Saturday, May 04, 2013

Metalobit: Jeff Hanneman

Jeff Hanneman, one of the founders of Slayer, has died.

CBC has gathered a collection of fellow rockers reactions.

Interestingly, most were indistinguishable from the sort of tribute you'd see if Jeff from the Sandwich Shop died:

Ryan Adams "tribute" was, if you look closely, factually correct without being emotionally involved:

Dave Mustaine was quite poetic:

The New York Times obituary was a little more clear-eyed:
Mr. Hanneman wrote about serial killers and terrorists, rapists and dead women. The release of the band’s albums was sometimes delayed by record labels’ concern about graphic lyrics and cover art.

Mr. Hanneman wrote perhaps the band’s best-known song, “Angel of Death,” from Slayer’s breakthrough 1986 album, “Reign in Blood,” produced by Rick Rubin. The song describes torturous experimental surgeries performed by the Nazi physician Joseph Mengele at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Some critics have accused the band members of being Nazis and racists; Mr. Hanneman said Slayer was simply interested in history and evil.
The LA Times made Hanneman fight for space with John Williamson. (Interesting to note that Williamson's clothing-and-sex-optional 1970s resort probably generated more genuine moral panic than Slayer ever managed, despite trying harder.) But as the LA Times obituary stressed, boy, did Slayer want to shock:
"We write the songs that we do because that's what we like," Hanneman told Hilburn. "But they are just stories — not things we actually do or recommend anyone else go out and do. Take the song 'Piece by Piece,' about chopping up somebody. To us, it's like a horror movie. It's fun because [the songs and movies] shock you. The kids get into it on the same level we do. They know it is just a story and just fun."
The Washington Post couldn't help noticing it's hard to mourn someone obsessed with death:
Fans took to social media to declare “#HellAwaits“ — referring to the band’s 1985 album “Hell Awaits” — in 140-character eulogies that somehow managed to feel warmhearted. On the excellent metal blog Bazillion Points, Hanneman was fondly remembered as “grumpy, withdrawn, and antisocial,” a guy who once spent 30 delighted minutes “watching people trip over a sidewalk pothole on the streets of Manhattan.”

These aren’t the usual warm fuzzies that come pouring out when we lose a trailblazing artist, but the disorienting nature of the discussion feels true to Slayer’s gift for scrambling our senses. Hanneman’s band will most likely be remembered for its sensational lyrics about violence, mortality and the blood encrusted pits of h-e-double-hockey-sticks, but the true legacy of Slayer’s frenetic music is its ability to approximate the confusion of danger — that blurry, breathtaking space between life and death.
Classic Rock magazine dug into its archive to report on the spider bite which, ultimately, would be responsible for Hanneman's death:
In 2011 Hanneman told Classic Rock how he was bitten by a spider in his hot tub. “I didn’t even feel it – but an hour later I knew I was ill. I could see the flesh corrupting. I got to the emergency room and thank God the nurse knew straight away what it was.

“At that point I was an hour away from death. Unbelievably the doctor was a Slayer fan. He said: ‘First I am going to save your life. Then I am going to save your arm. Then I am going to save your career.’”

He underwent a series of skin grafts and had continued to receive physiotherapy.
Just as a sidenote, with so much competition for attention for the metal fan, it's surprising that both Kerrang and Metal Hammer's websites did little beyond a quick round-up of posts from Twitter and a short obituary. It's as if you'd gone to the Spectator site after Thatcher died and just got a brief newsline written by an intern.

The last word, fittingly, to the official Slayer site:
Our Brother
Jeff Hanneman,
May He Rest In Peace
(1964 - 2013)

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