The End Of Days Is Near…RIP Slayer

I’ve been wondering for almost five years if they’d ever get a fucking clue and just call it a day.  Then, this past Monday, Slayer made this bombshell  announcement amid rumors of a huge summer tour lineup including Testament, Behemoth, Lamb Of God and fellow Big Four band Anthrax:

Well damn.  There was just one thing for me to say….it’s about fucking time!  In my opinion this should’ve been done nearly five years ago, as I said above.  Why?  Nothing against Paul Bostaph who’s currently in his second run with the band, but the band’s treatment and dismissal of Dave Lombardo – especially by Kerry King – was just fucking disgrace by all accounts.  A few months later, guitarist Jeff Hanneman died of alcohol related cirrhosis of the liver.  While they had already been touring with Exodus guitarist Gary Holt for a few years while Jeff was recovering from a near fatal spider bite, they should’ve stopped everything right there.

I’ve spoken about this in an article ripping Kerry for calling Jeff “worm food” back in 2015.  Yeah, Kerry is a great rhythm player, he’s a really good guitarist, probably more technically sound than Jeff.  But Jeff was the better songwriter, having written “Angel Of Death”, “Necrophiliac”. “Spill The Blood”, “Postmortem” and the perennial set closer, “Raining Blood”.  Being that he was the one guy in the band that was more influenced by Punk than the others, his songwriting and playing style were far more reckless and chaotic than anything Kerry wrote.  Same goes for his lead style, just pure balls to the wall ripping.  It was never pretty and that’s why it was amazing.  Here’s an example, go to the 1:42 mark for Jeff’s solo.  By the way the music here is all his too.

I can spend this entire article kissing Jeff’s ass but here’s my point: like it or not Jeff was a KEY member of the band.  With him gone, Slayer was officially nothing more than a tribute band.  You know, that band that just goes out there for the money and play those signature songs they didn’t even write.  Because every time they play “Angel Of Death”, their SIGNATURE song, it just does not look right seeing Gary on the left side of the stage – and by the way this is not to disrespect Gary.

But it’s like David Vincent and Tim Yeung going out on tour as I Am Morbid (I seriously cannot stop laughing at that name!).  Yeah, David wrote almost all the lyrics to those classic Morbid Angel songs; but without Trey killing it on guitar it just sounds like a money grab before the tour even starts.  From a non metal perspective it’s the equivalent of Aerosmith touring and recording without Joe Perry or Brad Whitford – BOTH of the band’s guitarists! – for five years.  Who really gives a shit about Rock And A Hard Place?  Certainly not I!

While it’s clear to me that both Kerry and Tom Araya are the two business partners of the band, Kerry most likely is the one that pushed and pushed to keep going.  He’s much more shrewd of a business man.  But there’s one problem.  His songwriting style has changing DRASTICALLY since the earlier days, as he’s almost embraced shitty trends such as Nu Metal and it showed a little too much on 2001’s God Hates Us All.  Wanna know why I’ll never give Repentless, a complete listen through?  Because who in their RIGHT MIND wants to hear an entire Slayer record written by him?  And if you say you do you’re just a fan boy and should go die – fucking slowly.

Tom, on the other hand, made it clear several times over the years that at his age he’s become homesick.  He’s tired, and I think he’s kind of lonely without Jeff.  Starting in the late eighties/early nineties, Tom and Jeff began a songwriting partnership that produced some of Slayer’s best tracks, including “War Ensemble”, “Season In The Abyss” and my favorite latter era track, “Eyes Of The Insane”.  Jeff wrote the music but Tom wrote the lyrics.  Here’s a statement Tom made to Loudwire in 2016:

“At 35 years, it’s time to collect my pension. [Laughs] This is a career move.  I’m grateful that we’ve been around for 35 years; that’s a really long time. So, yeah, to me, it is. Because when we started off, everything was great, because you’re young and invincible. And then there came a time where I became a family man, and I had a tough time flying back and forth. And now, at this stage, at the level we’re at now, I can do that; I can fly home when I want to, on days off, and spend some time with my family, which is something I wasn’t able to do when [my kids] were growing up. Now they’re both older and mature. So now I take advantage of that.” Araya added: “Yeah, it just gets harder and harder to come back out on the road. 35 years is a long time.”

So I’m wondering if either certain business/contractual matters were finally resolved or Tom finally let Kerry know that he had enough.  I personally think that at 56 years old he’s burnt out.  It probably take it’s physical toll to scream like that every night at his age.  Or just maybe he has enough common sense to understand that things can NEVER be the same with Jeff gone.  Either way, the band has finally made the right call because at this point they’re more than beating a dead horse.  I almost want to see this farewell tour.  The lineup is fucking sick, and I can almost guarantee Anthrax is on there because they’ll probably have both bands on stage together at the end of every show to play a few songs together and it’ll be one big party as 2/4 of the Big Four.  Hell, even Dave Mustaine said he’d like to put together one last Big Four show as his way of sending them off.  Sounds actually really cool, considering the interband relationship between his own band and Kerry (Kerry was in Megadeth for five seconds before he got sick of Dave’s dictator-like approach).  But will they agree to it?  However, as I’ve hashtagged on Instagram posts for a while now, #nojeffnoslayer.

No Jeff, no Slayer.  He’s not there and I’m not interested.  Kerry and Tom, congratulations.  You’ve had an amazing career, creating a legacy that’s UNDENIABLE.  But please, after this is all over, make sure it stays that way.  Don’t be like that pro wrestler that retires then almost as quickly comes back because they can’t stand to be away – or need the money.  Here’s one of THE most fucked up songs the band ever released, written by Jeff:

 

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Abigail Lives! King Diamond live at Playstation Theater 11/20/15

It was an eerie night on that 7th day of July in 1777…alright it was more like last Friday in Manhattan and I was actually going to see King Diamond.  On this tour he’ll play a few classics before playing in its entirety Abigail, the album that made King a metal GOD.  Thanks again Courtenay!  So I went to pick her up at her job and off we went to PlayStation Theater in Times Square, where we were searched twice, including being patted down because of the ISIS attacks on Paris…as well as ISIS claiming Times Square was next.  Oh, and if you live in NYC and really thought they’d do it you’re dumb.  It’s too big and too obvious.  I think they’d hit a much more low key area.

We got there long before the doors even opened and sat because she hurt her calf just walking to meet me and my knees were in exquisite pain from squatting 210 for 6 reps without my compression gear on.  So more than an hour passed before people stared coming in and man, this show got stereotypical real quick.  I saw a lot of Mexicans walking in and you just knew they were there to see Exodus, the opening band.  There’s always been a connection between Mexicans and thrash or even some death metal.  I can’t explain but if you’ve ever gone to a thrash show you know what I’m talking about.  I saw dudes coming in with bandanas on with unbent baseball caps over them and 2nd generation Exodus and Slayer t-shirts.  It never fails…ever.

Sitting a few seats next to us were the stereotypical awkward/not so good looking couples who are bonded by that one little thing…their love for metal.  Awww.  Then someone said something to me that had me looking.  “You notice how many morbidly obese guys are here?”  Oh yeah, it was real bad.  I’m totally convinced that it’s the result of years of devotion to Dungeons and Dragons, staying indoors all day and playing online video games with thirteen year old boys and eating like shit their entire lives.  You know these motherfuckers came out of the woodwork just for this and then ran back home to their video games.  I’m not the best looking guy out there but I’m sure I was maybe one of the most in shape guys in the whole fucking building at that moment.  Ladies and gents – another metal concert stereotype.  Don’t ever be that guy.

So around 8pm Exodus were getting ready to hit the stage.  Their entrance music?  “Piano Man” by Billy Joel.  Once Exodus came on they opened with a track off their new album Blood In Blood Out.  My biggest problem with this band forever will always be Sousa’s vocals.  I said it in my last blog but canning Rob Dukes was THE dumbest thing they could’ve done.  Dukes gave Exodus much needed new life with his intense screams and barks.  I even bought an Exodus album for the first time!  Forget that they way the canned him was pretty scummy it was just a bad artistic call.  The are so fucking heavy that Sousa’s nasal delivery just sounds so fucking dated.

Aside from that they played great.  But why did Gary Holt look so different here?  What a sec…..that’s not Gary!  Where is he??  I texted my friend Maureen, who was waiting in line to get searched, if she knew anything.  I had no idea that he was not going to be there because of Slayer commitments.  It seems crazy at first, Exodus hit a goldmine, opening for King Diamond and having three additional dates added in New York City alone because the initial date sold out so fast.  But then again, Gary’s now in Slayer as well as Exodus and probably making much more money in one show alone.  Good for him.  So who was his replacement on this tour with King?  It’s Heathen guitarist Kragen Lum, who did a damn good job playing Gary’s parts.

Exodus played for not even an hour.  Zetro did his expected nod to L’Amour’s to get the older fans to jizz all over themselves, and they did.  The hit their signature tune, “Toxic Waltz”, right in the middle of the set.  The dudes in the pit went apeshit.  It was a decent show.  I don’t hate Exodus and I never really did.  But Zetro just annoys me to no end.  He is to the west coast what Blitz from Overkill is to the east coast – really annoying!

After a little waiting period, the curtain opened.  Then…this happened….

I have to admit, I was a bit worried.  Over the last several years he suffered a herniated disc and most recently heart surgery.  I saw a clip of him with members of Mercyful Fate playing with Metallica on their 30th anniversary show in 2011 and he wasn’t that good.  But that was then, because as soon as he wailed out “GRANDMAAAAAAAA!!!!” all my fears were gone.  Holy shit he was amazing.  His band were spot on.  Andy LaRocque’s solos?  Total.  Fucking.  Jizzfest.  He can solo all day and I’ll never get bored.  The stage?  Two staircases with a balcony with two inverted crucifixes and a pentagram behind it.  So eighties, so amazing.

After “Welcome Home” the band kicked right into “Sleepless Nights”, my personal favorite from King.  It’s so different from the rest of his material up to that particular album for me, I guess because of the chord structuring and the emotion that’s actually in that song.  Yeah I know that Conspiracy is a concept album like everything else from Abigail on; but every time he shrieks out that line “Killing The PAAAAIIIINNNN!!!!!” it always hits me and now here I was hearing it live and my response was no different here.  They broke into “Halloween” after that and then two Mercyful Fate tunes, “Evil” and “Melissa”.

I have to admit I’m one of the many people would’ve never known “Evil” or ANYTHING related to Mercyful Fate or King Diamond if I never bought Metallica’s Garage Inc.  So when King shrieked “I was born in a cemetery….” I immediately heard Hetfield singing it in my head.  At the end of “Melissa” King says in a raspy voice “I think Melissa’s still with us…”, before slowly walking up the steps, them limping.  Then, as he reached the top, the pentagram, crucifixes and band logo on the side of the stage descended.  Then shit went DOWN!!!!!

I had to get the first two songs recorded.  “Arrival” is such a dark and ominous song, foreshadowing the rest of this creepy ass story about a pregnant woman whose baby is possessed by the spirit of Abigail, the illegitimate, stillborn child who was mummified by Count La’Fey.  Hearing every single track was intense.  The band were spot on.  King’s voice was much better than I would’ve ever expected.  I should also note that while most aging bands will tune lower so the singer can handle the songs, King played EVERYTHING in their proper tunings.  Not bad for a guy who’s sixty years old.  And there’s one more thing I need to point out.  My girlfriend pointed out King’s makeup, which looked NOTHING like his usual look, inverted crucifixes all over his face.  This time it actually looked a lot more like his classic look from the 80’s, you know, the one Gene Simmons tried to sue him over in the late nineties like an asshole.  Hey Gene, fuck you!

As the show came to an end with “The Black Horsemen” King yelled out to the crowd “Thank you so, so much New York!”, and rightfully so.  Only in New York City could one show turn into four and it was easy to tell he was moved by it all.  He’s lucky to be alive and I’m sure he knows it.  After the band finished up “Insanity” from King’s album The Eye, could be heard through the PA speakers.  It served to me as one last reminder of how talented a songwriter King really is.  He’s extremely underrated and deserves much more credit than he gets, even after Metallica exposed him to the world seventeen years ago.  I’m pretty sure King stayed on stage for five extra minutes even after the rest of the band walked off just to high five the fans, soaking it all in.  This type of thing doesn’t happen to him in the states often and I know it had to have felt amazing at that moment.  He’d go on to play two more shows in the next two nights and I’m sure the results were the same.

 

Upcoming Show’s I’ll Be Attending

So here’s a short list of the next few show’s I’m going to in either New Jersey or Manhattan within the next week and again in February.

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King Diamond w/ Exodus live at PlayStation Theater, New York, NY  – Friday, November 20, 2015

This was very last minute.  I wasn’t counting on seeing this show because this date in particular is sold out but a co-worker of my girlfriend offered her his tickets.  Sucker!  This is going to be amazing.  I love King.  She can’t stand him but is willing to go see him out of respect, knowing that there’d probably never be bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax or Slayer had it not been for Mercyful Fate, King’s pre-solo band.  Being that this will be my first time seeing King, it’ll also be interesting to hear how he sounds after years away, having recovered from back AND heart surgeries.  I also know I’m absolutely going to jizz myself silly when I finally hear Andy LaRoque solo his brains out for the first time ever!  Not looking too forward to Exodus.  I’m probably one of the few would cannot stand Souza’s voice…at all.  What the fuck was Gary Holt thinking when he got rid of Rob Dukes?  Was he even thinking at all?!?!  You dumb fuck.

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Angel Vivaldi live at Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ – Sunday, November 22, 2015

Since I last wrote about Angel Vivaldi this YouTube sensation has been on the road for the last two months, promoting his most recent album, Away With Words, Pt.1.  This show will be his homecoming show, bringing that tour to an end.  If you haven’t heard him yet I suggest you go to Dingbatz on the 22nd to see why he gets namedropped by peers such as Alice Cooper guitarist Nita Strauss.

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Black Sabbath live at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – Thursday, February 25, 2016

Well, here it is.  And more important than that, it’s for real this time.  Tony Iommi himself has gone on record saying that he finally cannot handle it anymore.  It’s incredible he was able to hang on for as long as he has, all things considered.  But it was going to happen eventually – I’m just grateful that their last show wasn’t an Ozzfest gig in Japan!  What really got me mad was finding out after I bought the tickets that they’re playing another show at the Garden two days later – on a Saturday.  But I honestly don’t mind taking a day off from work the next day – especially with the jackasses I deal with on a day to day basis!  They’ll also be playing throughout the summer including dates at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ.

I just hope that Ozzy doesn’t fuck this up.  The two times I tried to see Sabbath he was sick, but I’ll definitely get into those times in future blogs, trust me.  I know for a fucking fact that I’m not the only one who’d LOVE for Bill Ward to be a part of this last tour.  But I guess it’s up to Bill in the end; but hell, he should be a part of this, if not even for us at least for himself!  I’d love to see the classic line up that started it all just once.  C’mon Bill!  Ozzy fucked it up for me twice – don’t you be the one to fuck it up this time!

“Jeff Would Want This!”

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…really guys?  Because I don’t!  There’s a lot I can say about the latest Metal Hammer.  I can talk about Kerry and Tom’s take on the Dave Lombardo situation, the fact that this really isn’t the first time Paul Bostaph was in the band, the fact that Gary Holt is pretty much a Slayer member at this point.

But all I really care about is that stupid quote on the cover of the mag.  Why?  Because I don’t know about you but I’m not looking forward to a whole album written by Kerry King, no fucking way.  And I know I’m not the only one either!

Jeff Hanneman, Slayer’s fallen guitarist – I still miss him so much! – was the guy that kept Slayer raw as FUCK.  You knew damn well when a song was written by him because it was usually so fucked up.  HIs shit was real; it came from inside because, unlike Kerry, he wasn’t listening to bullshit nu-metal or trying to fit in with what might’ve been popular, especially in the early 2000’s.  He also came from a family of war veterans which meant A. He knew exactly what he was writing about at all times and B. He was able to write about more than just blood and death.

Jeff’s punk rock background also gave him that ability to write music without limitations.  His solos are way more off the cuff than Kerry’s ever were.  I’ve yet to hear another guitarist solo off key and make it fit the song perfectly – but Jeff could do it.  Oh, and back to the brutality thing, Jeff has a major one-up on Kerry – he wrote “Angel of Death”, one of the most brutal and fucked up songs off all time.  Kerry could never get the band in as much trouble as Jeff did with THAT song but hey, there’s no such thing as bad publicity when you’re in Slayer.  Jeff also wrote some of Slayer’s most memorable songs: “War Ensemble”, “Dead Skin Mask”, “South of Heaven””Postmortem”, “Raining Blood” – the starter for every pit….ever.

I mean no disrespect to Gary Holt but Slayer should just call it a day.  They’ve accomplished more than they could’ve ever dreamed of as band with songs like “Necrophiliac”, but Kerry writing the whole thing already makes the upcoming album sound so one dimensional to me.  Gary obviously had no input in this – and he shouldn’t.  When Jeff died the band lost it’s raw edge, that let it loose spirit.  Some of you might say that about Dave Lombardo being out again but this article isn’t about him because he left the band once before and he’s still breathing.  Even my friend Idrees, the biggest Slayer fanboy you’ll EVER know finally saw the light, telling me this past December that even HE made peace with the fact the Slayer are done.  Oh, and you’ll read more about that guy soon.

Anyway, I don’t know about you but as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Tom Araya and especially Kerry are just keeping the band alive for no other reason but to keep cash flowing.  I don’t know why Kerry doesn’t try the side project he said he always wanted to do with Zakk Wylde.  Kerry, you guys are toast, just let it go.  Here’s how I’ll always remember Slayer…with a Jeff song:

RIP Jeff Hanneman 1964 – 2013

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