What’s next for Slayer?

Slayer are one of the so called ‘big four’ – an elite group of four thrash/heavy metal bands alongside Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, who pioneered the genre in early eighties. In February drummer and founding member Dave Lombardo was left out of their tour due to a pay dispute and eventually was fired for the third time from the band. Meanwhile guitarist Jeff Hanneman was struggling with his health after contracting necrotising fasciitis, before sadly dying of liver failure in May.

Now a very different Slayer lines up with exodus guitarist Gary Holt and replacement drummer Paul Bostaph, alongside original members Kerry King and Tom Araya. There have been mentions of Slayer calling it a day, with Araya questioning his reasons to continue, posing the question “why am I doing this now?”. However, this has been countered with Bostaph calling quitting ‘weak’ and King explaining the need to continue for both financial and sentimental reasons.

Slayer seem to have chosen to continue; with a new album already in the works. In August Araya said they would be including two of Hanneman’s unreleased songs on the new album, with potentially more after they had gone through all of his riffs and ideas. However, King has recently stated that Hanneman’s unreleased material will remain that way, as he “doesn’t want the last thing for people to hear from Jeff to be mediocre”.

Whilst I completely echo the sentiment that a musician’s unreleased work should only ever be released posthumously if previously stated that it could (see my previous blog: https://rockatlantic.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/are-you-experienced/ ), Araya had confirmed that one of the songs was complete and was revealed to the other members with every intention of it being included on a new album.

If Hanneman’s contribution is to be cut from any forthcoming record, it only makes sense that the new guitarist Gary Holt, who had the late guitarists blessing to play for Slayer whilst he was ill, is allowed to take on an active role in the songwriting process. However, King was also quick to dismiss this notion, stating that the “fans aren’t ready” for Holt’s creative input.

However, why should fans settle for an album written solely by King, when previous albums have seen writing duties split almost half and half, with Hanneman even writing all but one song on their 1998 effort ‘Diabolus in Musica’. From Holt’s work in Exodus it is clear he can write good music, and if he has ideas to bring to the table, it can surely do no harm.

Regardless of who ends up contributing creatively toward their eleventh studio album, it will surely define the new look band going forward. I hope that King and Araya can come to an agreement on whether to include Hanneman’s material and that the new band members get their chance to put a stamp on Slayer’s future output, because without Hanneman their sound will surely change anyway.

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