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Kerry King On Slayer Breaking Up: 'That Livelihood Got Taken Away From Me'

7 January 2023 | 11:16 am | Mary Varvaris

"Do I miss playing? Yeah, absolutely."

(Pic by Martin Hausler)

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Thrash metal icons Slayer broke hearts around the globe when they announced their disbandment in early 2018 after gigging hard for 37 years and releasing 12 studio albums. 

We were lucky enough to catch the band headline Download Festival down under in 2019, where we remarked: "Time has not withered Tom Araya's voice, it hasn't slowed down Paul Bostaph's feet or hand work on the kit, nor has the passing of the years affected Kerry King's right-hand-of-god picking technique; chugging out riffs, squealing whammy's and dive-bombs galore along with Gary Holt and his own self-blood-stained signature guitar." Read the rest of the festival review here.

While we were sad to witness the final-ever Australian Slayer shows, Kerry King felt another emotion: anger. 

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In a new interview with Metal Hammer, the legendary co-lead guitarist explained that he felt "Anger… what else?" towards the band's initial breakup conversations. "It was premature. The reason I say ‘premature’ is because my heroes from my childhood are still playing! I can still play, I still want to play, but that livelihood got taken away from me."

He continued, "But, anyway, on to the next chapter, I guess. We were on top of the world, and there’s nothing wrong with going out on top of the world; it’s a good way to go out. So, bravo for that. But do I miss playing? Yeah, absolutely."

Slayer didn't issue a sole reason for their disbandment. However, it's believed that Tom Araya was done with performing, citing numerous health issues which affected him physically.

Witnessing Araya's solemn goodbyes at Download Festival in Melbourne, it's unsurprising to learn that the final shows were emotional roller coasters for Slayer. "Every one of those shows was a bummer!" King said. “We were going to all these places and all these cities where we have all this history. It’s a bummer to think, ‘I’m not gonna see my friends there again.’ You’d get to that country and know you were going to see these people, and you’d see them yearly.”

He concluded, "I haven’t seen them now in three years. That sucks. And the fans, too. Slayer means a lot to our fans, and they mean a lot to us. I know I will see these people again, but no Slayer leaves a big hole for a lot of people." Order Metal Hammer online to read more.