It's no secret that Phil Anselmo is a huge Slayer fan. The dude has their logo tattooed on his forearm. And it turns out, Phil owes a lot of his career to Slayer guitarist Kerry King.
You see, back in the 80s, Pantera were more of a glam/power metal band. Here, take a listen:
Not exactly Cowboys From Hell is it? Well, in a new interview with Talking Metal, Anselmo seems to suggest that meeting Kerry King was the exact moment when the band decided to "toughen up" their sound.
Mark Strigl: Talk about Kerry King. He seems to be somebody who had some influence on what you guys did with Pantera. Do you remember meeting him for the first time?
Philip Anselmo: Absolutely, yeah. Pantera, before we were signed, would play every weekend in the DFW area or Shreveport Louisiana or whatever along those circuits and we had a weekend booked playing a club in Dallas which really consisted of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Slayer were playing right down the street on, I believe the beginning of the South of Heaven tour. They were planning on a Saturday night, they got in town on a Friday and my boxing coach used to be a radio DJ and he called my house and said hey man I got Tom Araya in here, do you want to talk to him, do you want to meet him and I’m like ‘”definitely.” So I talked to Tom on the phone briefly for a moment. Then sure enough he brought Tom, Kerry and Jeff, Rest in Peace, out to the show that night on Friday and we met all those guys and they got up on stage and did a couple songs with us. We knew Reign in Blood and one other song, umm, like I said my memory is pathetic. Kerry and I hit it off and we exchanged phone numbers. Really he kept in touch quite a bit and it was awesome especially for a kid, like I was at the time, who really, for me the greatest bands from California, especially at the time, were Black Flag and Slayer. Definitely at the time… Slayer was the be-all end-all for me. To befriend a guy like Kerry King was a huge thing. Kerry would call all the time and when he would have downtime, off time from the road, he would fly in and come hang out with us and this was around the time where I was beating my head against the wall desperately trying to turn the guys in Pantera on to heavier music and Slayer was the paramount band. I was saying please give them a chance and sure enough Dimebag and I would listen to Hell Awaits and he started to get it and feel it but there was one specific time when Kerry King called me and he said “hey” and I said “yes” and he said “I’m coming down.” And I said “ok” and he said “but this time I don’t want them mess around” and I said “what you mean by that?” and he said “I want to jam.” I said “well, let me ask the rest of the guys and see what we can do.” So he flew in early in the week so we can work out in an entire set and I think, a matter fact I will go on record and say I positively know that Dimebag and Kerry King sitting down with each other opened up Dimebag’s eyes and really eventually the rest of the guys eyes to the power of the thrash rift and the magic of it and really influenced us to push our own music over the edge and all props to Kerry King there. That night was an awesome night, a matter of fact it was two nights in a row. We did Slayer songs, Kerry King did old Pantera songs with us. We did Judas Priest songs and it was fun and it was a blast and I can’t go into how much of change the direction of Pantera.
Mark Strigl: When you say he did old Pantera songs with you are you talking about stuff that was on the Power Metal record?
Philip Anselmo: Absolutely. He played the song Power Metal with us which is a very intricate rift in itself and we even modified the song to where there was a breakdown part where Dime and Kerry went into this creepy Slayer-esque anti-melodic harmony part guitar thing and it was very spontaneous but still cool as hell.
Mark Strigl: When he came down to jam with you guys, was he just trying to help you guys out? Or was he interested working with you guys on some level?
Philip Anselmo: “Ooo…. I shouldn’t probably talk about this but … I do think… I’ll put it like this, he was having fun. I don’t think he was trying to help us as much as have fun himself and jamming with Dimebag because I know Dimebag blew his mind as a guitar player and really… He loved… I guess his love of Judas Priest and where my vocal range was at the time. He loved it and I think it was a nice departure for him to come down and jam with us so I’ll just say he’s having fun BUT… I could say more but I won’t.”
It's easy to assume that Anselmo is suggesting here that King may have joined Pantera. But this was the late 80s when Slayer were super-huge, so I doubt he would even have the time. Still there are videos that exist that show King on stage jamming "Power Metal" with the band in 1989 and rehearsal footage: