RIP Jeff Hanneman: Slayer at Verizon Theater In September 2010
Ed. Note: Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman, a founding member of the band, passed away Thursday in Southern California due to liver failure, according to Rolling Stone. Hanneman, 49, had contracted the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis, which doctors believed was the result of a spider bite, and stepped away from Slayer in early 2011. In late September 2010, he was part of the Jagermeister tour that stopped by Verizon Wireless Theater (now Bayou Music Center) with Megadeth and Anthrax. Former Rocks Off staffer Craig Hlavaty brought us this report.
Slayer live is a force of sound, probably the closest you can get to true calamity without being outright noise. Like a freight train, there are no stops. If you get hit or run over, that's the breaks.
Photos by Groovehouse
But, Good Lord, does it have a groove to it. We are probably only one of seven people in the world who think Slayer has a head-nodding, hip-shake to their music. A band stamping on human ear drums forever. And of course we had to be on the barricade.
The band began their set with "Hate Worldwide" and the title track from from last year's World Painted Blood. A man behind us screamed every single lyric in our ear, while a father and his 11-year-old son threw up metal horns and headbanged.
People changed within a matter of two minutes, gaining weird evil grins drenched in sweat. Families, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, held each other close in utter metalhead fandom. We couldn't get over how many families were there. One kid, no taller than our belt buckle, told us he had now seen Slayer "this many" times, holding up three fingers.
The band got the new material out of the way to start in on the whole of 1990's Seasons In the Abyss, which was released 20 years ago next month. For us, it's always amazing to hear something two decades old burn with such a ferocity, while things released yesterday drag ass.
Lead singer and bassist Tom Araya hasn't lost anything in his playing or his voice after his recent surgery. The only that we noticed was a little more gray in his hair and goatee, and he almost stationary during the show as always. As for guitarist Kerry King, you could hear the five industrial-strength chains he was wearing around his waist over the music at times when he would stalk the stage. That's something you won't forget.