Lately there’s been a saying going around that Dave Mustaine is the Godfather Of Thrash Metal. Actually though the same argument can be made for the late great Jeff Hanneman who died four years ago this week. It would’ve been interesting to be a fly on the wall when Jeff showed up to a rehearsal with his new band that would eventually be called Slayer, and told the members of his vision to mix Hardcore Punk, and Heavy Metal music together for a faster, more aggressive approach. Even pushing drummer Dave Lombardo to play faster than he ever had, eventually giving him a style all his own. By the time Slayer started making records really no other band sounded like them. Especially by the time they got to their now legendary record “Reign In Blood” that had much more of a hardcore punk influence, than that of Heavy Metal. Doing the exact opposite of what most of their peers were doing.
It also would’ve been interesting how Jeff’s Hardcore Punk side project “Pap Smear” would’ve done. Apparently the songs were so good from that project that he was talked out of it by Producer Rick Rubin, because he feared it could hurt Slayer. Being the team player he always was, he abandoned the project, never getting past the demo stage. All through the 80s, and 90s Jeff would be the most prolific songwriter of the band, also inventing some of the greatest guitar riffs put onto tape.
It still is a huge shock how he got sick by being stung by a spider while in a friends hot tub. His last days were obviously very tormented dealing with netrotizing fasciitis, a flesh eating disease that spreads rapidly that can basically shut down your organs. It would be an infection that would shock everyone close to him at how fast things would deteriorate. It also wasn’t easy on Jeff in the last days of his life to see Slayer continue without him which also affected him deeply. In fact at one point everyone thought he was gonna beat the illness, but took a turn to the worse when he died of liver failure on May 2, 2013.
Musically Jeff’s legacy is pretty secure. I still think he gets overlooked by the likes of Darrell Abbott, and as I mentioned earlier Dave Mustaine. In reality though when you really look at his body of musical work as a whole it’s very impressive, and also can’t overlook the fact that he was a pioneering figure in what is now known as the “Thrash” genre. Kerry King and Tom Araya can continue to call the band they are in “Slayer”. For me personally though, no Jeff Hanneman, no Slayer. He more than any of them was responsible for the now legendary sound they made.
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