In Memory of Jeff Hanneman
1964-2013
by: Aly Hassab El Naby
The Chronicles of Chaos staff remembers Jeff Hanneman with a few words

Aly Hassab El Naby:

On the 2nd of May, 2013, thrash metal legends Slayer announced the passing of founder and guitarist Jeff Hanneman due to liver failure. Hanneman had had some serious health issues that prevented him from even picking up a guitar; quite a heavy situation to say the least, since this was what he did for a living. Hanneman's unfortunate death at the early age of 49 is a very sad moment for metal all around the world given Slayer's exemplary status as a metal band and his own status as an influential artist.

I've never held a guitar for more than five minutes in my life, but I could always see from live footage that this man was a master of his craft. He was never as flashy as his long-time cohort Kerry King and he never gave as many interviews. His demeanor was that of a professional, yet the enjoyment on his face as he stepped up on stage and thrashed away was as raw as ever.

When a friend of mine told me that Hanneman was dead, I just couldn't believe it. I thought for a second there that he was playing a cruel and unfunny joke. Then I started to think about it for a few seconds and things slowly and irreversibly sunk in. I gradually thought about the consequences of this unfortunate demise and it really hit me when I thought for a second that this could be the end of Slayer. For a second there, I thought that no one will ever get the chance to see Slayer live again. I also realized that I'll probably never see Slayer at all. Quite the blow, since Slayer's "Raining Blood" and Lombardo's master-class performance on it was what initially prompted me to pick up a pair of sticks and try to copy him.

I have no idea how Tom Araya and Kerry King are going to proceed in the future and I don't know where they are regarding the recent row with Dave Lombardo. All I know is that this legendary band has lost one of its pillars and that is a massive turning point of Slayer, and for metal as a whole.

Dan Lake:

You'll think it's no strange thing that I had a strong reaction to Jeff Hanneman's passing. A lot of people did, and this is a metal site, after all. The music we celebrate grabs us by the guts, then catapults us beyond the body and past such superficial boundaries as gravity and mortality; the occasional reminders that the musicians themselves are not eternal cut quick wounds, and deep. I received the news in an email from a colleague, and everything went quiet, and I did little but breathe for the next several minutes. You'll think it's no strange thing, but I sure thought so.

I don't listen to Slayer much. Oh, I have, but my introduction to metal came much later than the band's late '80s trifecta perfecta, and their permeating foundation in thrash never really held my interest. I spin _Reign in Blood_ once in a while, or go back to select songs from _South_ and _Seasons_, but that's more from a sense of duty than a longing to bang along with Tom and the gang. Which means my reaction is a pose, right? That I felt a sense of loss because I was supposed to?

Maybe, but I hope not. That would make me kin to the dick in West Asshole, Mississippi who stocked up on Spam and Budweiser a dozen Septembers ago because he "felt the effects" of the airplane hijackings that wreaked havoc along the East Coast. I have no part in this event, no vested interest, so I'm just faking emotions for the sake of scene solidarity. I guess I might be that guy, but I fucking hope not.

I think I felt the snapping of a historical throughline from the world. Wow, that sentence is a fat steaming pile of pretension. What I mean is that Hanneman and Slayer represent a musical paradigm shift whose effects cannot be limited to those for whom Slayer is a weekly routine. Anyone who plays heavy and fast has heard it and in some way includes or reacts against that visceral, punk-fueled aggression. To some degree the Slayer sound has become a gene marker embedded in the structure of everything that has come after. As in biology, the gene can be turned on or off, but it is a presence that continues to be passed down from parent to genre child without fail. And as pompous as it might sound, we cannot constrain Hanneman's impact to metal alone. The culture has assimilated Slayer, acknowledges it as one facet in its 20th century evolution, so nothing in the popular mindset post-1990 truly exists without an awareness of that feral specter. But while being the stuff of legend, all of it still existed in the present. Hanneman's death, like Dio's before it, coldly shears our own lives into mutually exclusive future and history, and the associated emotions are uncomfortable and difficult to grapple with. Tom and Kerry and Dave (yeah, fuck all y'all) will live on a while, but for many, Slayer is now well and truly history.

I won't pretend that Hanneman's death dealt me some profound personal blow. But I won't deny that I've spent some time thinking about it. To paraphrase the overworked Mr. Thomas: for all that we rage against the dying of the light, ungentle though we go, we each will arrive at our own dark good night.

Aaron McKay:

While I have seen Slayer many times, it is the show at Lakeland Coliseum in Florida on July 13, 1991 that stands out impressively in my mind and, dare I say, for damn good reason, too. It was at that show, during the Clash of the Titans tour -- Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer -- that Tom Araya, Kerry King, Dave Lombardo and, of course, Jeff Hanneman, decided to record what would become disc one of the outstandingly savage _Decade of Aggression_ live CD.

I have borne witness to Slayer's live concert sonic assault time and again, but always with the dual guitar attack of Hanneman and King -- never, for instance, a Gary Holt or Pat O'Brienon on guitar. The King / Hanneman pairing is a sacrosanct (un)holy musical union upon the shoulders of which untold and countless metal bands have built their sound or derived their inspiration. With the loss of Jeff Hanneman, half of that marvelous paired guitar phenomenon has gone on now before the rest of us; from my perspective, Mr. Hanneman's time came far too soon. We, in mass and multitudes and in reflection and solitude, can think upon and console our longing remembrance(s) with the notion of comfort that Jeff Hanneman's bedrock contributions to metal that will continue to inspire, embolden, encourage, provoke and enthuse for immeasurable generations to come.

Remembering passionately buying my first _Hell Awaits_ tape in the early to mid part of 1985, it is _Decade of Aggression_ that memory now dutifully summons up. Standing in the Lakeland Coliseum, many years after discovering Slayer's profound influence, surrounded by friends, fans, devotees, metal brothers and sisters and countless Florida based band members all in attendance witnessed this now historic event. By varying levels of understanding, each person there submitted that Slayer is an experience -- much more than just a mere collection of four talented musicians. Not even the sum of the band's membership or the music Slayer created or even the chaos of their live show, but instead it is a spirit of undeniable defiance toward any pacification of this mortal coil.

To unapologetically sponge a phrase from "Macbeth", Jeff Hanneman is now to "strut and fret one's hour upon the stage" in advance of the rest of his fellow band mates. While Mr. Hanneman will forever be sorely missed, his crucial and fundamental contributions, as well as his tireless promotion of the metal cause, will ceaselessly dwell in every heart and mind of any soul touched by the Slayer experience.

(article submitted 8/6/2013)


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