I always liked Jeff. No idea what kind of person he was off stage, though. That’s the problem with most artists; you can enjoy their work however much, but you never know how much of a shitty (i.e. normal) human being they are until it’s too late. But I know he didn’t let a little thing like Necrotizing Fasciitis force him into retirement.
I was never the biggest Slayer fan. Even in my most metal days, they weren’t one of my bands. If me and my best friends had our own thrash band to latch onto, mine was either Anthrax or Exodus. (Eric’s was OverKill, Brian’s was Testament. Eric always knew how to pick ‘em better.) By the time I found out about Slayer, their reputation already caricatured them to a point that rubbed me the wrong way.
But there are two Slayer albums that I hold in high regard: South of Heaven, and Seasons in the Abyss. ‘Seasons the most. It showed that even the archetypes could still advance, still progress. There weren’t any crazy orchestration or changes in time signature, but it wasn’t just a mess of open E strings and snare drum. There was dynamic. Breathing room. Structure and character that weren’t present in past Slayer albums.
Jeff Hanneman was the musical mastermind behind those two albums. On top of “Angel of Death” and “Raining Blood” and any significant parts of Slayer’s discography.
I don’t know enough about Hanneman or Slayer to go into further details and acknowledgements; for all I know, Hanneman could’ve been just as guilty as Kerry King and Tom Araya for the post-Seasons career. But he wrote the bulk of (the music of) those two kickass albums, and I just want to say thanks.
Shred in peace, Jeff.