Yesterday was a particularly sad day for me. Not only did I attend a memorial event for our friend and former neighbour Ian McKie (I’ll write more about that at a later date, once I’ve processed the news a bit more), but I also learned of the death of Slayer guitarist and songwriter Jeff Hanneman.
The first time I heard Slayer was in a church basement in Whitley Bay. The album was Reign In Blood, which is still regarded by many as the definitive thrash metal album. The album was released in October 1986 and as I was on a Borders Scripture Union summer camp I guess it must have been 1987.
Slayer was the first metal band I saw in concert, at the Edinburgh Playhouse in 1988, promoting their South of Heaven album; Nuclear Assault were the support act.
Jeff Hanneman suffered a spider bite in 2011, which resulted in a condition called necrotizing fasciitis, a rare and horrible flesh-eating disease which almost immediately put his life at risk. As was reported on the Slayer website recently,
for a couple of days after he went to the ER, things were touch-and-go. There was talk that he might have to have his arm amputated, and we didn’t know if he was going to pull through at all. He was in a medically-induced coma for a few days and had several operations to remove the dead and dying tissue from his arm. So, understand, he was in really, really bad shape. It’s been about a year since he got out of the hospital, and since then, he had to learn to walk again, he’s had several painful skin grafts, he’s been in rehab doing exercises to regain the strength in his arm. (Source)
Despite his rehab reportedly going well, and making an appearance at The Big Four show at Coachella in 2011, Hanneman never rejoined Slayer in a full time capacity. His place in the band was filled on tour by Exodus guitarist Gary Holt.
Sadly, the news broke yesterday that he had died from liver failure, although it was made clear on some reports that as yet there is no clear indication whether this was directly related to the spider bite.
This is the news currently on the Slayer website:
Slayer is devastated to inform that their bandmate and brother, Jeff Hanneman, passed away at about 11AM this morning [Thursday, May 2] near his Southern California home. Hanneman was in an area hospital when he suffered liver failure. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his sister Kathy and his brothers Michael and Larry, and will be sorely missed. (Source)
An album that I’ve been anticipating for quite some time is Storm Corrosion: a collaborative project between Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth and Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree. It was released in the UK on Monday 7 May.
I loved the last Porcupine Tree album, The Incident; the last Opeth album, Heritage, has been a grower; I enjoyed Steven Wilson’s second solo album Grace for Drowning. I knew that this album wouldn’t sound like any of these.
In an interview with Steven Wilson about the record he said
“If anything, it’s even more orchestral, more stripped down, even more dark, twisted and melancholy… but it certainly feels like it comes from the same place as Heritage and Grace For Drowning, which indeed it does because it was written during the same period. We were, in a way, egging each other on to do those particular records but also at the same time coming up with the music that’s now going to be on Storm Corrosion. So it’s a very orchestral record, as you’d expect, the songs are quite long and develop in unusual ways. I’m realistic about it, that half the people are going to hate it and half the people are going to fall in love with it. I’d be happy with that anyway.”
The album is dark and atmospheric and beautiful and odd and unexpected and it has the feel of a 1960s soundtrack (which is perhaps why I like the video to Drag Ropes so much). In many ways it reminds me of Richard Thompson‘s 1997 collaboration Industry with bassist Danny Thompson (no relation).
Last month Metallica celebrated their 30th anniversary with a series of four shows at The Fillmore in San Francisco on Monday 05, Wednesday 07, Friday 09 and Saturday 10 December. (These links are to the official ‘recap’ videos on Metallica’s YouTube channel—over two and a quarter hours of Metallica and friends.)
Metallica took up a residency at The Fillmore and essentially became the house band for the week, to which they invited friends and former Metallica band mates to come join them and play both their own music and covers.
It was really great to see Dave Mustaine (Megadeth/ex-Metallica) on stage playing with them, and Jason Newsted too. Wonderful to hear John Bush (Armored Saint/ex-Anthrax) singing with the band, whom apparently Metallica wanted to join them as their vocalist in the early days. As well as all their other guests, including King Diamond (Mercyful Fate), Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Sean Harris and Tatler (Diamond Head), Animal (The Anti-Nowhere League), Lou Reed, Glenn Danzig (Misfits and Danzig), Marianne Faithfull, John Marshall (Metal Church), Biff Byford, Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains), Bob Rock and more and more.
I’ve been listening to Metallica since 1986, when their third album Master of Puppets came out (I first listened to it at a Scripture Union camp!), and I don’t think I’ve ever heard Metallica play so well live as they did during those four shows. James Hetfield’s voice especially. Wow! And how heartening to see James Hetfield so well, and confident in himself.
I’d love there to be a DVD released of these shows.
You can buy digital versions of the four concerts on the Live Metallica website for US$9.95 (MP3) or US$12.95 (FLAC and Apple Lossless formats). Having listened to them all, they are well worth it: full of great music, great chat, and great humour.
There’s also a great review of the gigs on the Metallica news page, and of course following the 30th anniversay shows they released the Beyond Magnetic EP which contains the four ‘new’ songs (recorded during the Death Magnetic sessions) they played during the four nights in San Francisco: one each night.
Beyond Magnetic EP will be released on CD worldwide on 30 January, and in North America (who apparently aren’t part of the world!) on 31 January.
WARNING: There are some sweary words in the following post. They are not my sweary words—obviously, I never swear (ahem!). I’m just quoting them.
Without a shadow of a doubt Lamb of God are one of my favourite bands. Their new album Resolution is scheduled to be released in approx. 18 days’ time. I’m very excited.
Well, their vocalist, D. Randall (Randy) Blythe has announced that he is standing for US President in 2012.
“It’s 2012 now, the year some are saying the Mayan calendar predicts a cataclysmic upheaval across the board for our planet, perhaps even the end of the world as we know it. I don’t know if these doomsday predictions have any validity, but I do know one thing: the potential candidates in the race to decide who will be elected President of the United States look like pure shit.
“I’m not particularly stoked on any of the candidates. In a massive blow to our civil rights, Obama quietly signed the NDAA for the fiscal year 2012 into law while Americans drank in their party hats on New Year’s Eve. The GOP is parading around a bunch of ass-clowns in what has got to be the most embarrassing primary season in the history of their party. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse than Sarah Palin, they bust out that lunatic Michele Bachmann. I have no clue what the Libertarians are up to now that Ron Paul is gunning for the Republican nomination. Probably loading their guns and preparing for the worst.
“Don’t even get me started on our current Congress, THE WORST CONGRESS I HAVE EVER SEEN OR HEARD OF IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. It’s a relentless bipartisan pissing contest in Washington where not only is nothing getting done, nothing is ALLOWED to get done. There’s a bunch of squabbling children in Washington in charge of the business of running our country. These baboons are stopping any useful litigation from occurring by engaging in an endless game of “I know you are, but what am I?”. There is very little compromise happening in DC, and there is very little regard for the welfare of the American people. It’s PATHETIC.
“Something has got to change. America is falling to pieces around us and we are sitting back and letting it happen. We need someone to come in and REALLY take charge, someone who can’t be bought by corporate dollars because he doesn’t need or want ‘em. Someone who is not going to bullshit the country or the rest of the world about what’s going to go down when he steps into office, because he LIKES pissing people off and doesn’t give a shit about hurting anyone’s feelings. We need a man who is not afraid to stick his neck out and risk embarrassing himself while doing the right thing, a man, in fact, INCAPABLE of embarrassment anymore PERIOD because he’s ALREADY done almost every stupid WRONG thing you can think of at one time or the other. We need a hard-boiled, no-nonsense, mean son-of-a-bitch with a bad reputation who ain’t afraid to cock-whip the shit out of some randomly selected pussy-ass billionaire on live tv during his annual State of the Union Address just to make a point and let the mega-rich know that NO ONE is above the law here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. In short, we need a man who just DOES NOT GIVE A FUCK.
“America, that man is me.”
So, lets just assume that all goes to plan and Uncle Randy gets elected. What would be his first act as the 45th President of the United States of America?
“My first act as President of the United States will [be] to be shot. That’s right, SHOT. With a high-powered assault rifle. Immediately after taking the oath of office, I will be escorted about twenty yards away and be shot publicly in a non-lethal area of my body by a highly trained Navy SEAL sniper. It will hurt like fuck.”
Blythe says he will do this because he doesn’t expect anyone in the armed forces to do anything he wouldn’t.
“Me being shot will be broadcast live world-wide via satellite, with no bleeping out of the incredible string of curse words I will undoubtedly let fly with. I will be required to walk/limp/crawl on my own power a minimum of 50 yards through the mud to an ambulance that will take me away to patch me up. If I can’t make it on my own, I’m not tough enough to be your President.
“After all the nations in the entire world witness America’s new President, an insane looking heavily tattooed freak, getting shot ON HIS OWN ORDER as soon as he takes office, then crawling all bloody to an ambulance, cussing the whole way and screaming pure hate in a monstrous voice tortured by years of touring and Marlboro Reds, they will think twice before fucking with us,” he adds.
“Among his impressive list of promises are to:
Take 13 weeks of Marine Corps training.
Kill an enemy prisoners in hand-to-hand combat.
Kill the first enemy of any war.
Change the rules of engagement so troops can shoot before the enemy strikes.
Kick some ass.
Blythe appears to focus on foreign policy rather than discuss economic issues, suggesting he may be better suited for the role of Secretary of State.
His slogan? “Fuck the dumb shit. Let’s get real here.”