SLAYER have already written 10 songs for their next studio album, tentatively due before April 2004, the group revealed to MTV.com. Five of the songs have been jammed out by guitarist Kerry King and drummer Dave Lombardo, two other have been penned by guitarist Jeff Hanneman and recorded using a drum machine, and the remaining three are less developed. The band hope to finish the tunes before embarking on the Jägermeister Music Tour in October and enter a Los Angeles studio in early December.
"It's gonna sound like a band that starts with the letter 'S' and ends with 'R,' " joked singer/bassist Tom Araya.
"The songs that me and Dave are working on are very traditional, thrashy stuff with breaks that come out of nowhere," King said. "Most of it's really fast. The other day, we started working on a song that had a groovy, almost rock and roll chorus, and it kind of concerned me. Now there's a fast part there."
Although the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the violence that's erupted in the Middle East seem like natural lyrical subjects for a band like SLAYER, King was insistent that he will steer clear of anything that would seem too obvious.
"All that stuff is what everybody else is gonna write about, so I'll avoid it like the plague," King said. "When we wrote 'War Ensemble', that wasn't about any given conflict. It lets it be timeless. And I think that's more important than writing about individual issues that 15 billion bands are already gonna address."
SLAYER are planning on completing the songwriting process for the new album before they embark on the Jägermeister tour with HATEBREED on October 10. However, don't expect the band to be road-testing any songs during the trek.
"That just doesn't work," King said. "We tried that around the time we wrote [the 1990 album] 'Seasons in the Abyss'. We played 'War Ensemble'. And if you play something fast, people think they like it, and they're trying to have a good time, but it's so fast in that environment, you can't tell what's going on. If we had something slow that you could catch, it would probably work, but I don't know if there's gonna be anything that slow."