Today metal fans across the globe were shocked at the sudden news of Jeff Hanneman's death. Ever since he seemingly disappeared from the public's eye during his bout with necrotizing fasciitis, we still hoped that eventually everything would be back to normal, and we'd have our Slayer back.
New album. New tour. Original members.
After all, Slayer…f*cking SLAYER…is something that is set in stone. Never ending and forever. A pioneering band that not only helped spawn thrash, but created riffs that would in turn create hundreds of bands looking to recreate that sound.
That SOUND. Holy sh*t. You know it when you hear it. The Slayer sound. The four ingredients to that sonic brutality were Araya, Hanneman, King, and Lombardo, all key factors in establishing a solid foundation of metal in its purest form. Bold, scary, and completely kick-ass.
Reign In Blood came out a full year before I gained my thrash wings. I had broke ground as a Slayer fan with South of Heaven, but before I bought the now classic album, I remember being vaguely afraid of Slayer. Afraid? Scared? Okay, that sounds a bit melodramatic, but I definitely saw them as an ominous group of musicians…the kind from which I should probably stay far away.
At least that was my perception at the time. At 15 years-old, I was deep into Metallica, living and breathing Master of Puppets, and had just picked up Suicidal Tendencies' How Will I Laugh Tomorrow…? album. D.R.I.'s 4 of a Kind had hit, and there was no turning back for me. I wanted faster and heavier!
South of Heaven had been released, and I still remained a curious arm-length's distance away. It wasn't until a TV commercial aired, containing a snippet of Slayer playing the album's title track, that made me turn my head and say, "I want that!"
I want that…the Slayer SOUND. Stemming from Show No Mercy and Hell Awaits, perfected with Reign In Blood, and grew to unstoppable proportions with South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss.
Four ingredients. One sound.
The sound that influenced multitudes of thrash and death metal bands. Would early Sepultura sound the same without Slayer? Would the breakdown in Dead Embryonic Cells exist without the blueprint from Raining Blood?
Sorry. Retreading the impact Slayer has on metal would be reiterating the obvious, but it's still hard not to go down that path. However, it's impressive that Slayer remains a viable and thriving influence after 30-plus years. Especially for a type of music that was never intended to achieve more than underground status.
But this type of music did bust out of the underground. After all, we have the Big Four. Some folks look at the "Big Four" concept as a bit cheesy, but I sure as hell don't. The four biggest selling thrash bands from back in the heyday of metal are monuments of what was a f*cking awesome time to be a metal head.
Slayer was one of those four bands. Hanneman, as one of the four members of Slayer, was important to the sound and legacy of thrash metal as we know it today. He will be missed, but the sound he helped create lives stronger than ever today in the many, many bands influenced by Slayer.
Slayer. Set in stone. Never ending and forever.
Thanks for the music, Jeff.