Moby: Why I ❤️ Pantera's The Great Southern Trendkill

(Image credit: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

I played in punk rock bands when I was younger. And part of that ethos was the rejection of music made by anyone with long hair. But at some point, we realised there was this whole genre of speed metal that sounded like what we were playing. Early Metallica, for example, sounded a lot like early Black Flag. So we had to reassess our prejudices against music made by people with long hair.

I was in band called Vatican Commandos, and our drummer Chip came in with Motorhead’s Ace Of Spades single. It was a case of: ‘Wow, this is really good! And they have long hair!’ So that opened the floodgates.

The first time I heard Pantera was their [1994] album Far Beyond Driven. I always feel weird lumping Pantera into the speed metal genre. They were so qualitatively different from anyone else. They occupied their own niche.

The Great Southern Trendkill is so unrelentingly dark. The lyrics of War Nerve are the most unrelentingly evil lyrics you can imagine. They make church-burning Norwegian Satanists sound like Sunday school teachers. It’s just that whole vituperative expression of anger and rage. 

Pantera even managed to be, dare I say it, kind of funky at times. One of the ways they were able to get such a huge guitar sound was because [Dimebag] Darrell double-tracked all his guitar parts.

I got to know Pantera a little too. I was in Dallas in 2002 and had a night off, so I can went to go see Tommy Lee perform. I’d known Tommy for a while, so we were just hanging out afterwards, when Darrell and Vinnie [Paul, drummer] came backstage with a bunch of Hell’s Angels. We all started drinking, then went to the strip club which Pantera owned and we had this long, crazy, whiskey-fuelled night.

At some point, about four in the morning, Darrell, Tommy and I – in our completely devastated state – decided to form a band. We just thought that was the best idea anyone had ever had. Of course, nothing came of that – except a hangover that lasted for days.

A part of Pantera’s trajectory was Phil Anselmo’s drug addiction. And I think The Great Southern Trendkill is the last record they made before he got clean. I remember seeing them a couple of times. The first time, Phil was like an angry junkie with a shaved head. And you can imagine the sort of people that come out to a Pantera show: some of the most violent, misanthropic people on the planet. 

I stood way back and watched the whole thing. That show was phenomenal and terrifying at the same time.

Moby was speaking with Rob Hughes. This feature was originally published in Classic Rock 118, in 2008.