The rigors of graduate school have kept me from posting much here as of late, and unfortunately it seems that when I get the chance, it is to comment on the death of a great musician. As most of you reading this blog probably know, Jeff Hanneman, one of the founding members of Slayer, died last week from liver failure. Hanneman had not been playing with Slayer for the past 2 years after being bitten by a spider and contracting necrotizing fasciitis on his right arm. There was some speculation that the liver failure was a complication of the spider bite, however the coroner’s report confirmed that it was due to alcohol-related cirrhosis. So just like with Jason Molina 2 months ago, alcohol has taken the life of another luminary.
Having only started to listen to metal about 4 years ago, I certainly did not grow up listening to Slayer. Despite only recently coming to appreciate the band (and the genre), I was fortunate enough to see them play twice before Hanneman contracted necrotizing fasciitis and was forced to stop playing with them. At both of those shows, Slayer sounded just as vital on stage as they did on all of their classic albums, which is not something that can be said about all of their peers (Megadeth). As with many other fans, I was patiently waiting for Hanneman to surmount his health troubles and get back out on tour, as he was an essential part of what made Slayer so great. Unfortunately, that is not going to be happening anymore.
It goes without saying that Hanneman’s mark on the world of metal has been immense. He was a devoted fan to hardcore punk and managed to bring that spirit to Slayer’s music, helping to form thrash metal. Being one of the band’s primary song writers, he was responsible for writing most of Slayer’s signature songs like “Angel of Death,” “Raining Blood,” and “South of Heaven.” I imagine that Slayer will continue to play without Hanneman (after all, they have been for 2 years), but things will not be the same without him.
The metal world has lost a legend. Thanks for all the music, Jeff.