It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since the metal community lost one of its pioneers. Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman died of liver failure one year ago today. And while Slayer has continued on with Gary Holt and even released a new song, Hanneman’s influence on their sound can’t be stated enough. The holy trinity of Slayer albums (Reign in Blood, South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss) are required listening for any metalhead, and his prints are all over them. He made the band what they are today, and since he’s responsible for so much of their output, we thought the best way to pay tribute to Hanneman was to list some of our favorite songs that he’s written or co-written.
“Hell Awaits” from Hell Awaits
For me, it’d have to be “Hell Awaits.” That track just meant SO much for metal. It personified where Slayer, and a lot of metal was in ’85. It was heavy, it was intense, it had great riffs, and it was scary as fuck for back then. It was just such a revolutionary song. It had intricate parts, riffs like crazy, and was the embodiment of dark metal then. That song, and album, may not be the most famous Slayer work, but it think it’s definitely one of the most important contributors to early thrash, and darker metal in general.
– Anthony Maisano
“War Ensemble” from Seasons in the Abyss
When Slayer got into their groove phase with South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss, Jeff Hanneman unleashed a whole different side of his guitar playing, and it was SCARY how well he could play on both sides. Whether it was the pure thrash of the band’s early days, or the groove-focused riffing of those two later albums, Jeff was an expert at both styles, and he displays that talent on this song. The solos are blazingly fast, and the main riff on the chorus is just short of an Iron Maiden gallop. There’s so much depth to this song, it’s hard to describe, except to say that it’s a damn fine display of Slayer’s musicianship.
– Chris Colgan