I want to keep this tribute to Jeff Hanneman from Slayer as brief and powerful as their classic album “Reign In Blood” – so sit tight and enjoy the ride.
Slayer are the greatest heavy metal band to ever live, this is not an opinion this is a fact. I’ve always believed that there are two eras of metal before Slayer and after Slayer. Don’t take that claim as a denial of all the great heavy metal history but whether you agree or disagree it’s not important, Slayer is in the DNA of the riff and how heavy metal evolved. One of the few bands that fans of all of the extreme forms of music agree on and one of the only metal bands to remain relevant and true to their musicial vision during their 32 year career.
One of the most important parts of the Slayer sound is the guitar work and songwriting of Jeff Hanneman who unfortunately passed away on the 2nd May 2013 at the age of 49. Not since Dimebag Darrell have I felt this affected by the death of a musician and it is an extreme loss to not just the metal world but the music world as a whole. When you look deep into the Slayer catalogue a lot of what made the band revolutionary came from Jeff Hanneman and a lot of their most important songs were penned by Hanneman (Raining Blood, War Ensemble, South of Heaven, Seasons in the Abyss, Angel of Death and Disciple).
I could talk quite in-depth about the importance of his playing and artistry but I want to save that for my special tribute to Slayer as a band in my Metal Series (The Power of the Riff Compels Me) but I will leave you with this thought. When heavy metal is done well it is as complex and emotional as the classical composers like Beethoven and Mozart. It has the same level of genius inside of it and Slayer as a band are master composers who are modern day radicals and of the same genius that the above mentioned classical composers were attached to. Jeff Hanneman needs to be remembered in that way, as a master composer of music who used darkness and the riff to compose some truly beautiful and evil compositions to help put a mirror up to our humanity and how sometimes you have to riff and scream in order to communicate honestly.
Nothing will send a shiver up my spine the way that riff in Raining Blood, South of Heaven, Seasons In The Abyss and Disciple does and that is how I want to leave you:
South Of Heaven
Seasons In The Abyss
RIP Jeff xo
By: Dan Newton