Benante and Zakk Wylde are joining long-time Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown to revive the music of one of the most influential American heavy metal bands of all-time, with shows this December in Latin America and more to be announced for next year.
Pantera broke up in 2003. Guitarist 'Dimebag' Darrell Abbott was murdered in 2004; drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott died of a heart attack in 2018. Anselmo and Brown began putting together the upcoming tribute last year with support from the Abbott brothers' families.
Benante, who's been friends with Pantera since the mid-'80s, shared an update Sunday from the exhaustive rehearsal sessions.
"[Two] weeks in NOLA with these boys, it’s been a lot of work but how could it not?" he writes. "So much heart and soul is going into it. This is all about the Love for Vinnie and Dime, the fans and the music that these [four] created. I’m really enjoying playing these songs — they sound Great! It’s very emotional and it’s just starting to hit me… see you soon, I need a drink."
Benante has previously said that his goal for the Pantera tribute is to sound as much like Vinnie Paul as possible.
"The way I'm gonna do that is if you close your eyes, it's gonna sound like it's Vinnie, basically," he said of reproducing Vinnie's iconic drum sound.
Wylde added in subsequent interviews that he planned to use guitars Darrell personally gave to him, as well as some of Darrell's own gear, for the shows. He was, however, less optimistic than Benante he would be able to reproduce his counterpart's sound.
Wylde noted that he has lots of experience playing other guitarists' parts from his time with Ozzy Osbourne, but he's never had luck approximating their tone.
"I can practice all I want and stay as faithful as I want, but I am never going to escape [my sound]," he said in one recent interview.
The first Pantera tribute show is December 2 at a festival in Mexico. The camp is expected to announce more live dates by the new year.