Late last night, just before heading to bed, I saw the news that Pantera, Damageplan, and Hellyeah drummer Vinnie Paul had passed away. He was 54 years old. Pantera were one of the bands I listened to a lot when I first started getting into metal music, and it saddens me that another of their members has passed on.

Back in middle school, I was just starting to get into metal and my friend introduced me to this band called Pantera that his dad listened to. At that point it had been several years since they had broken up, and since guitarist Dimebag Darrell, Vinnie’s brother and bandmate, had been murdered, but even though the band was no longer around they were still influencing a new generation of metalheads such as myself.

Pantera had been around since the 80s, but it wasn’t until 1990's Cowboys from Hell that the Texas metal quartet began their rise to the top of the metal world. With 1992's Vulgar Display of Power, one of my all time favorite albums, and 1994's Far Beyond Driven, Pantera became the biggest metal band of the 90s, keeping it alive through the advent of grunge, and pioneering what would become known as groove metal. The Great Southern Trendkill and Reinventing the Steel followed in 1996 and 2000, respectfully, before the band broke up in 2003 due to rising tensions with frontman Phil Anselmo who was struggling with drug addiction.

The Abbott brothers went on to form a new band called Damageplan. They released their debut album New Found Power the following year in 2004. Unfortunately, that ended up being their only release as Dimebag was murdered by a deranged fan at a Damageplan show the same year. Dimebag’s death sent shockwaves through the metal world as his guitar playing was super influential, and he was one of the nicest guys in the metal community.

After his brother’s death, Vinnie Paul almost quit music entirely, but he eventually resurfaced, joining the supergroup Hellyeah, formed by members of Mudvayne and Nothingface in 2006. Hellyeah’s self-titled debut album dropped in 2007, shortly after I had started getting into metal. The self-titled album and their 2010 sophomore effort Stampede were rather cheesy southern redneck metal albums, but they were enjoyable. The band really found their footing with 2012's Band of Brothers and 20014's Blood for Blood. Their last album, 2016's Unden!able was pretty good too. They were in the middle of working on a new album at the time of Vinnie Paul’s death.

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Vinnie Paul was considered to be one of the nicest guys in metal by his fellow metal muscians and contemporaries and his death means a major loss for the community. While I never got the privelidge of seeing Pantera live, I got to see Vinnie Paul perform with Hellyeah in 2012 when they were supporting Lamb of God on tour. It was a damn good show, with Sylosis and In Flames also on the bill. It is very saddening to know that Vinnie Paul is no longer with us. May he rest in peace and continue to rock on alongside Dimebag in the halls of the metal gods.