Homage to Jeff Hanneman,

Going South Of Heaven..............

There have been several moments in my metal life when I have felt the exaltation of the family of metal. Brothers and sisters joined in the unison of extreme music, the passion and the fury.

There has also been moments when I have felt extremely moved by moments in our culture. The passing of legends, the moments when I found one of my idols was no more. The day I heard that Chuck Schuldiner had succumbed to his fight against brain cancer, the day Dimebag was shot, the day Ronnie James Dio passed.

Today I was told that Jeff Hanneman had died, and words escaped me. I felt a rush of emotion, mixed with a sudden void. I have never met the man, I did not know him personally, and I could not begin to fathom the loss that Tom Araya, Kerry King and Dave Lombardo are experiencing. I have seen him live several times, read his lyrics over and over, and listened to his songs more times than I can count.

Why was I so moved by a man I had no relation or direct interactions with? Why did I feel a part of myself fade momentarily, and feel lost?

I hark back to my earliest memories of listening to Slayer, my literal childhood. Show No Mercy, Hell Awaits, and the untouchable Reign In Blood, these albums saw me through some tough times in my life.

I know the irony of death, war, and evil as a cause for hope in my life, but this is the reality of my bond to Slayer, and their music. I remember when Seasons In The Abyss came out; I was going through some really hard times. The fury, harshness and ‘Fuck Shit Up’ attitude of that album sparked the powder keg of teenage revolution in me.

His playing style was flawless, his guitar tone a perfect counterpoint to Kerry’s, his solos distinct. How many metal heads picked up a guitar due to the influence of Slayer, and this man? Countless numbers I am sure, and countless more will do the same.

He succumbed to liver failure, possibly a function of the necrotising fasciitis from which he'd been suffering for over a year and contracted from a spider bite, possibly due to the many drinking sessions in his life, and this I think was a sobering moment for me. As another metal legend, Napalm Death's Jessie Pintado also passed from this unfortunately self inflicted illness, another death that caused me to pause. 49 is young, I’m 37 and have put a lot of booze through my system in my life, although I doubt to the extremes of Slayer Inc.

I will never use the term ‘was’ when I refer to his music or playing, Jeff ‘is’, Slayer ‘is’, and forever ‘will’ be.

I salute the memory of Jeff Hanneman, I mourn the passing of a metal God, and I pass my condolences to his family, friends and band mates. Will be seeing you one day, South of Heaven.