A decade after they were torn asunder, super metal group, Pantera, has more than seven million Facebook fans. Numbers like would be a major feat for an active group, never mind an essentially dead one. And make no mistake, though three of the original four bandmembers are still alive, Pantera is no more, nor will it be. That much is clear from Official Truth: 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera (DaCapo).
Of course, the pivotal moment in Pantera’s story comes near the end. It’s a part that was documented in Zac Crain’s very compelling Black Tooth Grin: The High Life, Good Times, and Tragic End of “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott.
Abbott was the founder of Pantera, an act that seemed as turbulent and fraught as the decade that gave the band its biggest success. Pantera was metal in the age of grunge and they were unapologetic.
What helps give Official Truth its authentic ring is the voice of co-author Rex Brown, the bass player who joined the band in 1982, just a year after the mercurial Abbot brothers put the outfit together. The fact that the voice grates at times is apparent almost from the very beginning. And though he’s earned -- he can walk that walk -- Rex Brown’s rock god arrogance can be a little hard to take.
Though it doesn’t sound like life in Pantera was ever much of a party (other than the very nastiest kind),
in 2004, Darrel Abbot was killed by a deranged fan while he was onstage, putting a dramatic finale on a story that seemed headed for tragedy almost since the very beginning.
Official Truth is a proper rock biography, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Some readers will find it a little too gritty and a little too real and, certainly, the F-bomb gets thrown around sometimes more than one would ever have thought possible. But it’s a portrait, of sorts. And if you ever thought the world of a rock god was sexy and golden, read Official Truth and think again. ◊
Lincoln Cho is a freelance writer and editor. He lives in the Chicago area where he works in the high tech industry. He is currently working on a his first novel, a science fiction thriller set in the world of telecommunications.