R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman

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I have very few musical entities a hold a candle to as much as Slayer, having been a fan of theirs for almost half of my lifetime and unquestionably regarding them as my favourite band of all time. Those who know me personally will know how much I dig their music, how they led me down the thrash path and undoubtedly shaped my musical vision as a teenager. Jeff Hanneman was one of driving forces behind Slayer’s musical legacy, writing some of their biggest songs. So naturally I’m sad to hear this news. Countless metal musicians owe their careers to the riffs laid down by Hanneman and co-lead guitarist Kerry King, a tag team we’ll never likely see held in such esteem again.

Here is ‘Seasons in the Abyss’. Crank this bastard up, loud and proud, and go insane.

R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman

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R.I.P. Chi Cheng

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I don’t normally leave comments on our obituaries, simply leaving a picture of the deceased and/or a video. But I feel I must say a few words here as this band meant so much to me as I got into rock and metal and still do to this day.

Chi Cheng might not have been the world’s most prominent bassist, but damn, his bass grooves were heavy, so much so it defined Deftones sound when it came to those ear-splitting moments. Needless to say, I was shocked to learn of his horrific car accident in 2008 that left him in a coma. He seemed to be on the long road to recovery, having made progress despite hitting obstacles along the way – hence why, as I’ve experienced, to suddenly have those hopes crushed in such fashion is so frustrating.

Our thoughts here go out to Chi’s immediate family and friends, and indeed the Deftones and anyone else close enough to him to know the real Chi. I can’t claim to be more than a fan, but Chi was never outspoken, never sought to create controversy around him, and always put his heart and soul into every record, and into everything he believed in; indeed into any time I was lucky to see. the Deftones prior to his tragic accident.

R.I.P. Chi

Remembering Joe Strummer – 10 years on

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This probably isn’t going to be the best tribute you’ll see today on Joe Strummer, who died on this day in 2002 aged 50, for reasons I’ll now describe. I feel slightly ashamed to say I was a bit of a latecomer to The Clash. Admittedly, not being born until 1984 meant I missed the punk rock explosion in the UK. In fact my first memory of The Clash was first listening to ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ when I was about 10 or 11 on an indie rock compilation. My teenage years drew me away from slightly away from punk rock and towards metal. Although my brother was keenly into punk and rock, and indeed we shared our different tastes in music, The Clash was strangely one that rarely came up, and that was despite their status. Joe’s death certainly caught me and a lot of other people by surprise. I was just getting into some of his later work, particularly The Mescaleros. I wasn’t overly aware of The Clash, but I certainly knew who Joe Strummer was.

As I always look out for something new, so I always look back retrospectively. It wasn’t until the opening chords of ‘Clash City Rockers’ greeted my ears while playing a Tony Hawk video game a few years back that The Clash finally stuck in my head. I’d heard White Riot, London Calling, Rock the Casbah, all a million times. This was immediately attention grabbing. Shortly after that, I owned the eponymous debut album, and its follow-up ‘Give ‘Em Enough Rope‘, and I haven’t looked back since. Connections with fellow, older music fans have taught me to appreciate the bands of yesterday, and you certainly can’t beat the originals.

So here’s a video of the band playing ‘Clash City Rockers’ on the BBC show ‘Something Else‘. On this day, ten years on from Strummer’s passing, let’s celebrate his firebrand stamp on punk rock that shaped the musical landscape forever. Hope Strummer is loudly bothering whoever, whatever it is up there.

Don’t complain.

Peter Clegg

Remembering Chuck Schuldiner – 10 years on

Today marks ten years since a brain tumour claimed the life of Death guitarist/vocalist, and all-round death metal pioneer Chuck Schuldiner, at the age of 34. It’s fair to say that his legacy and influence are stronger than ever, with countless up and coming bands arguably inspired by Schuldiner’s ever evolving take on the style he played a huge role in creating.
The recent reissues of landmark Death albums ‘Human’ and ‘Individual Thought Patterns’ are living proof that Death’s music has stood the test of time. I finally got round to listening to the reissue of ‘Human’ just a couple of weeks ago and not only does it sound as fresh as did when it was released (and indeed, when I first heard it for myself around eight years ago), but its so darn heavier than the majority of (death) metal (or what passes for it) these days. Everything about Death’s Human-era line-up was firing on all cylinders when that album was recorded. As Chuck steered death into a more technical, progressive future, he also changed his approach and insisted on recruiting session musicians, as opposed to being part of a full band as per the first three Death albums. And in guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert, both of cosmic progressive death metallers Cynic, he had two candidates who were absolutely ideal for the role, while bassist extraordinaire Steve DiGiorgio (of Sadus) completed the line-up. Such a line-up underlined Chuck’s perfectionism, but Death wouldn’t be Death without Chuck’s attention to detail.
Individual Thought Patterns’ continued Death’s progressive trend, again enlisting DiGiorgio, and replacing the Cynic guys with Gene Hoglan on drums and King Diamond’s legendary guitarist Andy LaRoque. Schuldiner further pushed the boundaries of what could be done with death metal, throwing into jazzy bass rhythms and supreme technicality than was more than ably performed by his backing band, especially so by DiGiorgio. It even turned Hoglan into the in demand name for numerous metal bands to call upon, such was the performance and the album’s impact.
I’ve only put primary focus on those albums given their recent reissuing. Death’s legacy reaches far beyond these albums, of course; their entire discography reads essential, and is full of classic metal anthems, namely ‘Zombie Ritual’ (from 1987’s ‘Scream Bloody Gore’); and Crystal Mountain (from 1995’s ‘Symbolic’) just to name a few. Add to that the numerous bands and musicians who can count Death and Chuck Schuldiner as an influence and the evidence speaks for itself. Chuck Schuldiner was a progressive visionary, a talented genius and unconstrained by the boundaries which seem to shackle so many of Death’s descendants today. 10 years on from his death, Chuck Schuldiner remains death’s metal’s most important figurehead. Keep on rocking Chuck, wherever you are.
Peter Clegg