Phil Anselmo Reveals ‘Dark’ Pantera Secret

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Phil Anselmo discussed being in a ‘dark place’ during a surprising Pantera album in a new Revolver interview.

Crazy, right? I skipped school that day to go get that record. I’d like to take a day and skip school, and I’d drive up to the record store and pick up a record, and then I could go sit on the beach and listen to that record all day and draw.

“Dude, see that? You come from the school of having to actually get in a vehicle, travel to this place, immerse yourself in the store, and look through all the cool shit, especially the heavy metal imports.

“And then the only money you have, a lot of times just by judging, ‘Is this record cooler looking than this record?’ I have no idea…

“That’s how I found Mercyful Fate. I bought their first EP – it was freaking expensive, god damn it!

“For me, for an EP, and I was just a weird shrimp of a kid, and I bought it just like that.”

Which Merciful Fate record?

The first one, [1982’s self-titled] EP. Some people call it ‘Nuns Have No Fun’ but it’s just ‘Mercyful Fate.’

“What a tripped-out record. ‘A Corpse Without Soul,’ ‘Doomed By the Living Dead,’ ‘Devil Eyes’ – what a record!”

When I got ‘Trendkill,’ it had ‘Suicide Note Pt. 1,’ ‘Floods’… there were some really great songs that felt like new territory for Pantera, for me, when I got it. Is there anything you remember about when you guys were writing and recording that record that stands out to you?

“Well, I knew that some material like that would be happening. I knew what was coming musically because I guess it was an expression, some of those more mellow songs.

“We felt that because there were good songs and they were devastating songs on their own without a mosh part, or a breakdown part, or even a heavy metal riff during verses and stuff like that.

“We thought it stood on its own. So we thought they were good songs.”

As a whole piece, it really works well. It’s like an album, it’s an incredible journey you go through.

“I was in a superbly dark fucking spot when we did that record. And what I remember about doing it was pretty ugly but I was surrounded by beautiful things.

“I was in New Orleans, I was at Trent Reznor’s studio, that place is fucking beautiful and awesome. And [producer] Terry Date was there and he would come flying down and work with me.

“It was the first record I did away from the band. I was injured, I was addicted to drugs…

“And sometimes when you’re in those dark places, they make for some goddamn good music, or interesting expressions of music, and art in general.

“I think I felt pretty confident that the songs were devastating enough, I could just leave it at that, I felt like they were devastating.

“So I did some different stuff musically and with the guitar tones and whatnot, cleaner tones, and shit like that.”

It’s kind of similar to what you’re talking about with En Minor. You’re like, ‘It’s not a heavy metal record but it’s a dark album.’

“That Pantera record is absolutely a fucking heavy metal record, every song!”

And it opens up so hard, it just comes in right out the gate.

“It needed to. It was like an announcement, that first [self-titled] song was – we have not left our heavy metal roots behind. We have not, and we will not abandon the cause. And that’s how we felt about it.”