Being a Pantera fan, Official Truth, 101 Proof was a book I was certain many of us metalheads were eager to read. To me, their songs are filled with so much power and energy with such precise raw aggression they are easily one of my all-time favorite heavy metal bands. Having been fortunate enough to have seen them live back in 1992 (more on that a little later), this was a book I certainly could not wait to get my hands on.
Official Truth, 101 Proof is the chronicle of Rex Brown’s life, his childhood and upbringing, his joining and rise to fame with Pantera as their bassist and what ultimately led to the demise of one of the most influential bands in metal and music history. You hear about how their timeless music was made and the journey these four metalheads took who came together to create some of the most powerful and longstanding metal music ever recorded in my opinion. You hear of the wild drug and alcohol fueled frenzies that fans had always heard about which earned Pantera their party animal fame. In a fluid and easy to follow manner Rex bears it all, including his interactions with his family, the band’s management and his bandmates and is very open about the tensions they all faced that arise with fame and fortune as the band ultimately took their place at the top of the metal world. Rex explains in detail how four musicians that were once closer than most families grew apart because of their personality and musical differences and you hear how those same partying ways they were known for tore this band apart.
One thing to keep in mind when reading this book is that everything is from Rex’s point of view. While he is humble in his criticisms of anyone mentioned, he doesn’t point fingers or cast blame, he does make the point clear in the beginning that this is the story the way he remembers it, and his feelings associated with any and everyone who was closely associated with the band or in his life. You’ll hear about when Rex’s bandmates blamed each other for the demise of Pantera he refused to choose sides – instead focusing on letting his music express his pain and frustration. I very much enjoyed the read and the visuals of my own memories associated with Pantera that came to mind as I got further along in the book.
A funny story that goes back to the one time I did see Pantera live. A friend went with us who hadn’t been to many concerts. Once Pantera came on and that pit started, my friend was in fear for his life and got out of there as soon as possible and stayed by the fire exit the rest of the show he said. As a metal concert veteran and having been in many pits back in my younger days, to this day, that was the most brutal pit I have ever been in. I remember emerging after the show with my shirt torn to shreds and absolutely drenched in sweat, not all of it mine. My friend vowed that night to never go to another show with us after that – we are still friends and in touch and the running joke is I invite him to a show and he declines saying he already has a previously scheduled appointment that date even if it is six months away.
Fans of Pantera who are interested in the origins, the wild parties while the band rose to fame and the collapse of this legendary band will certainly enjoy this book. \m/