The band was originally named Gemini, then Eternity, before finally settling on Pantera, and consisted of Vinnie Paul Abbott on drums, Darrell Abbott on lead guitar, and Terry Glaze on rhythm guitar. The lineup was completed with two more members, lead vocalist Donny Hart and bassist Tommy D. Bradford. In 1982, Hart left the band, and Glaze became the group’s lead vocalist. Later, Glaze stopped playing rhythm guitar, leaving Darrell as the sole guitarist, doing both lead and rhythm duties. Later that year, Bradford also departed and was replaced by Rex Brown (then known as Rex Rocker) on bass.
In 1985, Pantera released their third studio album, titled “I Am the Night.” As with Projects in the Jungle, this album saw Pantera’s sound becoming heavier (though still rooted in glam metal), and the heavy metal press took more notice of the band. Because of its poor distribution, I Am the Night turned out to be a costly album for many fans. Around 25,000 copies of the album were sold. Pantera’s second music video was produced for the track “Hot and Heavy.” By 1986, Glaze’s glam approach did not fit the band’s developing style, and he and the other members parted ways.
Style, influences and legacy
Pantera have been influential in the development of nu metal, metalcore, and several other movements. They have also been called one of the pioneers of the “New Wave” of American heavy metal. Popmatters has claimed that “Darrell Abbott’s influence on the entire genre of heavy metal is massive; after Cowboys From Hell and Vulgar Display of Power, every notable young American metal band since has, in some way or another, copied their guitar style from those records: Korn, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Hatebreed, Lamb of God, Shadows Fall… the list is endless.”
Antera has come under some criticism within the fringes of the heavy metal community in relation to the New Orleans band Exhorder. Although the music, lyrics, and song titles are entirely different works, some fans have accused Pantera of stealing the “style” of their groove metal sound from Exhorder. While Pantera’s style change on Cowboys from Hell was released just before Exhorder’s debut, Slaughter in the Vatican, Exhorder self-released two demos in the late 1980s (around the time that Pantera was still playing glam metal) that a number of fans believe to be the real birth of the musical style Pantera is often credited for inventing.
Despite originally decrying Pantera as a rip-off of their sound, the lead vocalist of Exhorder, Kyle Thomas, has stated that he does not care about any of the criticism and is sick of seeing Exhorder’s name tied to Pantera’s. He also stated that he and the members of Pantera were great friends who used to tour together, and that he mourns the loss of Dimebag Darrell.