Pantera, Sofia,Bulgaria 26/5/2023


As much as some feel that Philip Anselmo and Rex Brown’s choice to bring the ‘Pantera’ name back to the surface was pointless and meaningless, there will be thousands of fans who will be eternally grateful and thankful for being lucky enough to hear their colossal tracks live.. Personally I was very happy and it goes without saying that I would not miss the opportunity to see one of the most important bands in heavy metal history and the addition of Zakk Wylde on guitars in combination with Charlie Benante on the drums confirmed to me that we are off to a great start… When Greece is nowhere on the horizon for their dates for the near future at least, then choosing another country is the only way. So I found myself once again in Bulgaria (after October 22 for Helloween), in the same stadium again with the purpose of adding another historic concert to my memories. Two local bands opened the night with a short slot for each, which most of us didn’t know as it wasn’t listed anywhere, but we were comfortable with the timing. So, beers and onwards to the front gate.

The New Level begins and the first fires go out in the sky of Armeec Arena. It’s those times when you can’t believe easily that you see faces that raised generations and generations of fans with their music and you hope that this never ends…I don’t know what could happen if I was in a similar situation in Greece. Applause and shouts rain down and the chill that Phil reserved for us early on, unique …”Every note that we play, is for Dimebag and Vince” were his words pointing to the sky and somewhere there I know that every comment is unnecessary. Up next were Mouth For War and Strength Beyond Strength …

Setlists nowadays  may spread around the Internet months before the actual shows, but in this particular case I was “uninformed”. So, I saw from track by track that the band’s most historic hits will be played and even with the best stage show. Seeing the pictures of the brothers on Charlie’s cases and on Zakk’s leather jacket was something that made me feel that they are there somewhere and they see us and live with us the whole time. Becoming , I’m Broken and Suicide Note pt.II were the tracks that fired us up for good and put us in the pits in front of the stage for the rest of the live. 5 Minutes Alone, This Love and Fucking Hostile ? ..What do you say now ! ..recital by Phil as if not a day had passed and Charlie and Zakk really giving his best! . After all, we know that these are not two random musicians and that their impression in  heavy metal is already of great importance. The production is masterful and corresponds to their name. Somewhere there we get to the most important point of the concert where the flow of tears from the eyes of many was really inevitable. The show becomes cinematic and the band shows us on the big screen a video of the moments in which Dime and Vince are inside under the sounds of the Cemetery Gates. Chills and awe! Their choice to cut the track in half and combine it with Planet Caravan making it sound like a whole ballad was something that made the whole situation even more emotional for all of us.

Walk, Domination and Cowboys From Hell could not be missing from this extraordinary feast. In the case of Domination, of course, only the part of the breakdown was played along with the last solo, and Hollow was also played from behind, which I personally would like to be played normally because it is my favorite Pantera track! ..Of course this has little meaning in front of what we experienced. I feel really proud of Pantera’s choice to give many countries of the world the opportunity to hear the songs they loved so much and I want to believe that they will pass through our country too ..I will definitely be there too as once is never enough! Yesterday don’t mean shit..!!!

SETLIST: A New Level, Mouth For War, Strength Beyond Strength, Becoming, I’m Broken, Suicide Note Pt.II, 5 Minutes Alone, This Love, Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit, Fucking Hostile, (video) Cemetery Gates, Planet Caravan, Walk, Domination/Hollow, Cowboys From Hell

Kostas Mouzakitis