Nearly a year after Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman died, the thrash-metal group has debuted "Implode," its first new song since 2009, at Revolver magazine's Golden Gods Awards. The song plays out like classic Slayer, with a slow, doomy intro riff followed by galloping speed-metal rhythms. Vocalist-bassist Tom Araya sings the sort of lyrics the band's fans would expect, covering darkness, resurrection and, ultimately, the "extermination of mankind" over the course of the four-minute song. Guitarist Kerry King takes an extended solo for a wah-inflected lead before ending the song with a squeal.
After the show, Slayer made a studio recording of "Implode" available on their website. The group, which intends to begin recording a new album with a tentative early 2015 release date, tracked the song in Los Angeles earlier this month with producers Terry Date and Greg Fidelman. It will release the album via its own yet-unnamed imprint in association with record label Nuclear Blast, effectively ending Slayer's nearly three-decade relationship with Rick Rubin and his label, American Recordings.
"Rick has played a huge role in our career [and] we've made some great albums with him," Araya said in a statement. "But today is a new day, record companies don't play the kind of role they once did, and we really like the idea of going out on our own, connecting directly with our fans, and Nuclear Blast is fired up about taking on that challenge with us."
The thrashers were the surprise openers at the Golden Gods, which also featured performances by Guns N' Roses, whose frontman Axl Rose received the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award, and Joan Jett, who took home the titular Golden God trophy. Other performers included Zakk Wylde, the Pretty Reckless and A Day to Remember.
Appearing as a sort of ringmaster, Marilyn Manson introduced Slayer with quotes from the Beatles' "Helter Skelter" and name-checking Satan, before saying, "Ladies and fucking gentlemen, Slayer." In addition to "Implode," the group performed fan favorites "South of Heaven" and "War Ensemble," as they had done on recent tours.
Slayer had written "Implode" with the hopes of including it on an unreleased EP meant to coincide with their appearance on the 2012 Mayhem Festival tour. "It's not directly connected to the Mayan Calendar, but everybody always talks about the world ending," King told ArtistDirect at the time. "Whether it's with war or disease, that's where I went with it."
Prior to Hanneman's death due to liver failure caused by alcohol-related cirrhosis, the group had been in a fractured state. Hanneman had contracted the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis in 2012 and, ever since, the group had hired Exodus guitarist Gary Holt to play his parts.
King told Rolling Stone last year that Hanneman had written a song called "Piano Wire," which didn't make the cut for their 2009 album World Painted Blood. "It wasn't as good as the other songs," King said. "I knew Jeff was going to work on the lyrics and get it done. He was always talking about reworking the song. When you try to make a song better, you pretty much have to deconstruct it to make it better. I know there are two other ones, which are incomplete things, which he had for 15 to 20 years. Those will come out." He added that there were two other Hanneman songs that needed to be reworked.
It is not clear if "Implode" is one of the songs Hanneman wrote. As of November 2013, King reported that he had finished the lyrics for seven songs and that he had demoed 11 songs with drummer Paul Bostaph. The band will be touring the U.S. and Europe this summer.
Slayer Tour Dates
5/9 Salt Lake City, UT The Great Salt Air
5/10 Denver, CO - The Fillmore
5/11 Billings, MT - Shrine
5/13 Kansas City, MO - Uptown Theatre
5/15 St Louis, MO - The Pageant
5/16 Milwaukee, WI - Eagles Ballroom
5/17 Columbus, OH - Rock on the Range