The first Slayer album I heard was Undisputed Attitude, and now as I think of my relationship with Jeff Hanneman’s music it was really the perfect introduction. Mostly a collection of punk covers, there are also two songs from Hanneman’s previous band Pap Smear. To this day, only Reign In Blood holds more appeal to me in the entire Slayer canon, because more than anything, it shows insight into what the members of Slayer are like as passionate fans of music. It’s the sort of selfish release that I personally love: An album that highly values nostalgia and aims to please nobody more than the guys in the recording studio. While I played drums and mediocre vocals for a variety of musical projects, my relationship with music has always been a 90/10 fan/musician split. While idolizing musicians of Hanneman’s stature it’s easy to lose sight of the details that make them human. Listening to him passionately shred Minor Threat and D.R.I. songs that inspired him as a young jersey-wearing guitarist connects with me more than any music video of the band playing in a blood-spattered room ever has. The metal world is full of larger-than-life personalities and talents of near-mythic proportions, but the actual human stories have always been more interesting to me. Jeff’s story is undeniably tragic, but his impact on rock music dwarfs the terrible reality of his death. I hope everyone remembers that they are honoring the memory of a man, not just a guitarist.
The members of Bison B.C. may have said it best recently: “Hell awaits, brother.”