RIP Jeff Hanneman

Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman died yesterday, aged 49. I’m quite a big fan of that thrash metal band so his passing is quite a loss, particularly as he contributed to a lot of their classic songs.

I first heard Slayer in ’94 from a lent cassette, a couple of years after I had gotten into the genre from more mainstream albums. I actually didn’t like Divine Intervention that much as it was a bit too crazy for me then, and that album wasn’t particularly well-produced despite some good songs. But I remember enjoying reading about them in Kerrang! magazine (I often just used to read my favourite articles in the newsagent and not buy it!) so they stayed on my radar.

I bypassed the rest of their 90s albums and got really into them since God Hates Us All in 2001, and as I had ‘got them’ at this point, I followed them on to this today and collected their back catalogue. I wish someone introduced me to Reign In Blood earlier as I would’ve been a fan quicker. I only got to see them live once on the Christ Illusion tour.

Slayer isn’t for everyone. You really have to like thrash metal to enjoy most of their stuff, whereas Metallica, and even a sizeable amount of Megadeth is agreeable to even casual listeners. The thing about Slayer is breakneck speed, really macabre lyrics, and some really classic riffs. If you ever hear the main riff of Raining Blood you can’t disrespect that; it’s almost the protégé of In The Hall Of The Mountain King.

Of course, Hanneman’s death probably isn’t the death of Slayer (though with the at-least-temporary booting of drummer Dave Lombardo I’m not sure my interest could be sustained), but his passing is a great loss to the whole genre of heavy metal.
If it wasn’t for him and Kerry King we wouldn’t get to hear music that is the equivalent of going on a rollercoaster through hell. That’s an attraction I never grew out of. There are more extreme bands but Slayer take it to the limit while remaining listenable.

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