If you were wondering if any of the negativity aimed at the controversial Pantera 'reunion' has landed at the door of Charlie Benante, it looks like we have our answer. Speaking to Consequence alongside Exodus guitarist Gary Holt - who stepped in to play for Slayer following the death of Jeff Hanneman - Benante reveals that he's never experienced as much hatred as he has since filling the shoes of Vinnie Paul behind the kit for Pantera's divisive comeback shows.
While Benante is a seemingly solid fit for the role itself, it seems that the shadow of Paul, who passed away in 2018, just looms too large for some, especially given that the drummer was vocally against a Pantera reunion before his death.
“I don’t go looking for things [online],” Benante explains. “There’s people who send me [negative comments], and I’m like, ‘Why did you send me this?’ Why ruin my day?’ And I think these people who [make] these comments, I don’t think they realize how much of an effect they can have on people. Whether or not you hate the situation …why can’t you find some sort of restraint? …I’ve never seen more of it in my life than I’ve seen in these past couple of months of people judging."
The current incarnation of Pantera features Benante on drums, Zakk Wylde filling in for Dimebag Darrell on guitar and 'classic' Pantera members Phil Anselmo (vocals) and Rex Brown (bass). The band insist that this version of Pantera is serving as a 'tribute' rather than a full reunion, despite still using Pantera's name and original logo for shows and on all advertising.
While the absence of brothers Paul and Darrell is a cause of much chagrin for some, the presence of Phil Anselmo understandably remains a major sticking point for others. His white power outburst in 2016 was the latest in a line of racist controversies, and an initial attempt to pass the incident off as a joke relating to white wine failed miserably. While Anselmo issued a seemingly earnest apology soon after, interviews since suggest a somewhat conflicting take on the matter, with the singer defiantly telling Rolling Stone in 2016: "For all the pious out there who like to point the finger at me and say, ‘Oh, racist,’ they don’t fucking know me."
Following backlash at the band's booking in relation to Anselmo's behaviour, multiple European festivals have cancelled planned Pantera appearances for this summer. In January, Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park Festivals stated: "In the last few weeks, we have had many intensive conversations with artists, our partners and you, the festival fans, we have continued to deal with the criticism together and decided to remove the band from the program."