2016: The Year In Music

Slayer's Kerry King on Recording First Post-Jeff Hanneman Album: 'People Expect Us to Fail'

Chiaki Nozu/WireImage
Kerry King and Tom Araya of Slayer perform at Day 2 of the Sonisphere Festival at Knebworth Park on July 5, 2014 in Knebworth, England. 

Slayer guitarist Kerry King talks to Billboard about recording the band's new album, Repentless, without co-founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who died of liver failure in 2013.

How was it recording without Jeff Hanneman for Repentless?

The one weird thing was [not having] his presence and opinions. Me and Jeff wrote all the music that has ever been in a Slayer song. I know how to write Slayer music, but to write an entire record -- aside from a song [“Piano Wire”] of his that we used -- that’s a daunting thing to take on. I think we nailed it.

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Do you think that expectations are lower because the lineup is different?

People expect us to fail. I went about writing this like every record: I don’t say I want to blow people away; I go about making the next album its own entity and as good as I can. People will say it sucks without hearing it. They’re behind a computer, 20 feet tall and invincible.

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Are you already thinking about the follow up to this album?

We’ve got seven, eight or nine extras recorded toward the next one -- if we choose to do a next one. [The songs] are done with drums, bass and guitar. So unless they change, they only need vocals and leads. That’s way further ahead in the chain than we’ve ever been.

This story originally appeared in the Sept. 19 issue of Billboard.