Slayer founding member, guitarist and songwriter Jeff Hanneman dead at 49.
Metal fans and musicians the world over were shaken yesterday at the unexpected news that Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman, died of liver failure at the young age of 49.
The news came via a press release from the band:
“Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning near his Southern California home. Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry, and will be sorely missed.”
No cause has yet been reported, so its unknown if it’related to his contracting necrotising fasciitis by a spider bite in 2011. The results required hospitalization, surgery and skin grafts.
Hanneman’s love of both classic metal and hardcore punk influenced his style of brutally fast and blazing metal riffs and solos. The combination of his playing with guitarist Kerry King made for one of the most unusual dual guitar lineups in rock history. Slayer’s music often defied harmonic convention, introducing inventive uses of atonality.
Slayer exploded into the metal world with their Rick Rubin produced seminal metal album “Reign In Blood’, which is considered one of the fastest and heaviest albums of all time.
In addition to their intimidating sound, their controversial subject matter revolving around serial killers, nazism and attacks on organized religion made them a lightning rod for groups like The PMRC and the religious right. But with Slayer, it always seems like it was done with a knowing wink. They were the musical equivalent of a horror movie; its frightening yet makes you feel alive.
The band refined their sound in later releases like “South of Heaven”, “Seasons Of The Abyss“, and have been active in recent years with brutal releases like “God Hates Us All”, and “World Painted Blood.”
I can’t confess to being the biggest Slayer fan. Their sound overwhelmed my ears on many occasions. But to deny their influence, stature and sonic legacy would be doing a disservice. And Hanneman was a key architect who deserves his legacy in the heavy metal pantheon.
2013 is proving to be a year of big losses in the metal community. Between Hannemann, Deftones bassist Chi Cheng and Ministry guitarist Mike Scaccia, we’ve had many sobering reminders that life is an unpredictable experience, marked by triumph and tragedy.
R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman, 1964-2013.
Here’s my favorite Slayer/Hanneman penned song: