O Father, O Satan, O Sun

8. Meshuggah – obZen, 2008

obZen

This was band’s second album using eight string guitars, but after 2005’s weird, and heavily drum sampled Catch 33, the heaviest band to ever come out of Sweden were back with fury.  Back when everyone and their mother was still on Myspace, I heard “Bleed” on the band’s music player…and nearly fell off my chair.  The slow tempo, mixed with Tomas Haake’s double bass rolls, those bowel inducing, low tuned eight strings locked in just perfectly, Jens Kidman’s newly developed screaming…it was as if the band was reborn!  Meshuggah were already one of my top five gym bands but obZen is a modern day Extreme Metal masterpiece.

Key Tracks: Combustion, Electric Red, Bleed, Dancers To A Discordant System

9. Morbid Angel – Domination, 1995

domination

The one album that causes the most drama between fans.  You either love Domination or the thought of it makes your stomach turn, and that even goes for the members of the band.  Between the production style and the change in David Vincent’s lyrical themes and vocal approach, this is either the band’s most brutal album or the biggest pile of shit they ever recorded.  Me?  I fucking love it!  It’s virtually unrelenting, minus “Hatework”, which I could do without.  I personally think the clarity in production makes Trey and Erik’s guitars that much more brutal.

Key Tracks: Dominate, Where The Slime Lives, Eyes To See Ears To Hear, Dawn Of The Angry

10. Black Label Society – Live Alcohol Fueled Brutality + 5, 2001

bls live

Right off the bat, fuck the “plus 5” on the second disc, it doesn’t matter.  I almost didn’t use this album but first off, Zakk Wylde is GOD.  Second, this live album is endlessly loud, violent, and brutal.  This was recorded on that infamous 2ooo tour were Zakk’s famous “grail” Les Paul was stolen, not to be seen again for a good three years.  This is another album I’ll bang my head to and sing out loud in the gym regardless of who’s watching me.  Fuck them, they’re all listening to the shitty dance music playing through the speakers or some watered down “rock” through their earbuds.

Key Tracks: Low Down, Lost My Better Half, Bored To Tears, No More Tears (Ozzy Cover)

Practicing Riffs

So I just uploaded two videos of myself practicing some riffs including my own original riffs.  I plan on recording some music in the next few weeks if all goes right.  I’ve said in the past that I’m retired for band life.  I don’t miss it AT ALL but I imagine that if I ever did go into that again then I’d start a raw metal band, kind of crusty and VERY offensive.

 

 

The pickups on the Destroyer sound way better than I figured they would have.  I had a wiring issue when I first played it; turned out it the top pot needed to be replaced, which was great because I really didn’t want to replace the pickups if I didn’t have to.

Final Thoughts

Speaking of offensive…so how about Phil Anselmo’s remarks at Dimebash, eh?  I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and throw my two cents in because believe me when I tell you I’d come off as a hypocrite – and no, I’m not a white supremacist.  It’s funny that as soon as he said it was a joke made over white wine he was instantly called out because apparently he and Rita Haney were drinking alright – but not white wine.  In fact there was no white wine there at all.  But that’s not even the point because even though Phil gave a public apology as of this writing, chances are he’ll probably do it again.  The point is, for all those bands calling him out like what he did was so controversial, you obviously are all clueless to the fact that he’s done that shit before.  Hey here’s the proof for you’re viewing pleasure if you didn’t think it was bad enough that he said what he said during a show that was meant to honor his fallen bandmate  – skip to the 1:57 mark for the fun parts because White Power!  Right Phil??