Headbangers’ Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’s contributors take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.
Late last night, Slayer’s returning drummer Paul Bostaph revealed a new photo (seen off to the side) of the band’s touring lineup via Facebook. In it, Bostaph can be seen with Kerry King, Tom Araya and Exodus’ Gary Holt. Given Jeff Hanneman’s recent passing and the speculation behind Slayer’s future, Metal Insider asks in this week’s Headbangers’ Brawl: Should this photo of Slayer bother us so much?
Zach: I don’t know why, but something about the photo makes me feel uneasy. Granted, Holt has been filling in for Hanneman for so long now that he ought to be included in Slayer-related press more often. However, something about the photo makes me want to say “too soon.” From what? Well, it’s been less than two months since Hanneman passed away, and both King and Araya have given conflicting statements about Slayer’s future. It just feels like the photo says a little too much too soon. Maybe I’m looking too much into the photo (and it’s worth noting that while Bostaph posted the photo, Slayer haven’t), but as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Anthony: I personally don’t think it’s a terribly huge deal. I mean, the Dio Disciples formed and toured less than a year after Ronnie died. I know this is different, but lineups in metal are always changing. “The show must go on” comes to mind for me, personally. I agree with you completely that they might be jumping the gun, but Jeff had been out of action for a while at the time of his passing. Slayer might have been ready to move forward with new stuff, and had already accepted that he might not be returning (his tragic death aside) a while ago. I never expected Slayer to throw in the towel. At most, I might have thought that they would change their name slightly, sort of like Death To All. I’m a believer that a good band can be good even without a particularly great/influential member, (ie: Sabbath without Ozzy, Helloween without Michael Kiske, Candlemass without Messiah Marcolin, etc.) so I’m willing to give Slayer a chance and not judge them yet about life after Jeff. Again, don’t get me wrong, Jeff’s passing is a tragedy, and the band will NEVER be the same, but as long as they keep things respectful to Jeff, I don’t see an issue with them moving forward.
Ben: The thing that gets me about this picture is the realization that although Gary Holt has filled in for Jeff Hanneman so often, now it looks like a permanent thing. I also don’t like seeing the picture while being so unsure about the band’s future. If there is nothing big to look forward to, why am I getting so excited over a picture that doesn’t mean anything? However, if I’m wrong (which I hope I am) and Slayer does choose to continue on, the Slayer/Exodus fusion is just fantastic. Bon Scott passed away in 1979 and AC/DC released Back in Black in 1980 with Brian Johnson. I don’t think a picture can be posted “too soon” if there have been bands in the past that have put out albums mere months after a band member’s passing. But like I said, if Slayer does choose to put out another album and continue touring, we all have something great to look forward to. I just wish we knew what the future held before seeing the picture.
Kodi: I think the whole issue here is that Slayer has two members who probably wouldn’t know what the hell to do with themselves if they stopped touring. Kerry King and Tom Araya have been playing together since 1981, and let’s be real: when you’ve been playing in a band for over 30 years, toured all over the world numerous times and sold piles of records, stopping that band is tantamount to forcing yourself into early retirement, because that’s your whole career. King and Araya might not get anything going on at this point beyond guesting on other people’s songs if they ended Slayer. To me, it’s that simple. It’s a little sad to watch them try and soldier on so soon after Jeff Hanneman’s death, but I don’t think King and Araya are jerks for doing so. I just think they’re trying to be professionals first at this point, realizing that there is a lot of money on the table if they stopped touring right this second and probably not ready for a future without Slayer after three decades of doing the same, admittedly awesome thing over and over and over again.
Bram: I can understand why it would leave a bad taste in Slayer fans’ mouths. It’s not necessarily a “too soon” thing with Jeff Hanneman. 30+ years into their career, it’s obvious that Slayer aren’t just a band – they’re a business. And in order to continue selling bikinis, they’re going to have to keep touring. But that’s where the “business” part comes in. The way that they dismissed Dave Lombardo when he questioned their business practices, and seeing Paul Bostaph is a reminder of that. I think it’s fine that they’re continuing on, and I hope they still have some good music left in them, but seeing that picture, which is technically half Slayer, half Exodus, makes me think more of the current incarnation of KISS than it does Slayer.