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In Memoriam: Jeff Hanneman (1964-2013)

Today the world says goodbye to Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman.

Slayer are, as I mentioned in my History of Metal, the one group in thrash’s “Big Four” that seem to have maintained the highest level of credibility among listeners throughout the decades since their emergence. Their raw sound, disturbing lyrics, frantic tempos, and chaotic solos might keep all but the pathologically curious at bay, and I must admit my own appreciation for Slayer came rather late; but I for one eventually learned their sound is not raw as much as it is genuine, their lyrics are not disturbing as much as they are revealing, their tempos not frantic but exhilarating, and their solos…well, I can’t tell how calculated they are, but I cannot imagine that anything more polished sounding would seem appropriate in the context of their songs.

I was first exposed to Slayer when the bassist in my high school band suggested we learn “Skeletons of Society.” We rehearsed it, but never got to perform it. Many years later, I would suggest to the members of Avengers Assemble! that we prepare “Seasons in the Abyss” as a set-opener. Could there be any better song to open a club show? Hardly.

We must all rock considerably harder to fill the void left by Hanneman’s departure.

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