Slayer’s co-founder and guitarist Jeff Hanneman died of liver failure in May 2013, leaving the future uncertain for the band that had been touring without him since he contracted necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease) in 2011.
Yet after consistently touring with Exodus’ Gary Holt filling in before and after Hanneman’s death, that future became clearer once Slayer released its new album, “Replentless” in September 2015.
The thrash metal giants return to The Fillmore on Monday with Testament and Carcass. Vocalist/bassist Tom Araya recently took a break from transcribing tunes the band is adding to its set to talk about moving on, “Repentless,” and why you’re never too old for metal.
Q. How do you feel about the album now that you’ve had some time to step away from it?
A. I think it sounds great. I was really reluctant in the process. (Guitarist) Kerry (King) took it upon himself to write everything. I had to make sure it sounded like Slayer and I did. When you just listen to the music, its fast music and I’m thinking, “What’s this going to sound like?” I took a lot of time on the vocals and making sure I was happy with what I was doing. I rewrote some stuff, and in the end, this is Slayer. I like this.
Q. Did staying out on the road help you cope with the loss?
A. It does. It puts you in a different place. You’re focused and you have other things on your mind. Initially when Jeff was out of commission, I wanted to put everything on pause. I hate to say this, with the music business at this stage and this level we’re at, there’s a lot of people involved and everybody wants their money. We went ahead and pushed forward and asked Gary to sit in while trying to reach out to Jeff in the meantime to see if he was making any attempts to get his playing arms back. You just keep doing it.
Q. What’s it been like with Gary and (returning drummer) Paul Bostaph?
A. Gary has made life very tolerable in Slayer. Having Paul back has made it amazing because we didn’t lose anything. We regained an existing Slayer member.
Q. My 6-year-old heard “Raining Blood” and it was like an epiphany. Do you recall having that kind of moment?
A. When Kerry called me up and said, “Hey, I’m putting a band together and I want to see if you want to play bass and sing,” he gave me a list of songs that he was rehearsing with (former drummer) Dave (Lombardo) and Jeff. The only band I didn’t know was Iron Maiden. I went out and bought the album. I thought this was (expletive) amazing. Maiden kind of made me do that.
Q. Some people stop listening to metal when they get older. As someone who’s devoted to hard-edged music at 54, do you have a theory about why or why not?
A. I don’t like hearing that people outgrow music. I come across a lot of fans. When they find out who I am, because people will recognize me, they’ll say, “I used to listen to you,” and they will name off earlier records. I’ll just look at them and say, “What do you mean used to?” They say, “I’m older, I got kids.”
You’re never too old to listen to any kind of music. I frown. “You’re making yourself older than you really are.”
(My) kids growing up had to listen to whatever music we listened to. They’ve grown up liking the music we play, ’60s bands, heavy stuff, country. Now that they’re older (19 and 16) they have a preference, but they can enjoy other (styles of) music. People create these generation gaps (when they) don’t let the kids listen to what they listen to.
Q. So what do your kids listen to?
A. My son gravitated toward heavier-edged music. My daughter gravitated toward not-so-heavy music. She likes all the Twenty-One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco. My son likes Van Halen, all the heavier stuff.
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Where: The Fillmore, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.
Details: 704-916-8970; www.fillmorecharlottenc.com.