A Legacy Comes to a Close
Slayer fans face the inevitable end of a great band
Founder of thrash metal and member of the legendary Big Four, Slayer is falling apart piece by piece.
Firstly, they lost their drummer, Dave Lombardo, in the ultimate showing of Mr. Freeze-like tendencies on the part of their guitar player Kerry King, essentially because they wouldn’t pay Lombardo what he was due. Man, that’s cold.
Their reign is truly over, because they have lost their principal and best songwriter. Jeff Hanneman was a founding member of Slayer.
Of every good Slayer song, Hanneman was responsible for it. He wrote the music and lyrics for Angel of Death, he wrote the music with King and the lyrics solely for Raining Blood. Besides Piece by Piece, Hanneman has a song writing credit on every song of the canonical album Reign in Blood.
Ask any relevant metal musician today, and chances are they cut their teeth on this assault on the senses. For me, Reign in Blood was the first truly heavy album I listened to. It was nothing like I had ever heard before, and it opened up a world of a genre for me.
He’s involved in a few other metal staples, including South of Heaven and, probably the best Slayer song off of their best album, Seasons in the Abyss.
Hanneman initially stopped touring due to a spider bite that caused his arm to swell, which meant he couldn’t play like he used to. As his wife, Kathryn Hanneman, said in an interview with Guitar World, “he wasn’t playing up to his ability and that he wasn’t able to play guitar at the speed he was used to. I think that really hit him hard, and he started to lose hope.”
Imagine losing the focal point that you’ve centered your world around.
But, Hanneman didn’t die due to the spider bite; he died of liver failure. Hanneman was known as a life-long drinker, and I’ll bet a month’s wages that he drank harder than before when he saw the band he created touring without him, while he sat at home and couldn’t play the songs he once shook the world with.
Even after his passing, Slayer, on the insistence of Kerry King, and compliancy of other members, has gone on to play festivals like Bloodstock Open Air, and the band is still playing shows here and there.
Without two original members, Slayer is not the band it used to be. It’s a morose resemblance of a former giant that’s now fallen from its throne.
Personally, I think Kerry King doesn’t want to be the first of the Big Four to pack it in. The others in that group are Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax.
Some argue that it doesn’t matter, because they toured without Hanneman before, and everything was hunky dory. What about when it comes to writing the next album? Sure, the band can just ride Hanneman’s legacy, but I don’t think they’ll ever have another strong release under the name Slayer without him.
It’d be the equivalent of the next Megadeth album not having Dave Mustaine, or Iron Maiden without Steve Harris.
Although most fans will probably not accept it, Slayer’s reign is truly over.