Damageplan was an American heavy metal band from Dallas, Texas, formed in 2003. Following the demise of their previous group Pantera, brothers Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul Abbott wanted to start a new band. The pair recruited former Diesel Machine and Halford guitarist Pat Lachman on vocals, and later Bob Zilla on bass. Damageplan released their only studio album New Found Power in the United States on February 10, 2004, which debuted at number 38 on the Billboard 200, selling 44,676 copies in its first week.
While Damageplan was promoting the album at a concert on December 8, 2004, at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, a man named Nathan Gale climbed on stage and killed lead guitarist Darrell and three others, and wounding another seven, before being shot dead by police officer James Niggemeyer. Although no motive was found, some witnesses claimed Gale blamed the brothers for Pantera's breakup and believed that they had stolen his lyrics. The band's manager confirmed there are unreleased Damageplan recordings, although they have not surfaced, and the band has not performed since the incident. Abbott and Zilla have joined the band Hellyeah, and Lachman joined The Mercy Clinic.
By 2003, guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott were not pleased with the difficulties heavy metal band Pantera was experiencing. Abbott described the performance level of Pantera's vocalist, Phil Anselmo, as "hit and miss, depending on what type of chemicals he was on." Following the release of Pantera's 2000 album Reinventing the Steel, Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown started to focus on their side projects and did not discuss or record any further Pantera material, while Darrell and Vinnie wanted to continue to write and play music. They thought it was time to move on and, upon disbanding Pantera, began writing new material.
A demo of the song "Crawl" was sent to former Halford guitarist Pat Lachman who auditioned as vocalist. Lachman was hired, and New Found Power was formed in early 2003 with former Jerry Cantrell guitarist Shawn Matthews on bass initially, who was replaced after the album recording with the brothers' tattoo artist, Bob Zilla. When writing music, Vinnie claimed; "we put no boundaries on it ... we wanted it to be very diverse", and Darrell said "We wanted to stretch out and expand our capabilities to their fullest." The band changed its name to Damageplan and decided to name the first album New Found Power.
The single "Save Me" debuted on American radio on January 26, 2004 and the band's debut album, New Found Power, was released in the United States on February 10, 2004. The album was recorded at the brothers' backyard studio, Chasin' Jason in Arlington, Texas, where previous Pantera albums were recorded. Abbott found that during recording everyone was willing to contribute and "put 100% effort into it", while with Pantera he found it difficult to get Anselmo in the recording studio. Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society, and Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains made guest appearances on the tracks "Fuck You", "Soul Bleed", and the bonus track "Ashes To Ashes" respectively, and Sterling Winfield handled co-production duties.
New Found Power sold 44,676 copies in its first week to debut at number 38 on the Billboard 200. The album received mixed reviews from music critics; Christine Klunk of PopMatters commented "I'm not in the least bit interested in where this band goes or what new and exciting ways they'll think of to abuse the listeners," while Johnny Loftus of AllMusic felt it was a "blazing new beginning".
Alice in Chains' vocalist/guitarist Jerry Cantrell attended a Thanksgiving party hosted by the brothers. Darrell and Vinnie had a demo of the first song they wrote titled "Ashes to Ashes". Lachman insisted it was on the "backburner" until Cantrell showed interest. The band entered the brothers' backyard studio with Cantrell to record "Ashes to Ashes". Although the song was not completed in time to be featured on New Found Power, it was included on the Japanese version and the soundtrack The Punisher: The Album. To promote New Found Power, the band toured with Hatebreed, Drowning Pool, and Unearth on the second installment of the Headbangers Ball.
On December 8, 2004, the band was on a tour at Alrosa Villa, a Columbus, Ohio, nightclub. Moments into the concert, Nathan Gale, a former U.S. Marine, climbed onto the stage and shot Dimebag Darrell in the head multiple times. Head of Security for the band Jeffery "Mayhem" Thompson engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Gale, which allowed Vinnie Abbott and other members to escape; Thompson was also killed. A fan named Nathan Bray, who attempted to give CPR to Thompson and Darrell, and Erin Halk, a U.S. Marine-turned-roadie who charged at Gale while he was reloading, were both killed as well. Once the police arrived, an officer named James Niggemeyer approached the stage from the side and saw Gale holding a gun to a hostage. Niggemeyer killed him with a single shotgun blast to the head. Fifteen shots were fired by Gale, and an additional 36 rounds were found on his person.
A police investigation did not find a motive behind the shooting, although Gale's mother said that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and that he believed the brothers had stolen his lyrics while trying to steal his identity. She did not know if her son took the medication he was given for his condition, but was proud of his military service following his discharge, and had given him the Beretta 92F that was used in the shooting. Major Jason Johnston, a Marine Corps spokesman at The Pentagon, was unable to comment on Gale's discharge.
A foundation called The Dimebag Darrell Memorial Fund was created after the incident, which donated its profits to cover medical expenses of drum technician John Brooks and tour manager Chris Paluska, who were among those injured in the shooting. A public memorial service for Darrell took place on December 14, 2004 at Arlington Convention Center in Arlington, Texas. Many musicians paid tribute to Darrell on message boards and at live performances.
In May 2005, Niggemeyer was called before a grand jury, which was convened by the Franklin County prosecutor's office to examine the actions taken that night, a standard practice when deadly force is used. The jury found there was no wrongdoing on Niggemeyer's part. Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien commented, "There was little doubt [the shooting] was lawful, given the 200 eyewitnesses and the circumstances that surrounded the shooting. Nevertheless, we still have an independent body review the facts". Niggemeyer was nominated for a bravery award on the TV show America's Most Wanted.
In a 2005 interview, Damageplan manager Paul Bassman said unreleased recordings before Darrell's death were near completion. He commented, "Vinnie Paul has said there will be a follow-up album down the road, as Dime would have wanted his music to be heard." Rumors circulated of another album, although nothing has been released.
Following the events of December 8, 2004, Abbott was unsure if he wanted to continue playing music. He was invited to join Hellyeah, which included members of Mudvayne and Nothingface, but declined the offer. However, bassist Jerry Montano repeatedly called Abbott and he accepted to join the project as he thought "Everybody had their head in the right place." Hellyeah released its debut album on April 10, 2007. One week later, Zilla joined the band as its new bassist, after Montano left due to "personal reasons". The album was recorded at Abbott's backyard studio, Chasin' Jason, where New Found Power was recorded.
Vocalist Lachman joined The Mercy Clinic, which aided the grieving process. He commented, "you have to get back on the horse. You could easily let a decade go by and not do anything. I'm happy to have walked away with my life after the situation I was thrown into. But, I mean, what do you do? I'm a musician. I'm going to make music. What Dime would have told me was, 'You make music, motherfucker. Get back on it. Do what you do.' So, that's what I did." Before the shooting, Phil Anselmo made the statement "Dimebag deserves to be severely beaten" in the December 2004 edition of Metal Hammer. He denied making the comments and apologized, although Abbott requested Metal Hammer to provide the audio tapes to prove the authenticity of what Anselmo said. Abbott found the quote authentic and referred to him as the "master of lies".
A book titled A Vulgar Display of Power: Courage and Carnage at the Alrosa Villa was penned by author Chris Armold. For 14 months, Armold interviewed people and researched the events leading up to December 8, stating "It's not a book about rock stars, but heroes, regular guys who made the ultimate sacrifice." In his research, Armold found no evidence that the comments Anselmo made before Darrell's death had influenced Gale's actions. The book was released in 2007.
Damageplan incorporated elements of traditional heavy metal, post-grunge, metalcore and death metal. Their sound has mainly been described as nu metal and thrash metal.
The lyrical process was a collaborative effort consisting of Vinnie, Darrell, and Lachman. Themes explored on the album included the brothers' experiences, Darrell commented, "the crumbling of one empire and then starting over ... So there are a lot of lyrics about being reborn in a sense, about it being a new day, moving forward, letting go of the past and becoming something new." This is exemplified in the songs "Reborn", "Wake up", and "Breathing New Life". "Blunt Force Trauma" is about when someone or something comes up behind you when you least expect it, "it could be a situation in your life, it could be a person you know with a beer bottle".
When writing music, Abbott and Darrell suggested guitar riffs and "grooves", while Lachman added his input to modify the song's structure. The band's sound has been described by music critics to be similar to Pantera. Christine Klunk of PopMatters disliked the similarities and commented, "aside from a constant, driving rhythm, repetitive riffs, and unintelligible lyrics about (I'm assuming) kicking ass—there's nothing of interest to pay attention to". The song "Breathing New Life" features 180 beats-per-minute bass drum pedaling, what Vik Bansal of MusicOMH described as "exploding into a blaze of riffage and a cool chorus". Bansal was impressed with certain elements of the song such as the switch from downbeat singing to "a big chorus lodged in power chord heaven", and the incorporated groove rhythms. However, he felt Darrell "borrows" Anthrax's guitar solo from the song "Only".
|2004||"Save Me"||16||New Found Power|
|"Breathing New Life"||—|
|"—" denotes singles that were released but did not chart.|
|"Breathing New Life"||Red Ezra|
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