As of now, Pantera have six shows scheduled for December 2022, which will mark the re-formed metal titans' — now comprised of core members Philip Anselmo and Rex Brown, plus new recruits/old friends Zakk Wylde and Charlie Benante — first gigs in over 20 years. While many fans have expressed intense excitement about Pantera's unexpected return to the stage, others have been quick to air their grievance that without founding members Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, both deceased, this iteration of Pantera isn't a proper reunion.
Since Billboard reported earlier this summer that Wylde and Benante would be filling in for the late Abbott brothers, the two musicians have repeatedly emphasized that they view the shows as a way to honor Pantera's legacy, not insert themselves into the band.
In a new interview with Ultimate Guitar, Wylde doubled down on his past comments, reiterating that he doesn't consider Pantera's upcoming concerts an actual reunion, but rather an excuse to celebrate the band's beloved contributions to metal.
"It was so funny, because somebody was like, 'It's not Pantera!,' Wylde said. "Of course it's not Pantera. [Laughs]. It's Phil, Rex and two of their buddies getting together to honor Dime, Vinnie and all their achievements.
"It's a celebration of Pantera, he continued. "And all the mountains they conquered. It's the way I look at it."
Elsewhere in the interview, Wylde reiterated the story of how he was asked to be involved with the upcoming shows, which he had previously told in another interview earlier this year.
"There was always word about that going around," Wylde said of the possibility of a Pantera celebration. "And I just always said, 'That's up to the guys.' It's almost kind of like, the way I always viewed it, if Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding called up Eric Clapton because Eric and Jimi, they're all friends. And they're just like, 'Eric, we're gonna get together, and we're gonna go honor Jimi. Would you sing and play Jimi's stuff?' Of course Eric would do it. I mean, that's his buddy. Of course, I would do it.
"It's like, 'Zakk, would you ever do it?' It's like, 'Well, of course I'm going to do it. Why would I not?' I'm going to do best job I can, obviously, but that's not my decision, that's the guys. Back in the day with Vinnie, there were discussions, and then, after Vinnie passed away, I didn't think anything would ever happen. I remember Phil [Anselmo] called me one night, and was like, 'Zakk, me and Rex [Brown] would really love it if you would honor Dime.'
"And I was like, 'Of course, guys, I would always be here to honor Dime and all your achievements.' The way I looked at it — It's just a bunch of friends getting together, honoring their buddies, you know what I mean?"
As previously announced, Pantera will play what is currently lined up to be their first re-formation show, on December 2nd at Mexico's Hell & Heaven Metal Fest, alongside the Scorpions, Meshuggah, Arch Enemy and Cradle of Filth. On December 6th they'll perform at the Monterey Metal Fest in Monterey Mexico, alongside Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate and Behemoth.
Later in December, Pantera are scheduled to perform at Knotfest's three South American installments, in Colombia, Chile and Brasil. Knotfest Colombia will go down on Friday, December 9th at Campin Circuit of Bogotá; Knotfest Chile, on Sunday, December 11th at Estadio Monumental in Santiago; and Knotfest Brasil, Sunday, December 18th at Sambódromo do Anhembi in São Paulo.
Additionally, they'll perform a co-headlining show with Judas Priest in São Paulo, Brazil, on December 15th.