Saturday, May 25, 2013

Raining Blood

Jeff Hanneman Memorial 
The Palladium, Los Angeles, California
May 23, 2013

I still don't have my head around this yet and I might not for awhile: An original member of Slayer is gone.  Despite the usual band trials and tribulations over the years, Slayer have always been SLAAAYER.  When I first saw them at venues like Ruthie's Inn we were all still pimply-faced teenagers.  The Metal Godz work in mysterious ways and approximately 10,585 days later my professional life involves SLAAAYER. However, I was still shocked and honored to receive a VIP invitation to Jeff's memorial.  As I drove to the memorial this started playing on the rental car radio:

Amazing, right?  "An unforeseen future nestled somewhere in time..."

The sadness of this day was made at least a little bit positive by all of the old friends who were in one place again.  There were at least a half dozen people in the VIP area who I've known since we were all teenagers.  Many other friends and acquaintances were also in the house who have entered my life over the years.  One of those old teenage friends later spoke from the podium about releasing Slayer's first two albums on his indie record label that's still called Metal Blade Records.

I'm not going to detail who said what from the podium since you can see and read about that all over The Internets by now.  I'm not going to list what Rock Stars and Metal elite were standing around me up in the balcony.  This event was so much bigger than all of that.  Who would have thought a public event associated with Slayer could be so overtly emotional?

As I said at the start of this rant, I still don't have my head around this day.  However, while typing this, some order has started to come out of the conflicted chaos that are my current thoughts and old memories.  When Cliff Burton passed away a million years ago we were all still young and he wasn't a legend yet.  His death represents an unfulfilled future to me.  When Paul Baloff passed away I wasn't following Metal at that time in my life so unfortunately I wasn't completely engaged with him leaving. His death represents an unfulfilled past to me.  Jeff Hanneman's death represents an unfulfilled present to me.  Slayer are still relevant here in the 21st Century.  If you don't agree then just choke on some Halestorm MP3s.  No, I don't know how to perform the heimlich maneuver.  To quote SLAAYEER:  "Before you see the light you must die.."

Best Quote:  "FUCK SPIDERS!!" - A random fan during one of the testimonials after Hanneman's battle with necrotizing fasciitis was mentioned.

While the testimonials were all heartfelt and powerful, the emotional highlight of the service for me came when the retrospective slideshow began. It was an extreme honor and also very surreal to have a few photos and some flyers from Murder In the Front Row included in the slideshow... and then magic happened.

As 'Raining Blood' started playing over the PA a massive pit opened up on the floor with everyone singing along.  I must have had something in my eyes.. but I wasn't crying, goddammit... (Yes I was...).  "Now I shall reign in blood!" felt more like a prayer than a war cry at that moment.  Amen.

Of all the things that came full circle on this day, my favorite one was the profound irony that Hanneman's memorial was being held in the same venue that Slayer was banned from playing.  Local L.A. Metal veterans still tell the story of when Slayer played The Palladium on the South Of Heaven Tour in 1988 (with Danzig supporting).  Fans who couldn't get into the sold out show rioted outside and Slayer were banished from The Palladium... just like Satan being cast out of Heaven in that book of ancient stories.  Full circle AND Jeff got the last laugh.

Number of times the Krokus song 'Screaming In The Night' was played over the PA = 2.  If you bought one of every Hanneman memorial merch item you would have paid $25, but all of the proceeds went to Music Cares.  Rest in peace and thank you, Jeff..

"Rancid Angel of Death... Flying free..."