Pantera’s split in 2003 was plagued with arguments and accusations that flew back and forth between the band members. Sadly for all, the band members never had the chance to reconcile all their differences before the shocking murder of Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott during a 2004 concert with the new band he’d formed with his brother Vinnie Paul, Damageplan. Rex Brown’s memoir, Official Truth, 101 Proof opens by recounting that tragic event, then goes on to relate his side of the Pantera story.

Pantera was one of the top metal acts of the ‘90s, but it’s interesting to read that Brown’s own musical tastes span a wide range. You’d expect to find Zeppelin and Sabbath on his playlist, but he grew up a true child of ‘70s Top 40 radio — Bread, America, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder — and even admits to mastering John Denver’s songs when he was learning guitar. Thus he wasn’t threatened by the grunge tidal wave of the early ‘90s that sounded the death knell for other metal acts; he was interested to learn what other musicians were doing (Pantera even worked with Soundgarden’s producer Terry Date). In fact, his interest in music inspired him to work all the harder at making Pantera distinctive.

Though Brown freely discusses the tensions that eventually engulfed Pantera’s career, as well as his own substantial partying and subsequent substance abuse issues, he still comes across as something of a private guy. He opens up, but only to a degree; the reader is still held at something of a distance (he doesn’t mention the names of his children, for example). Nonetheless, Pantera’s fans will enjoy this up close and personal look at the band, especially those interested in hearing how the band’s classic records came together.


Publisher: Da Capo Press (the hardcover edition can be ordered here)