Must-Listen: Slayer and Pap Smear Demos Featuring Jeff Hanneman on Vocals
Jeff Hanneman’s untimely demise is a huge loss for the metal community. Was Hanneman the most talented guy in Slayer? Maybe. He wasn’t the best musician. But he was the band’s co-lead guitarist, its best and most prolific writer, and second-best singer.
Yes, singer. No, he never sang on a Slayer album. But most of the better Slayer songs began as demos at Hanneman’s house, including “Raining Blood” — the original idea for that song came to him in a nightmare — and “Angel of Death.” He would record demos on cassette, using a drum machine, and singing along embryonic versions of the lyrics.
Hanneman’s prowess as a vocalist wasn’t anywhere close to Tom Araya’s, but he could get the job done. If he’d played in one of the hardcore bands he loved, he would have made a respectable punk singer.
His demos, once mere rumors, have been posted on YouTube. Also available are the recordings from Pap Smear, the side project he launched with Dave Lombardo and former Suicidal Tendencies guitarist Rocky George, the guy from the early years who wore a Pittsburgh Pirates ballcap. Slayer fans will recognize some of the tunes from the underrated 1996 (mostly) covers album, Undisputed Attitude.
So if you’re missing Hanneman like we are today, take a listen, and hear him like you probably never have before. Start with the Pap Smear demos. Rick Rubin, the producer of Reign in Blood, saw some potential in them, but he strongly suggested that Hanneman pull the plug on the project, because good side-groups tend to break bands up. You may recognize the titles of some of the other tracks, but they all changed substantially between Hanneman’s bedroom and the studio.
D.X. Ferris is the author of 33 1/3: Reign in Blood, the first English-language book about Slayer, which is available cheap in hard copies, for the Kindle machines, and now as an audio book on Audible! (He’s been know to send bonus swag in exchange for a proof of purchase.) You can friend it on the Facebook, or follow his bullshit daily on the Tweeters: @dxferris and @SlayerBook.