Pantera Singer Looks Back for 'Cowboys From Hell' Reissue
Phil Anselmo is hoping that the upcoming 20th anniversary reissue of Pantera's landmark "Cowboys From Hell" will be the start of a trend for the metal group's catalog -- or at least yield a similar deluxe treatment for its follow-up, 1992's "Vulgar Display of Power."
"I most certainly hope so," Anselmo tells Billboard.com. "I guess we have to wait 'til 2012, but I've got my fingers crossed. I think if you ask your average Pantera fan what their favorite Pantera record would be, and nine times out of 10 it's 'Vulgar,' so it would certainly make sense."
"Cowboys From Hell," however, is coming Sept. 14 in a three-disc deluxe edition that includes one unreleased song, "The Will to Survive." The set also features a disc of demos and another disc of live recordings from a radio broadcast and from the 1994 "aLIVE and hostile" EP recorded at the 1991 Monsters in Moscow festival.
Anselmo says that dipping back into the album -- Pantera's major label debut and its fifth release overall -- has been has been something of a revelation. "It had definitely been a long while since I sat down and listened to 'Cowboys From Hell' from front to back," the singer notes. "Basically it was trickier where I thought things might be simplified. We would build these massive intros into songs, and the solo sections, the way they were written was just very, very, very clever. And I can see very clearly how we upped the production. It's been quite an experience."
The platinum-certified "Cowboys From Hell" also marked Pantera's transition from the glam-flavored sound of its predecessors to a more hard-hitting approach with producer Terry Date that became even further codified on "Vulgar Display of Power." Anselmo, however, says the switch "wasn't as drastic as it's made out to be. It was very natural, to tell you the truth. Collectively we were like, 'Yes, we want to go in a more extreme, more aggressive musical direction,' and things were just coming naturally."
Anselmo says it was just as natural for he and surviving Pantera members Vinnie Paul and Rex Brown, along with the estate of the late guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, to work together on the "Cowboys From Hell" reissue. But he doesn't think that will lead to any new original music from the former bandmates.
"I would not want to tarnish the Pantera name," Anselmo says. "Vinnie himself said a long time ago that if you take any one of us out of the equation and it's just not Pantera anymore, so I guess I'm just gonna stick to that. And as far as Vinnie and I go, there's a big bridge that both of us would have to cross, and that's an entire subject on its own, before we could even consider making music together."
Anselmo, meanwhile, is busy with several other musical endeavors, but most particularly Arson Anthem, the hardcore punk band that also includes Hank Williams III, Eyehategod's Mike Williams and Collin Yeo. The group's debut full-length, "Insecurity Notoriety," is due out Oct. 12, a year and a half after its self-titled EP.
"It's 30 minutes, 17 songs, and I love it," says Anselmo, whose other bands, Down and Superjoint Ritual, are currently on down time. "It's coming from that school of growing up in the 80s as a kid...Not that I don't listen to Black Flag or Agnostic Front anymore. Of course I do. But I think we're different. I think there's a freshness within the integrity of what an 80s hardcore band would sound like, and that's what sets us apart." Anselmo is hoping to line up some live dates for Arson Anthem but says that depends on Hank III's schedule.