Blabbermouth.net is reporting Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman died at about 11 a.m. Thursday at his home in California. Hannemann was 49 years old.
According the Blabbermouth post, which you can read here, Hanneman died of liver failure.
Hanneman had been away from Slayer for a while, while he attempted to recover from a spider bite that had caused serious damage to his arm. According to Blabbermouth, Hanneman was in the hospital for two months undergoing treatment and surgery on his arm.
I won’t claim to be the world’s biggest Slayer fan, but I have a copy of “Reign in Blood” (an album I first purchased when it was first released) and have seen the band in concert. I have the “Still Reigning” DVD at home as well, which rules. A Slayer concert was like no other live show in the world; the energy at those shows was contagious. No other band — Black Sabbath, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Exodus, or anyone else — could match Slayer on stage.
To say the least, this is a big loss to metal. Hannemann (along with band mates Tom Araya, Kerry King and Dave Lombardo), helped create the thrash sound; in some ways, “Reign in Blood” is the ultimate thrash album, in that it took all the intricate riffs of Metallica and the technicality of Megadeth and compressed it into 30 minutes of overwhelming sonic assault. While “South of Heaven” and “Seasons in the Abyss” were also great albums — and while the band had moments of greatness on later albums like “Divine Intervention” and “God Hates Us All,” “Reign In Blood” is the album for which the band will truly be remembered.
Hanneman’s guitar style was unique; too be honest, it was just plain weird. Hanneman and King tortured the most bizarre sounds out of their guitars. Both men had heavy punk influences, and that came out in their frenetic solos.
I guess we’ll find out more later what the future holds for Slayer (although King previously said in an interview posted on Blabbermouth that he would be happy if the band went on with Exodus guitarist Gary Holt, who has been filling in for Hanneman). I imagine there will be a new Slayer album; and while Holt is an amazing guitarist and twisted song-writer, Hanneman’s absence will be felt. We have yet to learn if Hanneman — one of the key members of Slayer — can really be replaced.
Anyway, time will tell. Raise a toast to Jeff Hanneman, if you will. His place in the history and legend of thrash metal is secure. Rest in peace.