One of the great American heavy metal bands was Pantera. Along with Metallica, in the dim, dark days of the late 1980's and early 1990's, they kept alive a kind of pure faith when so many thought Motley Crue was heavy metal, and the popularity of Anthrax's speed metal was aided by their ubiquitous t-shirts. With brothers "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott on guitar and Vinnie Paul on drums - two flamboyant, charismatic musicians - they provided simple, clear heavy metal for true believers.
When Darrell Abbott was murdered on stage in late 1994, while certainly horrible, it provided a certain levity because I sat and listened to the report read by Carl Castle of NPR news. Hearing Castle intone "Dimebag" with his resonant baritone was truly a crossing of cultural barricades.