Slayer guitarist Kerry King is one of the forefathers of thrash — but did you know that he had a hand in shaping the biggest groove-metal band of all time, as well? Following a fateful first encounter with Pantera through a mutual friend — specifically, Philip Anselmo's boxing coach — at a Dallas concert in 1988, the guitarist began chatting and jamming with the Cowboys From Hell on the regular, and even played a show with them the following year, on May 19th at Joe's Garage in Fort Worth, Texas. More significantly, King's otherworldly mastery of the musical dark arts was instrumental in spurring Pantera's evolution from a glammy heavy-metal outfit to a bonafide, southern-fried wrecking crew.
"Dimebag [Darrell] and Kerry sitting down with each other opened up Dimebag's eyes, and eventually the rest of the guys' eyes, to the power of thrash," Anselmo later recalled to Talking Metal. "The magic of it really influenced us to push our own music over the edge."
In 1993, Guitar World asked Darrell to name his 12 favorite songs for a feature titled "Diamond Darrell's Dirty Dozen." Among those dozen, the Pantera shredder included his top Slayer cut, a Hell Awaits classic.
Those guys have a real unorthodox style of playing — it's totally not normal. [Laughs] They have unbelievable rhythm chops. Their songs taught me how to play with guts and aggression.
The half-time feel on "At Dawn They Sleep" is really cool, too. I like how they just start and stop out of nowhere, using no time to build up or wind down. They never give you a chance to get into a song: As soon as it starts, they're battering you over the head, hard and fast.