Former PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS guitarist Marzi Montazeri has accused Philip Anselmo of "ripping off" EXHORDER frontman Kyle Thomas's vocal style.
In the 1990s, Marzi hooked up with SUPERJOINT RITUAL, with Anselmo as lead vocalist, and appeared on the band's first two demos. By March of 2010, Marzi rejoined forces with Anselmo to work on what became Philip's first solo project since PANTERA, PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS. Marzi recorded THE ILLEGALS' debut album, "Walk Through Exits Only", and toured with the band before exiting the group in November 2015. Two years later, Marzi joined Louisiana metal veterans EXHORDER, who are cited by many as the originators of the riff-heavy power-groove approach popularized by PANTERA.
Asked in a new interview with "The Classic Metal Show" how he would compare the experience of working with Anselmo to playing with Thomas, Marzi said (hear audio below): "Well, they're both very talented people. But I will tell you this, from working with both of 'em: they're both very intelligent people.
"Kyle Thomas is an original. He is entirely original. His voice, his presentation, his lyrics, the way he writes — everything about Kyle Thomas is an original.
"I love Phil," he continued. "I worked with Phil, and I enjoyed working with Phil. Phil, at his best, is imitating Kyle. So there lies this pretentiousness about him. And I'm only saying this because you asked me about the experience.
"I walked into it knowing… Regardless of what his demeanor may be, all this stuff — I get it; I get the 'tough-guy' thing; I get it," Marzi said. "But put all that aside, man — put that act aside — and what you're gonna end up getting is someone pretending to be someone else. Kind of like David Lee Roth did with Jim Dandy. David Lee Roth did a great job at it. And Phil, with PANTERA, did the same thing. He did Kyle, at that time, better than Kyle did. He ripped off his style, his vocal style… 'cause he was doing Rob Halford stuff back then, when he first joined PANTERA. And when 'Cowboys [From Hell]' came, he wanted to be in EXHORDER so bad, he went back and said, 'We're gonna sound like these guys.' And he took it, simplified it, and [they] became the biggest band in the world. But the formula was that. Again, I'm not bashing no one — I'm just telling you the truth… I mean, did they write great records? Did they write great songs? Shit, yes, they did. Is [late PANTERA guitarist] Dimebag the greatest metal guitar player? Goddamn right. He was my best friend. He was PANTERA. His style, his lead playing is just unmatched, man — unmatched.
"So that's basically the gist of it. One is completely an original and influenced by a hell of a lot, but the other is trying to be the original, and doing a really good job imitating him, but in the end, it's just one guy trying to be somebody else."
Asked if he thinks Anselmo's vocal approach in DOWN was also influenced by Thomas's singing style in Kyle's post-EXHORDER band FLOODGATE, Marzi said: "Man… [Laughs] Okay, yes. Yes, absolutely, man. Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. When you have the ability to do things, and then you see something else happen, you take it. Some people don't care if they rip something off. In fact, they're blatant about it. There's a riff on [PANTERA's] 'Vulgar Display Of Power' that he" — presumably referring to Dimebag — "played for me, and when he played it, I looked at him and I said, 'Man, that sure sounds a lot like HELMET.' And he goes, 'Where do you think I ripped it off from?' He boldly told me that. And the guy from HELMET, he took him to the back of the bus and he played that riff for him, and he had to get up and leave. The dude from HELMET just got up and left, 'cause he was, like, 'Wow! I can't fucking believe this.' It wasn't like an homage; it was a blatant ripoff. Like, 'This works, so I'm just gonna take it, because I'm at a point right now, no matter what I do, people think I'm coming up with it.' So, that's just a game being played. And at the end of the day, truth comes out, good music comes out, and stuff like that. And I'm not discrediting anyone. But you're asking honest opinions about comparisons."
Marzi went on to say that very few bands in Louisiana, where Anselmo still lives, truly have their own sound and style.
"From Louisiana, there's only a couple of bands that you can say are original," he said. "The rest of 'em are imitating other bands. They say it; they admit it."
Back in 2013, Anselmo denied that EXHORDER was a major influence on PANTERA's sound, telling Examiner.com: "It's absolutely untrue. EXHORDER was a killer band, don't get me wrong. And for their time in the local scene in New Orleans in 1988, as far as skill level, they really upped the game for everyone. To this day, I'm still really good friends with their singer, who is now the singer for TROUBLE. Kyle and I come from the same school of heavy metal vocals — Rob Halford, Don Doty from DARK ANGEL, and Tom Araya — so there are similarities between us, but musically, I don't hear it at all."
In a November 2015 interview with the "Do You Know Jack?" radio show, Marzi claimed that he "found out through the Internet" that he was no longer a member of PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS. He also seemed to close the door on one day collaborating with Anselmo again in some capacity, saying: "As far as making music goes, I would say it's more of a sad event that him and I can't collaborate. But, man, let me tell you something: I'm not a follower, I'm a leader. And that's that."
Around the same time, Anselmo told MetalUnderground.com about THE ILLEGALS' split with Montazeri: "What I wanted to do with Marzi was jumpstart his career, which I did. He's the type of guy that needs to be the focal point of pretty much anything he does. So he's got that now and I'm happy for him. More power to him."
**UPDATE**: After this article was first posted earlier today, Marzi took to his Facebook page to write: "Just fukn wow man! I literally finished doing a what I thought was a killer interview about Heavy As Texas debut where I discussed it in detail but minutes after I hang up one portion is blasted on Blabbermouth as if that was the whole interview and no mention of the debut!! All the positive I talked in it was not mentioned at all yet they went for the headliner/bait!! Can't say I'm that shocked though!! One thing is this shit starting is their thing not mine! I was asked a question and I honestly answers it if feelings are hurt then maybe those parties need to check themselves cuz I ain't sorry fir being me!!! Not making everyone happy is a great accomplishment!"