Woah, I was about to close up shop for the night and then found out that integral Slayer co-founder Jeff Hanneman died today of liver failure. He’d been battling necrotizing fasciitis for some time and it is unknown at this time as to whether the two were related.
Slayer is one of those bands that transcend the genre they are a part of and become part of the cultural lexicon. After all, it is common wisdom that if there is a gathering of hippies growing dangerously out of control, you need to use Slayer to disperse them. Commonly found to be paired with the hook ’em horns gesture that signifies the love of metal, the name conjures up images of fast, brutal thrash metal. They (OK, along with maybe a scant few others) were the key guiding force behind the formation of death and black metal; it is hard – maybe impossible – to imagine the current, sprawling metal underground without them. Hanneman was arguably the man that brought the real intensity of hardcore punk rock to the world of metal; he favoured technical brutality and had the logo for the legendary Dead Kennedys emblazoned on his guitar. The line between the two milieus blurred considerably during his career, to the benefit of everyone involved. His work became a touchstone on both sides, and his influence is felt in all sorts of random places throughout the musical universe. So, in that spirit, here are five songs he wrote that changed the world of heavy music forever.
BANG YOUR HEAD.
“RAINING BLOOD” – From Reign In Blood, 1986.
The final track of the blistering, epoch-defining hardcore workout that stands as perhaps the finest metal album ever created.
“CHEMICAL WARFARE” – From Haunting The Chapel, 1984.
Speed-of-light thrash that borrows a name from the brilliant DK song of the same name. The sheer relentlessness of this song ensures its immortality.
“SOUTH OF HEAVEN” – From South Of Heaven, 1988.
A key indicator of growth in the Slayer canon – an eerie mid-tempo riff that slowly builds into a crushing finale.
“SEASONS IN THE ABYSS” – From Seasons In The Abyss, 1990.
That lengthy intro. That creepy clean riff behind all the crunching chords. That break that kicks the tempo in the ass and keeps it running. Close your eyes and forget your name.
“ANGEL OF DEATH” – From Reign In Blood, 1986.
This song is the aural equivalent of being pummeled by a flurry of body blows from a trained boxer – it’s probably the best metal song ever recorded, and it might just be the best kick-off to any heavy album ever recorded. It’s a fitting song to crank to 11 as you celebrate the life and times of a heavy music legend.
Goddammit, I’m growing old.