“1986’s Reign In Blood is probably the best thrash album ever recorded” – Chad Bowtar. The only problem with that sentence is the single word “probably”.
Non-Thrash music lovers will even agree too, Reign In Blood is a masterpiece that time will never fade. The sheer clean power of the album marked equally by astonishing production (Rick Rubin) and audibly fast precise instrument abuse (Araya / King / Hanneman / Lombardo – Slayer). The album works as a whole like all albums should. Lyrics that twist and turn make the listener uncomfortable and feel totally alive at the same time.
Power and art in music. Boundaries not just pushed but smashed apart. Rule books torn up. Musical genres crossed over like they never existed in the first place. Punk. Hardcore. Heavy Metal. Experimental. Classical Music. Slayer walk these genres like no other band.
Jeff Hanneman’s physical guitar was adorned with worn stickers of the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, the Sex Pistols and more (from memory) yet Slayer sound like none of these bands. Taking inspiration and turning it into something new, fresh – that’s what Slayer did.
The band rarely did interviews, probably as a result of their songs being examined too closely for controversial subject matter which they clearly never endorsed. There is a shock factor to Slayer but the substance behind the shock is rock solid. I always figured Slayer provoked thought lyrically and when listeners came to the wrong conclusion they thought ‘ fuck em’. Slayer let the music do the talking. There is no time for fools.
The guitar work of Jeff Hanneman is like a rush filled clean abstract painting. It does not hold your hand. You simply get it or you do not. The arm on the guitar is used almost in equal measure as the actual chords. Strings slackened, tightened, bent, twisted, mutated. In your face. Deviating. Powerful. Uncompromising. Unique.
Slayer are not a one man band but a sum of four incredible groundbreaking musicians. Jeff Hanneman was not Slayer but they can never be the same without him. I would not type R.I.P. without meaning it – the Internet is full of that stuff.
R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman…