Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman is still in recovery mode from the flesh-eating necrotizing fasciitis that's sidelined him since early 2011, but that's not keeping the thrash metal titans from eyeballing a new album -- a follow-up to 2009's "World Painted Blood."
Bassist/vocalist Tom Araya tells Billboard.com that, after Slayer wraps its run on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival in early August, "We'll probably get together and start writing together and start making a new album." He reports that there's already new material "floating around" from both Hanneman and guitarist Kerry King, and that Slayer has already reviewed some of the ideas before going on tour this year. "I think after (Mayhem) we'll just go back to the drawing board and take a look at what we've got and start putting it together. These days we're a bit more like, 'Let's see what comes out.' We don't chomp at the bit like we did in the early days. You just sort of have to let it happen and see what the end result is, and hopefully we'll like it...Everything we've done as a band has been like that -- 'Wow, let's do it.' We know the outcome is going to be good."
Araya says Hanneman is currently free of the disease and is now going through rehabilitation. "Jeff's had a long ordeal," the bassist says. "He's working on his playing ability, and that's something that's gonna take some time. He's working on strengthening his arm and his ability to play. He can play, but it's not for an extended period of time. Like anything else when you have some kind of not only muscle damage but nerve damage, it takes a bit for a lot of your functions to come back. They're not going to come back and easy and quick."
Araya says Exodus' Gary Holt has been doing a "fantastic job" filling in for Hanneman in concert, but he's looking forward to the day his longtime bandmate returns to the fold. "On this trip more than others it's dawned on me that he's not there," Araya explains. "The audiences have been very favorable, capacity crowds, really good. I just kind of look out and think, 'Jeff, God, where are you? You worked 30 years for this. You should be here.' He should be enjoying this part of his career. I can't wait for him to (be back)."