It's been over two years since Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease that has forced him to miss out on both live shows and studio work ever since.
He is now temporarily replaced by Gary Holt from Exodus until the full recovery is reached, but according to guitarist Kerry King, that time might not come anywhere in the near future. King has described the current situation as a "wait-and-see thing", meaning that both the band and the fans need to be patient and hope for the best.
"If he came in, knocked on my door in five minutes and said, 'Hey dude, I'm ready, let's go practice', I'd say, 'Good, get your gear, let's go practice'. But until that day comes, I've gotta cover Slayer's butt and have his gig filled in", the guitarist tells Themusic.com.au.
"'Cause I don't want it to be a carousel, where there's, if Gary can't do it we get somebody else and if he can't do it we get somebody else again. I want to have continuity. We told Gary when our schedule is and said, 'Please keep it open', because we don't know when Jeff's gonna be able to play guitar. Jeff's kind of like a wait-and-see thing."
King has also expressed his hope for releasing a new album during 2013, adding that we might be in for something slightly different this time around.
"I think it's pretty much Slayer. As a guitar player I try to come up with things I've never heard us do or maybe I've never heard anybody else do, but still in the parameters of super heavy music. If you get a surprise, I would say chances are it's still heavy; you're just not used to hearing heavy in that way".
As far as the current state of metal music goes, King describes it as "status quo", with no proper "suitor to the throne" in sight.
"It seems to me like it's just cruising along, status quo. I'm yet to see anything new that's like a threat, not even a threat, like the next suitor to the throne. You've first got your Maiden, Sabbath and Priest and then you've got Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament and bands like that. After that, there's a lot of bands, but I don't think anybody's the chief, you know what I mean?"
We are all hoping for Jeff Hanneman's fastest possible recovery, but what are your opinions on the other subjects? Wondering what the new album will sound like? And do you agree that there really is no "suitor to the throne" of metal music at this moment? Let us know in the comments section below.