Recorded in the years before the unfortunate and premature death by shooting of Pantera guitar legend Dimebag Darrell, this collaboration between two legends in their own fields of music wasn’t released until a couple of years after Darrells’ death as a sort of tribute. One could be forgiven if they made the mistake of thinking this is a cheap cash-in on the demand for anything Darrell-related that was all the rage then. Even here in Finland, they had endless Dimebag Forever -tribute tours, sheesh. However, when Pantera (minus vocalist Phil Anselmo) and outlaw country badass David Allan Coe joined forces, the result wasn’t some kind of second rate throwaway crap. Not in the least.
For those not in the know, a collaboration between Pantera and David Allan Coe might seem unlikely. But it’s really not. For one, I am certain that as southerners, the boys in Pantera had been subjected to David Allan Coe’s brand of outlaw country since a young age, and those who know more than Coe’s few big hits know that he was one of the first country musicians to dabble in harder music. In fact, he has a handful of tracks that could be dubbed genuine country hard rock. So it sort of makes sense that these guys would get together in the studio and knock out some tunes.
Musically, this is heavy as fuck southern rocking metal with a lot of deadly groove and heavy, chugging riffing. Literally, Pantera putting on a deadly ZZ Top groove. David Allan Coe brings in country credibility to the album, his voice suiting the slightly country-tinted southern metal better than one might expect. All in all, what looks like an unlikely alliance and bad on paper turns out quite well in reality. There’s no real classic tracks here, and Rebel Meets Rebel is not an album destined for the annals of metal milestones (let alone country milestones), but I doubt anyone involved had that in mind. What Rebel Meets Rebel sounds like, and probably is, is a couple of musicians having fun in the studio, teaching each other tricks and just enjoying hammering out songs that aren’t quite at home in either artists’ own style.
Ten years after its release, Rebel Meets Rebel seems to have fallen into almost complete obscurity. Few Pantera fans I’ve talked to even know it exists. This is a shame, because it is a nice little footnote in the history of both Pantera and David Allan Coe.