Slayer guitarist Kerry King talks staying true to the fans, and losing Jeff Hanneman

Slayer’s still reigning.

The legendary American thrash metal band was dealt a major blow earlier this year, when guitarist and founding member Jeff Hanneman died of liver failure on May 2.

However, guitarist Kerry King says the band is in the process of making a new record, Slayer’s 12th studio album since forming in Los Angeles in 1981.

“To me, it will be business as usual as it can be,” says King, 49, who is joined in Slayer by vocalist/bassist Tom Araya, drummer Paul Bostaph and touring guitarist Gary Holt.

“Usually by the time any idea was presented, I’d have finished it or Jeff would have it finished, so they were essentially finished songs. We’ll just move forward like that.

“Musically, I’m sitting on roughly 14 tunes that we can pick from and I’ve finished seven of those lyrically. I’m way ahead of the game compared to where I was for World Painted Blood (the band’s 2009 album).”

Slayer’s all about staying the course.

Since finding its form on 1986’s Reign in Blood, the band has consistently released records full of fast tremolo picking, double bass drumming, shouted vocals and lyrics so sinful they could make Satan himself blush.

“Fans don’t want you to change,” says King.

“How many fans do you think Metallica pissed off when they did Load and Reload? People like Slayer because it’s Slayer.

“You grow as a musician within your genre, not try and flip genres and become something else.”

Still, with the death of Hanneman, there are questions, like will Holt — who is also the lead guitarist in Exodus — play guitar on the new Slayer album?

“I’ve told Gary that I’d like him to play some leads, just to keep it interesting,” says King.

“We’ve always been a two guitar attack, so if you’re looking to have a segment like the Angel of Death lead trade-off, you can’t do that with one guitar.

“As far as Gary being a contributing writer, number one, fans aren’t ready for it, and number two, that’s like throwing somebody to the wolves.

“I think if there’s another record after this one and Gary is still with us at that point, I think that will be a time where I say, ‘Hey dude, feel free to throw any riffs my way if you’re interested’.”

Slayer is playing a cross Canada tour right now.

They stop at the Big Four Building, Nov. 3.

Advanced tickets are available for purchase on Ticketmaster.

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