Pantera vs Exhorder - StillBy Michael F Coles - 2009
There are a few people out there, like yours truly, who know about this whole "Exhorder vs Pantera" ordeal that some of us are still talking about today, especially if one is from, or has lived in Texas or the New Orleans area.
One evening after a family gathering dinner event, my cousin Tony and I went to his room so I could scope out his musical library that was on his computer. As I was going through his files, I ran across Exhorder's debut "Slaughter in the Vatican." "Slaughter in the Vatican" was an album that was overlooked in the mainstream world of things I believe particularly due to the albums title and cheesy cartoon album cover of the Pope being hauled out to be hung. I feel if it wasn't for these 2 factors, Exhorder probably would have had more commercial success. On top of that, I feel that this debut album blew almost all Death Metal bands out of the water during that time when it came to heaviness and power of the material recorded.
As I sat there looking at Tony's musical library some more, I started thinking about my friend Tony (the irony) who I see at the gym every so often. Every now and then at the gym Tony and I will talk metal. Although he and I like different styles of metal, he does know who most of the bands I listen to are; with the exception of Exhorder.
One day he struck up a conversation about Pantera (he's a huge Pantera fan) and brought up how "great" Pantera was and what not. Being a Heavy Metal critic, editor, but more importantly, a Metal fan, one may not want to speak to me about Pantera due to the fact I am still one of those old school metal heads who still likes to talk about the whole Pantera vs Exhorder ordeal that most metal heads may not even know exist. Only those who really know the history between Exhorder and Pantera will still be involved in this almost 20 year old "silly argument." When I started talking to Tony about Pantera and the 3 albums prior to Phil, and the album where Phil didn't even sing like he did on "Cowboys from Hell" (Power Metal), I got the same response that I always get; "They have albums prior to Cowboys from Hell?"
Yes folks, they do!! And not only that, they used to be a glam/rock band!! It wasn't until Pantera's 5th album, yes 5th (Cowboys from Hell), that they started copying Exhorder's sound; in every way, shape, and form. Yes folks, they took off the hairspray, wiped off the make-up/lipstick, changed their glam attire, started playing Exhorder like riffs, all the while Phil mimicked screams identical to Kyle Thomas' vocals to the point one would think (if one didn't know who Exhorder was) that "Slaughter in the Vatican" was a "lost" Pantera album a fan may have overlooked. Heck, almost everyone else overlooked 4 previous Pantera albums, what's one more?
"Mike, how could you say such things?" One may ask in anger and disappointment. To prove my "complaint" even further (Pantera ripping off their sound from Exhorder), as I sat at my cousin's computer, I decided to put my thoughts at that moment to the test. I had him burn me a copy of the album so I could give it to Tony the next time I saw him at the gym. Months later after our discussion on Pantera that Tony and I had, I see Tony at the gym and I happen to have that burnt copy on me. "Walking tall" with my CD walk-man in hand, I walk up to my good friend Tony, with his fancy i Pod and all, and say: "Hey man, take a listen to this."
As he's jamming out to "Death in Vain", the first track on the album, so far he says he really likes what he hears. After a few more seconds, the vocals finally kick in. He immediately looked up at me with a huge surprised look and immediately asked: "Is this Pantera!? Is that Phil man!?"
I looked at him and said; "Thank you, you passed my test. No, this is Exhorder, the band I told you about that I told you Pantera got their sound from."
Tony and I started a new discussion, and from that point on, in my mind it was officially settled once and for all. After hearing a huge Pantera fan say this after so many years of me telling every Pantera fan I meet that they ripped off their sound from Exhorder, I just can't seem to understand why credit was never given where credit was due, you know?
That's all I'm saying here. I'm not trying to say Pantera sucks by any means, because they were definitely good at what they did. I just want people to be aware (still!) of this particular fact, that's all. Is that such a bad thing? And I'm not sure if it's a good thing or bad thing due to the lyrical content, but Exhorder now has a new fan; Tony loved them!!