SLAYER - Jeff Hanneman R.I.P.; BraveWords From David Perri
May 8, 2013, a year ago
BraveWords staff members remember the late SLAYER guitar legend Jeff Hanneman who tragically passed away suddenly on May 2nd.
By David Perri
In the pantheon of metal's split, subjugated and sometimes stitched-together cornucopia of subgenres, there is one band that rallies everyone, no matter your particular allegiance: SLAYER. Get a group of at-war metal factions together and the entire hostility and hyperbole just ends, completely, as the iconic intro to 'Raining Blood' begins. Suddenly, the kultest of the kult and the deadliest of death no longer care that De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Left Hand Path were, at one time, deemed utterly and unfathomably incompatible... for those few minutes, Slayer is in the air ("SLAYER!") and that's all that matters.
And Jeff Hanneman, taken far too soon at only the age of 49, was hugely responsible for that. Having written some of Slayer's most important and influential tracks, including 'Raining Blood', 'War Ensemble', 'South Of Heaven', 'Seasons In The Abyss' and 'Angel Of Death', Hanneman bestowed metal with many of its most intangibly visceral moments, these songs anthems for, literally, generations of the metal faithful who will never lower the charred, pentagram flag.
Though I only spoke to Hanneman twice, both times on the phone, he was a true gentleman who genuinely believed in Slayer and passionately believed in metal. His laid-back and affable nature was impressive given his band's massive, global appeal and his excitement for Slayer's past and future was evident. He was especially proud that Slayer had never sold out or bowed down to trends; indeed, his band's iron-clad allegiance to thrash and its original raison d'être has made it the most steadfast, and steadfastly furious, of the Big 4.
But what struck me most about those conversations is that Hanneman happily even indulged questions about my earliest Slayer memories. I remember being a wide-eyed 11 year old and seeing those Dead Kennedys logos that adorned Hanneman's guitars on Much Music's Power 30 metal show after school, and when I told Hanneman about the experience we chatted about the influence of that band on Hanneman's career and playing. Hanneman told me that he was always impressed by the short amount of space between the songs on Dead Kennedys vinyl, a sure indication that the tracks would be fast.
And now, Jeff Hanneman's legacy will live on through the timeless thrash he has left us with. Slayer will always be the pillar in every metal subgenre, and Hanneman's riffs are the central reason for that. Here's hoping he's now on stage again again, pain free, somewhere south of heaven.
Read "Metal" Tim's tribute here and Martin Popoff's here.