For committed metalheads, Pantera should require little introduction. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s Bassist Rex Brown, vocalist Phil Anselmo, guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, and drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott proudly waved the flag for heavy, intense and unrelenting music while others abandoned the genre in favour of more commercial trends. Although he has always kept a lower profile than his former bandmates, Rex Brown’s musical talent and street smarts made him an integral part of Pantera and their legacy. With the help of established ghostwriter Mark Eglinton, Rex has now made an exciting contribution to metal literature as well.
Official Truth, 101 Proof is an interesting and very readable history of one of heavy metal’s most important bands. Although Rex writes briefly about his childhood and his post-Pantera projects, this is not really an autobiography. It is more of a memoir, and the focus is on metal’s esteemed Cowboys From Hell. One reason that this book will be gratifying for Pantera fans is that it reaffirms what we have always believed, and admired, about the personalities behind the band: Dime loved to party; Phil is tough and can kick everyone’s ass; all members took great effort to spend time with fans; and they were always determined to stay true to their style regardless of changing trends in the music industry.
The text also highlights the tensions typically experienced by band members, such as having to contend with different lifestyle choices and the inevitable frustration felt when having to be on the road with each other all of the time. Fans will be familiar with the details surrounding Pantera’s demise: unwelcomed side projects, the media war between Phil and the Abbott brothers, and of course, Dime’s tragic death. Rex’s account of these events will still be of interest to fans because this is the first time (and possibly only time, since Anselmo’s autobiography is no longer in the works) that the story has been told first hand in book form.
The only thing that is slightly off-putting about this book: Rex is sometimes very critical of his former bandmates, while portraying himself as nearly flawless. There are many harsh comments made about Vinnie Paul in particular, although none of the others, not even Dimebag, are left unscathed. Some readers will likely be irritated by this, while others will admire Rex’s decision not to sugar-coat his opinions. We were promised the ‘truth’ after all, and we get it, or at least Rex’s version of it. The hard truths are also tempered by many light-hearted moments. One highlight among these is a hilarious story about Rex trying to teach Vinnie and Phil to ski. All in all, Official Truth, 101 Proof is a fun, enthralling read and lives up to its promise.
Release Date: April, 2013
Written By: Darren Hinde