Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Few Thoughts About the Slayer Statues

Obviously Slayer is one of the most important and most intensely-followed acts in metal music history.  It's been reported in the past even doctors, engineers and law students have been found amongst Slayer's longtime supporters, aka the Slayer Wehrmacht. 

For all intents and purposes, this band is in shambles with the tragic passing of guitarist Jeff Hanneman and before that, the second (and assumedly final) departure of drummer Dave Lombardo.  While the embers continue to smolder between Lombardo and his former band, which gets heavy attention from my home base at Blabbermouth, I sit at my desk this morning with a crinkled mouth, furrowed eyebrow and a small sigh.

I have no qualms about the band continuing on with Exodus guitar ace Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph on the kit, who has already proven reliable for Slayer during his first stint in the group.  If you're going to push forward without two of the key components to your success (one by forced, unfortunate circumstances), then I can get down with keeping things in the family, as it were.  That is to say, bringing in brothers of the legendary Bay Area thrash zone.  While we await the new Slayer album, Exodus is about to drop their latest recording, Blood In, Blood Out with returning vocalist Steve "Zetro" Sousa, a controversial coup that found prior Exodus singer Rob Dukes suddenly without a job.

Now I've had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Araya, Dave Lombardo and even Gary Holt a couple times.  All of them were fun dudes and I'll never forget Araya admitting he was a Christian into my tape recorder.  That was a pretty awesome moment for me and Araya gave me quite a long chat.  Holt is a gas to talk with, albeit right now he's under fire and probably not as eager to rip it up, though I could be wrong. 

The Lombardo interview...  That was an interesting moment.  As a hack, can't even call myself an actual drummer, I was giddy beyond words when I was offered Dave Lombardo as an interview guest during Slayer's arena tour a few years back with Megadeth and Anthrax.  Lombardo and late Kiss drummer Eric Carr were my heroes growing up.  Unfortunately, time constraints being what they were, I was given five minutes on Slayer's bus with Lombardo, but I'll never forget each second of it. 

When I got on the bus, Jeff Hanneman was relaxing in the coach, strumming away with Led Zeppelin cranked and at least a hundred candles lit all around the bus.  I said hello to Jeff and he gave me a polite nod as I went to the rear of the bus with Dave.  I can't put into words what a quixotic moment that was for me and spooky now that Hanneman has passed.  The rest of the time found me slicing half of my interview questions for Dave and we knocked it out in hurried fashion because of the slim time allotment.  Both of us looked at each other with wide eyes and dry smirks at the end of our guerilla session.  I can't vouch for Dave, who answered what I had for him as thoroughly as he could within our timeframe, but I felt slightly cheated since we could've gotten a good bit of camaraderie going, given his upbeat responses to my questions.

This is what I think of as I see Slayer moving on and now reading about the release of three statues from Knuckle Bonz featuring Tom Araya, Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman.  No representation of Lombardo.  Suffice it to say, the bridges are well-burnt and at this point, you can forget asking Lombardo anything about Slayer any longer.  I feel for the guy, honestly, though as a journalist, I have to remain objective and let the dust settle where it may amongst the constituents.  On the other hand, I do find it objectionable there's no statue for Dave Lombardo, one of the greatest drummers in metal music that ever lived, while there is a statue for someone no longer amongst the living.  It's underhandedly capitalist, sorry to say.  Of course, if there was a statue for Lombardo, that would involve him in a place he's made no bones he wants no part of any longer. 

I'll leave it at that since it's not my place to comment any further upon the matter, though if you're a purist, it reeks that one cannot complete a collection (if one is so inclined to buy these statues) without Lombardo.  There's no taking away Slayer's legacy, but we're peeking in at a junction in the band where only two original members remain.  No matter how trusted and talented Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph are, their worthiness isn't the issue.  This band has been forever changed and three out of four statues as tribute to the team that gave the world Reign in Blood, Show No Mercy, South of Heaven, Seasons in the Abyss, World Painted Blood and others...it just doesn't sit right.

                       Listenin' to:  Opeth - Pale Communion

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