Slayer frontman sees positives after back surgery and confirms Hanneman is winning health battle and already contributing to new album


Back in action: Slayer

Tom Araya has got over the “bummer” of not being able to headbang any longer – and believes it’s made him a better musician.

The Slayer frontman’s onstage antics were brought to an end in 2010 after he was forced to undergo back surgery, which left a metal plate in his neck, leaving him unable to throw his head about in his trademark manner.

But he insists he’s put the experience behind him and he’s looking forward to working on the band’s twelfth album, along with guitarist Jeff Hannemann, who was sidelined a year ago after a spider bite resulted in him contracting necrotising fasciitis, which wasted the flesh in his arm.

Araya tells The Quietus: “I just can’t headbang. I just can’t do the things that I’d normally be doing on stage – going crazy, flipping my head. After the surgery it was a bummer, but I got over that. I like to think I’ve improved as a singer and as a player. I focus more on that, and making sure my performance is one hundred percent.”

After some doubt over whether the thrash giants would make another record, the vocalist and bassist says two of the band, guitarist Kerry King and drummer Dave Lombardo, are already laying down the groundwork.

He explains: “Because I’m sick, I don’t want to fly our and make everybody sick, so my joining in the process is going to be on pause until I get better.

“Jeff is recording and writing with us on the album. He can still play, and he is rehearsing with us. It’s just that he needs to get his chops up before he joins us live again.”

Hanneman could return as early as May, when Slayer perform classic album Reign In Blood in full in London. “It would be fucking awesome,” Araya says. “But we have to take it one day at a time. He has the ability to play but he needs to really work at it. So we have to make sure he’s at his best before he comes out and tours with us.”

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