(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
The story, and ultimately the life, of the legendary deity-like musician that is “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott is one known by all fans of heavy music. It is well known, deservedly so, because of the revolutionary skills he brought to heavy metal.
Unfortunately we lost Abbott to a heartbreaking, senseless act in 2004. Today, December 8, 2017, is the 13th anniversary of that tragedy, but the good news is that Darrell’s ferocious playing style, insurmountable creativity and beloved, gregarious persona is still impacting people to this very day.
Part of that impact was documented in the 2006 Dimevision Vol 1: That’s The Fun I Have film release. The visualizer was compiled from hours of filmed footage, captured between the mid 80s and his later years and provided fantastic insight into the man behind the myth. Thankfully, there was so much remaining footage that there’s future volumes of the Dimevision series planned.
That brings us to now; as Metal Blade Records recently released the highly anticipated second installment, Dimevision Vol 2: Roll With It Or Get Rolled Over, on November 24th. Yet, an added bonus is here accompanying all the mesmerizing clips and scenes of this secondary offering.
Included with the DVD are five previously unheard demos, picked from a vast catalog that Darrell accrued since the other love of his life, Rita Haney, gave him his first 4-track recorder in 1984. That recorder became the avenue by which Dimebag traveled from mind to musicality, using it to record on the spot and save ideas that came to him.
Another incredible aspect included on Vol. 2 is the discovery that Darrell wrote down lyrics and dates of most everything he recorded. These notes included his thoughts on the recording at the time, in “real time”, as it were. All of this is contained on a CD within this two-disc package.
I have been lucky enough to receive the five-song “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott solo Demo from Dimevision Vol.2 and am going to tell you a bit about it. Let me start with reiterating that these are not ‘lost’ Pantera tracks. Got it? These are solo musings, music ideas, works in progress from the singular musician and man, “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott.
Let me add that you don’t need to expect any super-polished, slick studio quality sound… it’s called a Demo for a reason, ya know? Second, don’t expect everything here to sound LIKE Pantera, at least not overall. To be honest, for me, most of this music is closer to the Rebel Meets Rebel project that paired Dime, as well as Rex Brown and Vinnie Paul with well-known outlaw country musician David Allan Coe.
If you are familiar with Rebel Meets Rebel, then you may immediately relate to that comparison from the first minute you hear the opening track “Twisted“. Quite country-fied in parts, twangy strings, revealing real-life lyrics… it is all here in the verses. But the choruses, now that is entirely metal, as only Dimebag could metal, with its monstrous, chuggy guitars and aggressive vocals.
The number stomps through your skull during those parts, a bit reminiscent of Dime’s signature guitar sounds around the Cowboys From Hell or Vulgar Display Of Power eras. The song alternates between those backwoods-y vibes, bolstered by Darrell’s own southern drawl-inflected vocals, and then moments of full-on metallic crunch. Then there’s the solo, one that I believe almost any Dimebag fan could recognize as him by hearing it, not being told.
The great southern groove spill comes like a deluge with “Ain’t No Struggle“, the laid back swagger of Dime matched with a bit of funkier nuances. He croons the title chorus with such conviction, you may picture that devilish grin so many of us have etched into our mind’s eye when we recall him. He does cut loose in some sections with some monstrously massive ruts of pure riffery, ones so thick and wide that the room seems to shrink a little when you hear them.
Demo track three, “True“, is by far the most unexpected musical turn of this recording. One clearly utilizing programmed parts or features that organs or keyboards have, as a polka type music plays. The song exudes a strong feel-good, church-y, spiritual hymn type quality along with some very positive, purposeful lyrics. Dime experiments with some differing vocal styles, as the number retains a mostly stripped down, minimalist air about it. That said, Dimebag does solo in the song as only he can.
“Let’s Go” is, at less than a minute in playing time length, the only real, overtly Pantera-ish minute on the demo. Its blistering assault of on-fire guitars begins immediately after what sounds like Dime saying “Turn it loud as fuck” and indeed it then “lets go”. Like a fast-burning lit fuse, the song zigs, zags and incinerates right along all W.F.O. with pummeling drums and balls-out, profanity-riddled vocals.
Things end with what strikes me as perhaps the closest to a complete number, “Whiskey Road“. Not in the sense of a finished product song really, just the feel of fullness despite the limiting of only four tracks to work with. The song emanates that unmistakable “Dimebag” aura throughout and is, of course, an ode to heavy boozing. Despite the contemplative, self-aware lyrics, the slide and steel / lap steel guitar and everything else unfurling within, the song seems to ripple with the essence of Darrell in both content and characteristics.
As I stated earlier, this five-song solo Demo from “Dimebag” Darrell is a powerful, poignant companion piece to the Dimevision Vol. 2. I can only imagine what feelings this Demo must invoke in viewers when watched in proximity to the film. That said, there will surely be some folks that will decry “that ain’t metal” and that usual clueless crap… to which I say “whatever”. Forget them.
This is for the TRUE fans of Dimebag’s, perhaps ones like me that were participants to that period of time when Pantera, and by default, Dime, ruled the metal world. Or maybe they are music fans that discovered him later on, after we and that same Dimebag-ruled world, suffered the loss of his unique, one-of-a-kind presence. Either way, I think you will like and appreciate this profound glimpse into his life and creativity while hearing what a multifaceted artist he was. One whose inspiration and influence continues to shape and mold musicians even now, as it surely forever shall!
Purchase Dimevision Vol 2: Roll With It Or Get Rolled Over now via Metal Blade at: metalblade.com/dimevision.
Check out the three Dimevision Vol. 2 DVD video trailer below, where you can hear snippets of the Demo’s songs.