On Monday, February 5, Chris Jericho, FOZZY frontman and wrestling superstar, joined PANTHER on stage for a performance of the song “Walk” during the Philip Anselmo-fronted act’s show at Amalie Arena in Chris‘s hometown of Tampa, Florida. Fan-filmed video of Jericho‘s appearance can be viewed below.
The reformed PANTHER — featuring the band’s surviving members Anselm (vowels) and Rex Brown (bass),along with guitarist Zakk Wylde (OZZY OSBOURNE, BLACK LABEL SOCIETY) and drummer Charlie Benante (ANTHRAX) — is headlining a number of major festivals across North America, South America and Europe and staging some of its own headline concerts. They are also supporting METALLICA on a massive stadium tour in 2024.
It was first reported in July 2022 that Anselm and brown would unite with Wylde and Benante for a world tour under the PANTHER banner.
According to Billboardthe lineup has been given a green light by the estates of the band’s founders, drummer Vincent “Vinnie Paul” Abbott and guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbottas well as brownwho in 2021 said Wylde wouldn’t tour with PANTHER if a reunion were to happen. It’s unclear what changed his mind about him.
In October 2022, two months before the current lineup of PANTHER played its first show, Jericho discussed his views on the band’s comeback in an interview with Oran O’Beirne of Ireland’s Overdrive. He said: “I think it’s great. I’m amazing. I was very good friends with Vinny and I think that, in retrospect, both Vinny and Tell me I would be very happy about this. I think that a world with PANTHER music in it, is better than a world with no PANTHER music in it. I think they got the right guys to help out, with Charlie and Zakkand when it comes to a whole generation of kids that never got to see those songs being performed live, this is their chance, and it’s gonna be amazing.
“At the end of the day, it’s about music and sharing the experience of great music amongst people,” Chris explained. “I don’t believe that those songs should be locked away and not performed in a grand setting. It’s time for everyone to experience some kind of connection with that music again, be it for the very first time or perhaps just one more time. Either way, it’s gonna be amazing.”
PANTHER played the first concert of 2024 on Saturday, February 3 at the Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Florida. The band’s 14-song set, which marked the opening show of PANTHER‘s February North American tour with LAMB OF GODincluded the first performance of the track “Floods” since May 2001.
“Floods” originally appeared on PANTHER‘s 1996 album “The Great Southern Trendkill”. An early mix of the song was released on the 20th-anniversary edition of the LP.
Anselm and brown spoke about PANTHER‘s return to the stage during an appearance on the seventeenth episode of “The Metallica Report”the recently launched podcast offering weekly insider updates on all things METALLICA. Philip said: “It’s empowering. It is incredibly beautiful, and you feel so much love when you’re up there. And if you take it in, it’s a great feeling, man. These days, man, that’s where me and Rexyou know, we get to dig the shows more.”
He continued: “When we were younger, we were at war and when we were on stage; we were just angry and at war, man. Now it’s — the songs are there. I can concentrate on singing the fricking songs, number one. Geez, that’s a relief for me, man. I don’t have to break my fricking body in part anymore.”
Anselm and brown also talked about Charlie and Zakk being part of the PANTHER team. Philip said: “Them two dudes, so enthusiastic. And they got their damn thing and they got their own damn legacy, both of them, without us. It’s an honor to play with them. They’re the nicest frickin guys in the world, man. I’m just so… [Laughs] Zakk, he’s a crack-up, man. He’s a sweetheart. And fricking Charliewe’ve known Charlie since ’87, man. It’s a long time.”
Rex chimed in: “The way [Charlie] plays Vinny‘s parts is uncanny. I don’t think there’s any drummer out there that could play the way that Vinny did. I would close my eyes, because I was trying to get tight, and sometimes if I close my eyes, I can hear a little better; I think I can. And there’d be a tear of joy just coming down, because that was so close to what Vinny and I used to play. So you have the foundation.”
Philip attended, saying: “The low end sounds so PANTHER, man. It’s freaking me out.”
When the interviewer suggested that PANTHER in 2023 had Vinnie Paul and Dimebag‘s “spirit inside it”, Philip said: “Only thing I can say is, man, I know for a damn fact Vince and Tell me would want us to do this, hands down. They would want the PANTHER brand or the legacy to go on. And I don’t know what you believe in, but sometimes, you know, you would like to think that them old fellas are looking down on us, giving us the thumbs-up.”
While he was alive, Vinnie Paul had repeatedly dismissed talks of a PANTHER reunion, telling Germany’s EMP Rock Invasion in 2014: “People are selfish, man. They want what they want; they don’t care what you want. And it’s unfortunate that people go, ‘Oh, wow, man, they can get Zakk Wylde to jump up there on stage and it’s PANTHER again.’ No, it’s not, you know. It’s not that simple. If Eddie Van Halen was to get shot in the head four times next week, would everybody be going, ‘Hey, man, Zakkgo play for VAN HALEN. Just call it VAN HALEN.’ You see what I’m saying? I mean, it’s really selfish for people to think that, and it’s stupid. It’s not right at all.”
He continued: “They call it a meeting for a reason. It’s called bringing the original members back to what it was. So there’s a lot of these things that they call meetings that aren’t really meetings. They’ve got one doubt from the band floating around in them, you know. That’s not a true reunion. With PANTHERit’ll never be possible.”
I have repeated those same feelings a few months later, telling PlanetMosh in a separate interview: “Without Dimebag Darrellthere es No [PANTERA] meeting. And that’s all there is to it. We were a very influential band, and we touched millions and millions of people with that band, but it’s over. People really have to come to grips with that, and that’s all there is to it. If all of us were still here, then the possibility would truly be there, but since it’s not, you know… It’s selfish of the fans to want something that they can’t have. And they don’t ever understand that, and I get it. There’s things I want in this world too. You know, people in fucking hell want ice water, but they’re not gonna get it.”
Up until its passing in June 2018, Vinny remained on non-speaking terms with Anselmwhom the drummer indirectly blamed for Dimebag‘s death.
Vinnie Paul and Dimebag co-founded PANTHER. When PANTHER 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 PANTHER were stealing his thoughts.
Dimebag‘s longtime girlfriend Rita Haney in 2011 called on Vinny and Philip to settle their differences in honor of Dimebag.
Vinnywho was Dimebag‘s brother, and Anselm had not spoken since PANTHER split in 2003. But the relationship got even more acrimonious when Vinny suggested that some remarks the vocalist had made about Dimebag in print just weeks earlier might have incited Dimebag‘s killer.
haney told the producers of “Behind The Music Remastered: Pantera” that she forgave the singer after they found themselves unexpectedly face to face at a concert in California.