California thrash metal legends SLAYER have spent the last year and half touring without guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who is still recovering from necrotising fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease, which he is believed to have gotten from a spider bite. At last year's "Big Four" concert in Indio, California, Hanneman joined the band onstage for a two-song encore, but he hasn't yet been able to tour again.
Asked if Jeff's absence has delayed the recording process for SLAYER's new album, the band's other guitarist, Kerry King, told Artisan News (see video below), "Not yet. We've recorded very little. We got a little bit done. We had a 12-day window where we hijacked [producer] Greg Fidelman from METALLICA and worked with him a little bit. So we've got two [new songs] done; they've gotta be mixed. We've got two other ones that need vocals and leads. [There are] three other demos and three other [tracks] we still have to demo. But [this summer's Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival tour] is the last thing we're doing, so hopefully we'll get [the rest of the album] done before we pick up and tour again in October."
Hanneman did not take part in the recent recording sessions, but his absence did not affect the new labum's scheduling since King typically records all the basic guitar parts himself.
Regarding whether he ever thought one of his bandmates would get sidelined by such a rare condition, King said, "You hear about it, but I didn't even think we had that kind of spider in California. And I really think at the end of the day it's a speculation, because his arm was so fucked up, I can't imagine them even finding where they think it started, if you had my opinion. But, you know, that flesh-eating stuff, you can get scratched by a nail, you can get scratched by anything, and if you don't take care of it, it's gonna turn into something like that. But whatever got him, that is what happened — he had had the disease."
Hanneman is being temporarily replaced on the road by EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt, who has been described by King as "the Glenn Tipton of our era — really good, really polished and nobody talks about him. To this day, nobody really references [JUDAS] PRIEST and Tipton that much as guitar players and I feel the same way about Gary. EXODUS have a huge following but a little more overlooked than METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER, ANTHRAX — the 'Big Four,' so to speak, so [it's great] to be able to bring him to the forefront and shove him down people's throats and say, 'Hey, this motherfucker kicks ass. Pay attention.'"