Pantera were in pretty rough shape by the time their Extreme Steel tour touched down at the Beast Feast in Yokohama, Japan on August 26th, 2001. They’d spent the past couple of months on the road with Slayer, Static-X, Skrape and Morbid Angel and were playing to huge crowds, but long-simmering internal tensions and addiction issues were starting boil over.
“The tour seemed to go on forever,” bassist Rex Brown wrote in his memoir, Official Truth, 101 Proof. “The financial offers were great, but because we felt like we were in a marriage that was going south, that just didn’t matter anymore. Something had to give sooner rather than later.”
Frontman Phil Anselmo had been suffering from degenerative disc disease for years, and he self-medicated with a steady diet of booze, painkillers and even heroin. “I suppose the writing was on the wall as early as pre-production for the tour,” Brown wrote. “Phil was out of his mind a lot of the time and there were moments in rehearsal where [guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott] and I would look at each other and say, ‘Dude, he’s singing a different song than we’re playing.'”
Anselmo mostly pulled it together for the shows, but he was barely on speaking terms with his bandmates by the time they reached Japan. Pantera played a fierce 11-song set at the festival and were joined by Slayer’s Kerry King on “Fucking Hostile” and Biohazard’s Evan Seinfeld for the grand finale of “Walk” off Vulgar Display of Power.” Here’s video of “5 Minutes Alone” from the final gig that Pantera ever played together.
They flew to Europe to continue the tour in mid-September, and were in Dublin when the planes hit the World Trade Center. The tour was canceled before they did a single European show and the band went on indefinite hiatus until a deranged fan killed Dimebag in 2004, ending the group forever.
Despite regular Internet rumors about a reformation with Zakk Wylde on guitar, a Pantera reunion seems unlikely. “It’d be great for us to sit in a room and figure out if we ever want to do that again,” Brown told MTV earlier this year “But I don’t really think there’ll ever be another Pantera without Dime in it. So, it’s a very complicated story. At the same time, it’d be nice to maybe play a couple shows and have a bunch of guest stars. But as far as reunion, there’s no reunion, man. Dime’s dead.”