Pantera was an American heavy metal band from Arlington, Texas, that formed in 1981. Although initially influenced by 1980s glam metal/hard rock bands, thrash metal acts such as Slayer and Metallica as well as traditional metal bands such as Black Sabbath would prove to be influential in the band's significant change in musical direction at the end of the 1980s. From there, Pantera became a key formulator of the groove metal (post-thrash) subgenre of heavy metal music.
It would not be until nine years after forming that Pantera saw its first bit of commercial success in its major label debut, Cowboys from Hell. From there, Pantera became one of the most celebrated heavy metal bands of the 1990s. Despite the generally cold reception of the band's first four albums, critics have lauded Pantera's style thereafter; Jason Birchmeier of the All Music Guide considers Pantera to be "arguably the greatest metal band of '90s and ... one of the greatest and most influential metal bands ever." The band has received accolades such as ranking 45 on VH1's list of the "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock" and fifth on MTV's "Top 10 Greatest Heavy Metal Bands of All-Time".
Due to long-standing internal conflicts, Pantera dissolved in 2003. The following year, the band's guitarist, Dimebag Darrell, was shot and killed on-stage while performing with his new band, Damageplan.