Pantera Toronto 2024Dan Savoie

Pantera perform at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto 2024

In a sonic onslaught that could only be described as a decibel-defying tribute to the late Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, Pantera, flanked by the ferocious Lamb of God and the explosive opening act S.N.A.F.U., turned Scotiabank Arena into a veritable thunderdome of metal on February 26, 2024. The evening was less a concert and more a seismic event, with Zakk Wylde’s guitar wails and Charlie Benante’s drum assaults ensuring the enduring spirit of Pantera roared louder than ever. Amidst this cacophony of tribute, original members Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown stood as titans, orchestrating a night that was as intense as it was loud, proving that some legends never die—they just get louder.

Zakk Wylde, known for his work with Black Label Society and as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist, brought a new dimension to Pantera’s sound. His playing, characterized by ferocious riffs and soulful solos, paid homage to Dimebag’s legacy while infusing the music with his unique style. Wylde’s deep respect for Pantera’s music was evident, as he navigated the setlist with both precision and passion, particularly during his epic performance of “Floods” solo

 

Charlie Benante, the powerhouse drummer from Anthrax, stepped into the shoes of Vinnie Paul with both reverence and prowess. Known for his fast double kick technique and ability to craft infectious beats, Benante’s rhythmic foundation was solid throughout the night. His involvement in the reunion, replacing his close friend, added a layer of emotional depth to the performance

Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown, the heart and soul of Pantera, demonstrated their unwavering dedication to the band’s legacy. Anselmo’s voice was stronger than ever, delivering each lyric with the intensity and raw emotion that Pantera’s music demands. His stage presence was commanding, a reminder of his role in shaping the band’s iconic sound. Rex Brown’s bass playing was as tight and powerful as always, providing the groove and backbone essential to Pantera’s heavy sound

The setlist was a journey through Pantera’s discography, featuring classics like “A New Level,” “Mouth for War,” and “Cowboys From Hell.” Each song was a tribute to the band’s history, with “Floods” and the encore “Fucking Hostile” (complete with a “Stairway to Heaven” snippet) standing out as highlights. These performances not only showcased the technical prowess of the band but also their emotional depth, as they paid homage to their fallen brothers

Lamb of God - Toronto 2024Dan Savoie

Lamb of God

Lamb of God, the main support act for Pantera, delivered a set that was hostile. The Richmond, Virginia-based metal titans, known for their blistering riffs and relentless energy, set the stage ablaze with a high-octane performance that left the crowd reeling. The band’s current lineup, featuring bassist John Campbell, vocalist Randy Blythe, guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler, and drummer Art Cruz, proved once again why they are revered as one of the most formidable acts in modern metal

The set kicked off with “Memento Mori,” a track that encapsulates Lamb of God’s ability to blend melodic elements with their signature aggressive sound. The band then tore through fan favorites like “Walk With Me in Hell” and “Now You’ve Got Something to Die For,” each song showcasing the band’s tight musicianship and Blythe’s guttural vocal prowess. The intensity only escalated with the crushing weight of “Resurrection Man” and “Ditch,” songs that demonstrate the band’s evolution and the seamless integration of Art Cruz, who took over the drum throne in 2019

Lamb of God’s performance was a relentless barrage of metal mastery, with “Ruin” and “Contractor” highlighting their ability to craft anthemic choruses amidst the chaos. The band’s dedication to their craft and their fans was noticeable, as they powered through a setlist that spanned their extensive discography. The emotional peak came with “Redneck,” dedicated to the Abbott brothers, which served as a poignant tribute and a unifying moment for the metal community

SNAFU - Toronto 2024Dan Savoie

SNAFU – Toronto 2024

Opening for Pantera and Lamb of God at Scotiabank Arena on February 26, 2024, was S.N.A.F.U., a band that embodies the raw, unbridled energy of thrash punk and hardcore. Hailing from Detroit, this group has carved out a niche for themselves with their in-your-face performances and relentless intensity. The current lineup, consisting of Scott Curnow, Rian Staber, Patrick “El Toro” Saldivar, and Mike Jurysta, brings together a mix of vocals, guitar, bass, and drums to create a sound that’s as hard-hitting as it is memorable. Their performance at the show was no exception, delivering a set that was both fun and ferociously intense, including a cover of Metallica’s “Fight Fire With Fire” that showcased their ability to pay homage while adding their unique flair

S.N.A.F.U.’s partnership with Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records for the release of their album “Exile//Banishment” in 2021 marked a significant milestone for the band. This record, tracked and produced by Philip “Landphil” Hall and his brother Josh “Hallhammer” Hall, is a testament to the band’s evolution. It’s loud, raw, and often hauntingly unhinged, embodying the spirit of punk and thrash in a way that’s both bombastic and deeply resonant. Their performance at Scotiabank Arena brought this energy to life, with tracks that felt like a sonic assault on the senses, designed to get the crowd hyped and ready for the headliners.

All photos by Dan Savoie

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