A Dimebag Darrell Playlist (Just In Time For The Holidays)

Sometimes it can be difficult to get pumped up for the holidays, especially nowadays, when the sacred dates are saturated with commercialism, consumer greed, and an importance on tradition that, unfortunately for many, lost its spiritual meaning a long time ago.

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Sure -- Christmas gifts are nice (so take heed of my heavy metal gift list from last Metal Monday for that special rocker in your life) but when it comes to holiday shopping, it's brutal out there. People trampling each other to get to that $2 DVD bin. Waiting in lines for hours, shivering in freezing weather. Pushing old ladies out of the way to get to the three flavor tins of holiday popcorn (that cheesy popcorn is no joke).

Which brings me to my central question: What amps you up? What gets you in the zone?

For me, it's a great guitar riff, and no one can deny the riffing power of Dimebag Darrell. Saturday, December 8th marked the eight-year anniversary of his death, so I've compiled a list of his best riffs and solos in order to get myself pumped up for the terror of shopping. And, of course, to pay tribute to the incredible guitarist.

As Dimebag once said, "To me and my band, guitar riffs are what it's all about."

Picking the top Pantera songs based off of guitar is no easy feat. Pummeling power grooves incite moshpits; drill sergeant vocals resonate with a range of age groups, and the somehow non-douchebaggy peacocking brawn and bravado somehow worked in a metal head sort of way. Without question, Dimebag Darrell is one of the most important guitarists of all time, and Pantera's testosterone-driven mix was full of heart, militaristic delivery, and some of the most memorable riffs of all time.

As Chimaira frontman Mark Hunter once said: "There isn't a metal band I know that hasn't borrowed a riff or three from him."

"5 Minutes Alone"

Far Beyond Driven is by far my favorite Pantera album, a textbook slab of Pantera groove. Try not to give yourself a concussion headbanging to it.


You knew this track was gonna make the list. It embodies the Pantera spirit; so badass and intense that it's used by some of the biggest and baddest athletes as their entrance music. Raise a blacktooth grin and try not to spill it all over the place. Walk on home, boy.

"Fucking Hostile"

One of the fastest songs, not only on Vulgar Display of Power, but also in the Pantera catalog as a whole. Mmm..and just watch the Butcher Babies cover it, too.

"Suicide Note Pt. 1" and II"

Neither of these songs would exist without each other. One is soulful, the other, savage. Some of the most experimental Pantera music ever, with the guitar distortion swapped in favor of a 12-string acoustic axe. In my mind, punk rock, even.

"Cemetary Gates"

Some may think it's cliché, but honestly "This Love" and "Cemetary Gates" are classic Pantera jams, as well as incredible power ballads. "Cemetary Gates" displays the band's love of Judas Priest and shows the its sensitive side -- but go ahead and call it soft and see what happens to you. Go on.


Meaty, poignant and ballsy, this song is a great example of the power grooves always at the core of Pantera's sound. Dimebag's guitar on this song helped establish the band's DNA.

"This Love"

Aw, the quintessential heavy metal love song. I swear. It may have been one of the main songs that dragged me into the clutches of these cowboys from hell, but it's one that I will never ever forget.

"I'm Broken"

Slayer's Kerry King admitted a while back that Dime's incredible guitar riff in this song is one of his favorites. Plus, it was created while Dime was just messing around during a soundcheck.

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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise