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Dimebag Beyond Forever
A Finnish tribute to Dimebag Darrell

dimebag darrell

This interview was done by Tanja Caciur in Helsinki.
All the questions have been answered by Nico Hartonen (GODSPLAGUE), Jules Näveri (PROFANE OMEN) and Ville Sorvali (MOONSORROW) face-to-face.

Gallery link: Dimebag Beyond Forever 2009

Dimebag Darrell Abbott – a legendary guitarist and a metal music icon who left a priceless and irreplaceable heritage to all the metal followers around the world. The news of the devastating tragedy that took place on December 8, 2004 in Columbus, Ohio where Dimebag was shot dead onstage made many a heart skip a beat. A deranged mind armed with a handgun took away one of the most gifted musicians of our times. Yet nothing and nobody will ever take away his music and the impact it made on our lives. Pantera’s songs echoed in many souls and someone had to continue the story.

Finland once again got a chance to prove that it was much more than a bunch of frozen drunkards riding polar bears around the Santa Claus village. The country where metal music runs in the water and floats in the air couldn’t let one of its most influential heroes pass away without an appropriate farewell ceremony. The idea of “Dimebag Beyond Forever” – a Dimebag Darrell tribute project belongs to Nico Hartonen and Euge Valovirta from Finnish band Godsplague. On January 15, 2005 the first concert gathered on stage 47 of Finland’s best metal musicians. It had such a great success and demand that since then it became an annual tradition. The number of musicians has decreased but the power remains the same. Every year in the beginning of December they set out on a “class trip from Hell” and play Pantera covers all over Finland ending it in Helsinki with a show that can move to tears even the toughest and most devoted Pantera fans.

Before the last show of 2009 tour we got to talk about Pantera and the project with Nico Hartonen (Godsplague), Jules Näveri (Profane Omen) and Ville Sorvali (Moonsorrow) – people who have been doing this from the very beginning and are not going to stop.

All of them were kids when they heard Pantera for the first time and it gave them the unforgettable impression.

Nico: I was about 14 years old and I was hanging out with big boys. They were listening to Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile” on repeat and I thought that this song was pretty fucking offensive. Later I discovered that there were also other songs by this band and at that moment the new level really hit me hard.

Ville: I was in elementary school and we were trading tapes with friends. Someone bought “Vulgar Display Of Power” (1992), recorded it and gave it out to everyone else to listen to it. During that year I was certain that Pantera is my favourite band. I was listening to that one tape only which contained almost the entire album. I was 12 years old and I was very serious about music.

Jules: I was 14 years old when my best friend came to my place with “Cowboys From Hell”. We put it on and started to go crazy about it jumping on my bed and stuff like that. We thought that it was the best thing in music so far. And I guess that’s where it started from, no return.

Much water has flowed under the bridge since then. Pantera visited Finland a few times and left burning prints even in the most metalized hearts.

Nico: I saw Pantera a few times and got to meet Dimebag twice. The first time was in 1994 in Helsinki Ice Hall, the band was on tour for Far Beyond Driven album and there was an afterparty in a bar. The guys came over there so I had the chance to meet everyone. The second time was at Nummirock festival in 1998. Pantera played there with Slayer. There was a crazy Finnish band called Sleepy Sleepers and they had old-fart mopeds, really old models. Dime was driving one of them backstage and we laughed our asses off. When I turned 30 my friends gave me a bottle of Jaloviina (Finnish cut brandy – auth.) with a tag on which Dimebag is shown driving that moped. I still have this bottle and I am 34.

Ville: I saw them once, at Nummirock 98. That festival was really memorable in many ways. I was watching Pantera and some guy burned his shirt and threw it in the air, it fell on other people. But well, this is probably the way to watch the band.

finnish dimebag tribute

Pantera gave a lot of fans a time of their lives. But on that black day the world of metal music was never the same again – it was shattered by a senseless and unbearable loss. As any American citizen (at least in his 50’s) remembers where he was when Kennedy was shot, so does every devoted metalhead remember how the terrible news reached him. It seemed unbelievable that something like this could happen for real.

Nico: I was working when a friend called me. He read the news from the teletext or something and I thought it was just a pretty bad gag. It wasn’t funny at all. My friend convinced me that he was very serious and that it was true. For me the next two months were like hell in black. I don’t know why I got caught in it too much, it was pretty hard.

Ville: I can’t remember which weekday it was but I had a day off so I woke up in a hangover. My friend called and told me to check the Internet. I said alright, got online and was just staring at the screen browsing through the news: “What? Dimebag got shot on stage?!” Did this really happen? I couldn’t believe this for many hours, not just because of Dimebag but also because of what happened. Do people actually shoot other people on stage?

Jules: When I woke up I had about 20 text messages from my friends telling that Dimebag was shot. I had the same feeling like Ville when I checked the news. Who does this shit? Is this for real? I was also thinking that if that happened once could it happen again in a short period of time? Some other crazy guy could’ve read the news and thought to himself: “Oh, you can do this?!” and go on doing it. Luckily it didn’t happen.

The death of a larger-than-life musician requires a larger-than-life tribute. That’s how “Dimebag Beyond Forever” was created. Covering a band like Pantera has to be done on an appropriate level not to make a fool out of oneself. These guys play their shows in a true Pantera style as well as they keep on maintaining Pantera’s famous reputation offstage which was very well pictured in the “Watch It Go” videos.

Jules: I think we have the same spirit with our crew, it’s constantly there.

Ville: The things that happen on stage and especially off stage - Dimebag would be proud of it.

Nico: He would be the MC at our parties. There was an article in the newspaper in Pori (a city in Finland – auth.) advertising the gig which said “If you are not familiar with Pantera’s music you should come and check out the show because it is really what it’s all about”. And one of the coolest things is that we don’t really have to re-make anything, it just goes this way. It’s the same spirit that got stuck with us.

finnish dimebag tribute

This year’s tour almost cost the musicians their lives as the tour bus’ engine took fire on the road from one city to another. The bus burned down to ashes a few minutes after the guys managed to escape.

Jules: There is also a bunch of personal stuff that got lost along the way but the main thing is that we’re all alive.

Ville: You can always buy stuff but we were really happy when we got out of the bus and the name call was over and everyone was there. We’re alive!

Nico: A newspaper wrote that there were 20 musicians standing shaking on the pavement but we were like “Fuck yeah!” drinking booze. It was natural after we got over this emotional moment, when we realized that we’re alive and how lucky we are. We weren’t down at all; we were going to blast at the gig that night.

Jules: That show definitely had a special feeling going on stage. I think the audience has also felt it, I guess a lot of them knew what happened and they were showing their support and giving us all 120%. It seemed like a mass-psychosis.

Dimebag’s brother Vinnie Paul has heard about these Cowboys from Hell(sinki) and was so moved by what they do that he sent them a hand-written thank-you letter.

Nico: This is a long story. Euge has a friend who is working for Vinnie Paul in the States so the news got to Vinnie Paul’s ears and he was very touched. He saw the videos from DBF gigs around Finland and wrote us that letter. We printed it on last year’s crew t-shirts on the back. We tried to get Vinnie Paul here too but he has been busy and it’s also very expensive but someday… He also keeps Pantera’s blog on Myspace and he posted our video of “Heresy” there which got a great feedback.

finnish dimebag tribute

When the music of a band like Pantera goes hand in hand with you through your entire life there must be one certain song that you could have as your personal anthem.

Nico: Revolution Is My Name

Ville: 13 Steps To Nowhere – that’s my motto.

Jules: Strength Beyond Strength.

One more peculiar thing about the Dimebag Beyond Forever tribute project is that all musicians play there absolutely for free. The profit goes to Crime Victims Support Finland charity organization.

Nico: There’s a lot of shit going on so we’re contributing this little token for those who suffer(ed).

Jules: The Victims Support Finland organization told us that it is a huge help for them. We’re doing some really important stuff and I am proud of being a part of this.

Ville: There are not many things I can do in life: I can play and be on stage. But it’s great that I can lend my talent to actually help someone and I am pleased to do this for free because I know that the money is going in the right direction. And we still don’t get a dime.

Like most gigs of this tour the last show was also sold out. For all the people who never got to see Pantera live it is a great opportunity to feel the unique atmosphere inherent to genuine Pantera gigs. The energy is so intense that it makes your entire essence shake on the brim of explosion. There are no boundaries to how crazy you can go: endless crowd surfing, insane moshpit, headbang till you drop. The guys slayed the crowd showing absolutely no mercy. And what mercy can there possibly be when we’re talking Pantera!

I am not exaggerating when I say that their shows are the reincarnation of the legendary band itself. You may believe my words or not, however, I would advise you to come and check it out for yourself. Next morning when you wake up with your neck telling you to fuck off and the whole body being unbearably sore – you will know that every moment of the show the previous night was absolutely worth it. “Once you’re into it, you’re into it for a lifetime,” said Darrell. Pantera’s music is the essence of power, metal as pure as it can get and unbreakable unity. DBF tribute delivers it all in the best possible package. They do it from their hearts standing firmly to their beliefs.

So raise your fists in the air for Dimebag is truly beyond forever.

Set-list of the 2009 tour:

1.Cowboys From Hell
2.Psycho Holiday
3.Strength Beyond Strength
4.Mouth For War
6.This Love
7.A New Level
8.5 Minutes Alone
9.The Art of Shredding
10.Pussy Tight ‘88
11.The Great Southern Trendkill
14.Revolution Is My Name
15.I’m Broken
18.Fucking Hostile
19.Cemetery Gates

We would like to thank Nico, Jules and Ville for their time and the rest of the gang for a goddamn electric show. “United and hard we fucking stand.”
finnish dimebag tribute

Photos: Jana Blomqvist
This article was originally written for Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles and posted at

You may not copy, modify or use this interview anywhere without permission.

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