Question Of The Week: No Slayer For The Dying?
In the coming weeks, Slayer is expected to announce their first album since the death of founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman. As with any band that’s lost a key contributor, Slayer is in a bind. Unlike most bands, Slayer may not bother to acknowledge the situation at all. And that’s fair; after all, writing for the upcoming album began long before Hanneman’s passing. The new material might have been nailed down before that sad day. But maybe Hanneman’s presence will be felt on Slayer’s new stuff. For now, we know that two usable Hanneman tracks exist, but mostly we can only guess, hope, and dread. Let’s do all three in today’s Question Of The Week! It is authored by our bud, Slayer scholar D.X. Ferris!
Inspired by two major changes to the Slayer line-up and an approaching album announcement, we asked our staff:
So, what are your expectations for the next record by Slayer?
Are there no second acts in American metal? Jump in below!
Expectations? I try not to rely on those too much, especially when my heart got crushed earlier this year by the death of my favorite musician. But here’s what I hope. I hope the album is a tribute to Jeff Hanneman. I hope Slayer uses his death as the primary inspiration and subject matter of the album; Hate Eternal did that — looked inward at their tragedy — and crafted maybe their best record. I hope the record is reminiscent of Jeff’s playing (dark brooding melodies, strange atonal moments) and loves (war). I hope Kerry King doesn’t just write a bunch of Satan- or tough guy-based fantasies. I hope Dave Lombardo and the rest of them realize that life’s too short, money is bullshit, and they should reconcile and make one last record. And that’s my biggest hope of all: I hope that this is the last Slayer record. And I hope it’s good.
Absolutely none. R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman.
Wow, good question! I expect an unsentimental Kerry King to release a good but unadventurous Slayer album. It will likely bear a dedication to Jeff Hanneman’s memory, but in King’s place, I’d take the opportunity to go further: I’d set a new goal to create an album that expresses Hanneman’s story somehow. That’s a richer subject than war, religion, and murder. That’s inspiration.
I know this is going to be a controversial opinion, but I think they were at their best when they had Blaze Bayley singing for them so idk, I am not expecting much now that Neil Turbin fronting the band again. That said, I am looking forward to hearing what the addition of a DJ will bring to their signature brand of djent! [Follow Sergeant D on Instagram @sergeantd]
Well, at best, it’ll use some of the skeletal riffs left by Hanneman, and the rest of Slayer will pick up the slack. Keep in mind that Hanneman wrote ‘Playing with Dolls’ from their last record, so he didn’t leave at the top of his game. But it stands to reason that the new Slayer album will be at least pretty good. Of course, if Kerry King takes the reins… oof. Not only is that guy a walking Jagerbomb, but a nu-metal tumor has eaten the part of his brain that writes anything decent.
DAVID LEE ROTHMUND
Three-quarters of Slayer is better than no Slayer. (Yeah, Hanneman is a god, but Lombardo’s absence is no big deal.) Each Slayer album stands alone as a monolith of thrash. Even polarizing ones like God Hates Us All are fucking classic in my book. And I expect no less, even though Hanneman is gone — and that’s one hell of a loss. I’ll be a Slayer fan until they’re all in nursing homes.
Guest: D.X. FERRIS, author of 331/3: Slayer’s Reign In Blood
First, I’d like to see Slayer do what Metallica did when Jason Newsted joined the band: Record an EP of cover songs to ease in Gary Holt as a full-fledged member of the band, who writes and records with the group. Second, from what Slayer have said in various interviews, they’ve written almost an album worth of material. They’ve never been a band that records more than they need to — but I’d like to see them write more material, with input from Holt. After all, Holt has a writing credit on every original Exodus song, and he is a certified ass-kicker.
Third, I want some genuine production, not just engineering: I’d like to see Rick Rubin join the band in the studio, as a hands-on producer, full-time, like he used to during the days of the unholy triology of Def/Jam/American classic albums from Reign in Blood through Seasons in the Abyss. He was able to drop what he was doing to give Kayne West two weeks of his time. I know Slayer’s not as lucrative a proposition, but they’re his oldest client. They deserve the time and effort. I don’t know if they’d be receptive. But at this crucial point in the band’s history, it would be nice if they got some outside feedback. Fourth, I’d like to see a new, different kind of engineer: Kurt Ballou, someone closer to the street level, who can pull a genuinely different sound out of them.
That’s what I want to see. What do I expect? From what they’ve said so far, I think they’ll use everything that Hanneman left behind. And that’s a good thing. Maybe I’m being cynical, but I don’t see them letting Holt play on the album, despite his years filling Hanneman’s role, playing Slayer songs, and internalizing the band’s general vibe — not to mention his own unique qualifications. This is a guess, but I think they’ll play up Rubin’s role as a process and maybe list him as producer, not just executive producer, as he has been on recent records. I think it’s an opportunity to let the band’s sound expand — if not grow and evolve. But I suspect we’ll get Divine Intervention II: an album dominated by King, with credits by the Grammy-winning Araya and Hanneman. And I think they’ll let Paul Bostaph have a writing credit or two, if only to make a point about how valuable they say he is as they move forward with this next chapter of the band’s history.