May 062013

Slayer logoJeff Hanneman, the lead guitarist of Slayer passed away last week.

Slayer was one of the first thrash bands I became aware of back in early 1986. Hell Awaits had recently been released, and it got quite a lot of air time in Radio City’s Hevitaivas (the only show that played metal). After the rather safer Metallica and Megadeth, Slayer was something rawer, something far more vicious. Something that seemed to exceed the listening norms of my schoolmates. Hence, as I had quite a backlog to acquire, I somehow missed the release of their seminal Reign in Blood album, and lost touch with the band for a while. But got re-acquainted with South of Heaven in 1988 (now loaded with summer job cash, new albums became a weekly thing) – the band had slowed down, but lost none of their intensity. My interest in the band peaked with Seasons in the Abyss and I lost touch with them once again. This time pretty much for good, the newer albums somehow disagreed with me.

Saw Slayer live in 1998. The gig still clocks in as the loudest concert I’ve been to. Tried removing earplugs for a couple of songs towards the end of the concert, and was assailed by such a volume that the plugs went back in quickly indeed.

The bandmembers of Slayer were strangely distant. Apart from Dave Lombardo’s frequent departures and rearrivals, the rest of them were nowhere as vocal as the likes of Hetfield and Mustaine. Jeff Hanneman I knew as one of the most incomprehensible soloists in the metal world and of his interest in wartime Germany. The former gave us plenty of unimitable songs, the latter gave us Angel of Death – a sadly misunderstood true thrash metal classic. The third ascpect that I dimly recalled was his infatuation with Heineken, proven to be common knowledge in the pictures his fans posted in the Drink A Beer In Honor Of Jeff Hanneman event last Saturday.