St. Paul, Minnesot'as True Metal Record Store (RIP as of Dec. 24, 2015)
RIP Jeff Hanneman. Outside of the obvious, by all accounts a really good dude. With any luck we can use International Day of Slayer (6/6 of every year) as an excuse to have an Into the Void Records USA mini-SLAYER-fest next month in tribute.
He joins several other prominent members of the California scene who have passed before him, including:
(No jokes allowed about Jeff Becerra‘s legs.)
Anyway. My small tribute to Jeff Hanneman thus far has been to look through my classic SLAYER discs to see where he specifically contributed lyrics and music. I’ve actually been surprised somewhat by what I’ve misremembered, but finding out that one of my favorite tracks, “Postmortem,” was wholly a Hanneman endeavor has been well worth the shame.
His words here are a perfect summation SLAYER’s ability to capture mankind’s nihilistic tendency to spiritual and material annihilation.
Funeral held for the depression of man
Holds the key to his own death
Entering a tomb of a corpse yet conceived
Tighten the tourniquet around your neck
Sifting away the debris of hated life
Cold touch of death begins to chill your spine
Seeking life beyond your perishment
Repeating words echoing through your mind
Chanting lines of blind witchery
To save yourself from extinction
Wanting to die is your reason to live
New life born from the oppressed
Taste your blood as it trickles through the air
Another casualty beyond the shadows you fall
Losing ground, the fate you feel it draws near
Fatality, reality, you await the final call
My sinful glare at nothing holds thoughts of death behind it
Skeletons in my mind commence tearing at my sanity
Vessels in my brain carry death until my birth
Come and die with me forever
Do you want to die!
The waves of blood are rushing near, pounding at the walls of lies
Turning off my sanity, reaching back into my mind
Non-rising body from the grave showing new reality
What I am, what I want, I’m only after death
It’s a beautiful and subtly appropriate climax to an album that would seem quite single-minded without it. In perfect concert with the words, the riffs cut with chromatic simplicity at first and become persistently more agitated until the song’s frenzied end in purgatorial noise.
For better or worse, Jeff leaves World Painted Blood as the chronological capstone to his legacy. Despite it’s two-faced nature I count it as my favorite SLAYER album in 20 years, and I see that Jeff and Kerry King contributed about equally to songs on both sides of my adoration.
It’s heartening in any context to even hope to approach the creative bloom of youth almost 25 years on. Jeff’s songs “Unit 731” and “Psychopathy Red” from that album, among other moments, suggest it absolutely can be done. His work altered our lives as metalheads in innumerable ways, but that kind of steadfastness alone should earn him a warrior’s eternity.
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