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Rebel Meets Rebel Review

by Travis Becker

Rebel Meets Rebel = David Allan Coe and the Cowboys from Hell

Eighteen months after the horrendous tragedy that claimed the life of Dimebag Darrell Abbott, his fans are finally being treated to some new material from one of the most creative and dominant guitarists in metal. Bucking the recent trend which has the post-mortem release schedule of departed artists more active than when those artists were still alive, Rebel Meets Rebel is the first substantive collection of Dimebag material since Damageplan's 2004 release, New Found Power. Those expecting a resurrection of Pantera or even Damageplan, however, need look elsewhere. On Rebel Meets Rebel, the lineup of Pantera is intact minus singer Philip Anselmo but this is no Pantera record. Taking Anselmo's place behind the microphone on this release is country singer, David Allan Coe.

Initially conceived and recorded during downtime for both artists, Rebel Meets Rebel was a project that was clearly close to Abbott, a Coe fan, but whether it would ever see widespread release was unclear even before the guitarist's death. Coe has always been popular amongst Rock and Roll and Metal personalities. His outlaw attitude and long-haired, tattooed appearance make him a natural choice as a representative of Country music in Rock circles. He's also a hell of a songwriter, and it shows on this project.

Released on drummer Vinnie Paul's Big Vin Records (the label's first release), the liner notes make clear that Rebel Meets Rebel isn't intended to be a Country release or a Metal release, but rather a "get together of County Metal Minds." That description actually serves the project rather well, but in truth the wailing guitars and Coe's reasonably twangless voice land the album much closer to Metal country than to Country Metal. Heavy Southern Rock may be an apt moniker as well, in the vein of a juiced up Molly Hatchet but with one guitar doing the work of three.

Many projects like this, supergroups consisting of legends in their genres, collapse under their own weight. The talent is there, but booze and good times win out and no real songs get written, dooming the record to little more than curiosity status. Coe and Dimebag do it the right way, however. Although booze was clearly integral to the project, the collaboration sounds completely natural, and works like two guys with mutual respect, just jamming and creating music. In another universe, Coe has been the singer of Pantera all along.

The solid songwriting immediately grabs the listener on Rebel Meets Rebel. From "Nothin' To Lose" all the way through "No Compromise", these songs are well-crafted and hold together no matter how many genres of music collide in their midst. Coe's lyrics mesh completely with the band's structures and tempos and the band falls into step behind Coe's easy delivery. Thematically, the songs are predictable. Coe and the band have penned songs from the shared consciousness of Rock and Country about pride, booze, drugs, women, and loss. In different arrangements, these songs could fit in nicely on radio for either genre.

Dimebag shines as the star of Rebel Meets Rebel, from beginning to end. Maybe you don't miss someone so much until they're gone and hearing Dimebag tear into some of the solos on Rebel Meets Rebel is like meeting up with an old friend. There are some new elements, like the fiddle sound over top of the crushing riff that drives the title track, but overall, it's classic Dimebag. "Cowboys Do More Dope" is a more traditional sounding country song, dressed up with piano, but with the characteristic Dimebag tone and sound all over it. "Get Outta My Life", the most metal offering on the disc, highlights the disc with a Dimebag solo for the ages. That solo, coupled with Coe's echoing vocals and backing vocals featuring none other than Hank III, makes for a classic Metal song.

Whatever you think of Country music or David Allan Coe, Rebel Meets Rebel fills a huge void that has existed since December 8th, 2004. Just hearing that guitar come out of the speakers will make you smile if you were in any way a fan of Dimebag Darrell. Vinnie Paul, as well, should be commended for making the first release on Big Vin records one of quality and necessity. One listen to the last song on the disc, "N.Y.C Streets", the only completely improvised track on the release, would be enough to cement the legacy of this undertaking and would have reached legendary status quickly as a bootleg if Paul hadn't been kind enough to release it. It may feel a little sad at first, but Rebel Meets Rebel will ultimately put a smile on your face as Dimebag's guitar slaps you in the face and reminds you that Rock and Roll is a joyful occasion.

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Rebel Meets Rebel

Label:Big Vin Records

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