Anthrax drummer, Charlie Benante has been confirmed as the drummer for the recently announced Pantera ‘reunion’, set to take place in 2023.
According to Billboard, sources close to the band have confirmed that Benante will join surviving members, Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown, alongside long-rumoured potential stand-in for late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, Zakk Wylde for a number of US and European festival headline slots, as well as the band’s own headline dates.
Benante is a long-time friend of Pantera, having forged a friendship with the pre-Phil Anselmo line-up of the band in the 80s, and has remained close to Anselmo ever since. In a 2018 interview with Eddie Trunk for his SiriusXM radio show, Benante recalled his first meeting with the band.
“The very first time, it was the first time we ever were in Texas. And those guys were there. We played at this club, and I believe Pantera were the opening band. A mutual friend of ours, who everybody knows now - Rita [Haney] - she kind of was the conduit to grouping us together to become friendly.
“We've known those guys since 1985, and just the two of them, Darrell and Vinnie, after you met those two, it was like you had a friend in Texas, both of them, and they just made the experience so much better, and you immediately bonded. So throughout the years, we just remained friends.”
He went on to describe how while Dimebag Darrell was the guitar hero, Vinnie Paul was the “glue that held that band together” when it came to the band’s sound on record. “Vinnie made those Pantera records sound like that. He was the guy behind it all who was turning the knobs, EQing shit so that his kick drum wasn't fighting with Darrell's fucking chunky guitar.”
Benante has since performed at the Dimebash, celebration of Dimebag and Vinnie Paul, taking to the stage in 2019 to perform a cover of Kiss’ Love Gun, as well as Pantera anthems, This Love and Walk alongside Rex Brown, Corey Taylor, Dave Grohl, Scott Ian, Chris Broderick and Nick Bowcott.
The same year, he sat in with Phil Anselmo's band, The Illegals multiple times for performances of Pantera songs, Fucking Hostile and Strength Beyond Strength.
More recently, Benante took to Instagram on 4 July to share a video of Dimebag joining Anthrax on stage in 1998 to play Only, as well as wishing Anselmo a happy birthday the week before.
News of the ‘reunion’ has been met with mixed responses, with some fans disagreeing with the idea of Pantera without the late Abbott brothers. Billboard’s story, however, claims that the reunion has been given a green light from the estates of both brothers.
Vinnie Paul Abbott passed away in 2018 following heart problems aged 54. In the years prior to his death, Vinnie had been playing in Hellyeah. Earlier this year, Vinnie’s former home in Arlington, Texas was put up for sale with an asking price of $750,000.