These intergalactic GMO mutants honor two things: metal and cheeseburgers. See how Earthly gear guideposts Iommi and Butler influence their tasty setups.
If you were to ask my wife, “What two things sum up Chris?” … she’d likely respond with “grilled meats and heavy metal.” So, given the chance to interview the self-appointed (and unchallenged) founders of “Drive-Thru Metal” that solidified their crispy claim with classic cuts “Frying Pan,” “Sweet Beef,” and “Pair-a-Buns,” I ordered a full plate.
The thing is, you don’t just interview guitarist Slayer MacCheeze and bassist Grimalice. Not because they’re from the “bowels of outer space” and don’t speak or understand English. They converse quite well. But these seasoned freaks don’t do anything for free. Everything’s on the menu and it’s all for sale. Thankfully, minutes before doors opened at Nashville’s longstanding rock beacon, Exit/In, Mac Sabbath’s techs Bill Woodcock and Jonathan Hischke summarized their monster masters’ tangy tone tools. The flash-fried, seedy conversation quickly taps some key signature gear of another Sabbath that equally sweetens and thickens the band’s sound like a condensed and chilled milkshake. Plus, there’s a story about how one fateful Black Friday deal provided an iconic, golden-arch bass. Here’s to a fun-hearted Rundown with the Milky Way marauders that fight back against stale food and rotten riffs. And by the end, we bet you’ll be saying “I’m loving it.”
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“I don’t know much about these guitars, but legend has it, Slayer MacCheeze came through the time-space continuum with a guitar in each hand,” states MacCheeze tech Bill Woodcock. With no help from Woodcock, we can deduce this devilish doublecut has an eerie lineage descending from (or influenced by) an early 2000s Gibson Tony Iommi SG that was possibly grabbed during the first full production run of signature models for the other Sabbath’s riff lord. This cherry cruiser rides in standard tuning, and all Slayer’s beefeaters take Ernie Ball 2223 Super Slinkys (.009–.042) for optimal cheese shredding.
From Parts Unknown
This blackheart has some DNA particles from the Iommisphere, but has been updated and intensified with a set of active EMGs that char MacCheeze’s sound to a well-done crisp. This is Slayer’s main C# guitar.
The Wham of That Burger Man
Slayer decided to do some covers on this run (Kiss and Motorhead), and he needed something unusual for those special songs. So, MacCheeze tricked his tech Bill to borrow the hammer of the gods of ground chuck—his Gibson Custom Shop ’64 Lonnie Mack Flying V. The whammy bar that was Mack’s signature addition to his Vs has been removed for use as a spatula.
After several tours supported by a Soldano Avenger—a 50W head featuring the heralded SLO-100 circuit—MacCheeze is plugging into this Marshall 1987X 50W plexi reissue, because the Avenger was burnt to a crisp during rehearsals. The modern plexi hits a custom 2x12 cab and a Fender 4x12 that was a cabinet for a solid-state M-80, but appears to have been customized by a stripe-shirted burger bandit who later sold it to MacCheeze.
Woodcock—not knowing how to make a Marshall melt like a Soldano or even a Laney LA100 BL—uses this JHS Little Black Amp Box to attenuate the plexi so it can sizzle like a SLO-100.
Slayer MacCheeze’s Pedalboard
The Soldano Avenger required no pedals (other than the Vox 847A Wah). However, Woodcock scrambled to build this board for big Mac. The burger man has a tray of greasy tone treats including a TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster, Ernie Ball Ambient Delay, Dunlop FFM2 Germanium Fuzz Face Mini, and an Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer. Wireless and tuning duties are covered by the Shure GLXD16 Guitar Pedal Wireless System, allowing MacCheeze to shred here, there, and everywhere.
Taste Bud Cashes In on Turkey Day
Like his guitar-playing weirdo brethren, Grimalice (an overgrown and questionable taste bud) refused to talk to PG, but we found Ampeg-hoodie-wearing grifter Jonathan Hischke nearby and convinced him to cover peculiar purple’s setup. Shady character Hischke believes Grimalice scored this unique M-style bass during a Thanksgiving Day sale at Sweetwater. It’s completely stock except for the fretboard being painted barn-red, leaving the playing surface tacky as tar. Don’t let Grimalice’s lackadaisical demeanor fool you. He likes a good tussle when tangoing with his instruments.
Did Somebody Say M?
It’d be hard for any human or alien to miss these golden arches from this solar system or beyond.
Never Say Fry
If Grimalice was from this universe, you could understand why he’d have a 4-string modeled after a ’70s custom piece used by Geezer Butler for Black Sabbath’s Top of the Pops performance of “Never Say Die.” But he’s not lord of this world nor from it, so we must assume this stripped stallion that has more definition than a Merriam-Webster Dictionary gets worked for the lower-tuned jams.
Grimalice has never met an animal he wouldn’t grill, fry, or sauté, and a bat is no exception. So flying vermin decorate his fingers’ dancefloor.
The large, lavender governor of gustation plugs his doom brooms into a Fender Bassman 100T bruiser that feeds an Acoustic B410C that seems to have come from the same sandwich-stealing gear hoarder that sold Slayer his M-80 4x12.
Putting all the toppings on his beefy bottom-end are these to-go boxes that include a DigiTech FreqOut, an Electro-Harmonix Steel Leather Bass Expander, a Doc Lloyd Photon Death Ray compressor, a Broughton Audio Always On High Pass Filter, an Aguilar Tone Hammer preamp, an EarthQuaker Devices Park Fuzz Sound, a Behringer BEQ700 Bass Graphic Equalizer, a Mantic Effects Vitriol, and a Dunlop Geezer Butler Cry Baby Bass Wah. And like MacCheeze, Grimalice employs a Shure GLXD16 Guitar Pedal Wireless System.
What separated Jeff from the rest of the metal pack was his rhythm technique, his songwriting, and that for which he will be most remembered—his riffs.
It was L.A.'s hottest day of the year, soon to segue into one of metal's biggest nights—the Revolver Golden God Awards fifth-anniversary show—when a very sad rumor spread amongst those of us in town to attend the event. Soon it would be confirmed as true via an official statement from Slayer: Founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman—who'd suffered from a tragic necrotizing fasciitis infection that prevented him from playing with Slayer since early 2011—had passed away a few hours earlier from liver failure. The world had just lost a voice hugely influential in metal and beyond.
Jeff had a subtle sense of humor that was all his own, and though he was a bit more reserved than the rest of the Slayer camp, he viewed life as a party to be enjoyed to its fullest. Much of what Jeff’s loved ones and fans appreciated about him was his steadfast and genuine style—the fact that he didn’t stray from his own vision. In Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman’s Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, Jeff is quoted, “I tried to emulate what [well-known shredders] did and really grow as a guitarist. Then I said, ‘I don’t think I’m that talented, but more important, I don’t care.’” But as legions of dedicated Slayer fans the world over would attest, Jeff’s portrayal of himself as marginally talented is completely inaccurate. A more apt description could be summed up in one word, "immense."
What separated Jeff from the rest of the metal pack was his rhythm technique, his songwriting, and that for which he will be most remembered—his riffs. But his frenzied, turbulent solos were also an important part of the package. They weren’t about showing off. They served a greater artistic purpose—to sonically channel the qualities of Slayer’s lyrical content. They were sometimes abrasive, sometimes jarring, and at times disturbing. They had less in common with typical rock-guitar virtuosos than they did with the sonic collages of avant-garde improvisers such as Derek Bailey and John Zorn, the latter of whom is a self-professed Slayer fan who has cited the band as an inspiration. Though Jeff’s wider, more holistic guitar approach didn’t garner the same accolades as some of his more technically proficient contemporaries, Jeff never waivered from his original approach. And the fact that he continued to attack his guitar with relentless abandon—as though he were a linebacker on his beloved Oakland Raiders (whose logo adorned some of his signature ESP guitars)—is without a doubt a big part of why Slayer’s music will always be deemed one of metal’s high watermarks.
If you’ve ever seen Slayer live, you’ve felt exactly what propelled the band’s popularity past those of Venom and other classic-metal influences. In fact, prior to Hanneman and his bandmates’ groundbreaking albums—including 1986’s bar-setting Reign in Blood—many believed metal could never reach such levels of popularity and fan dedication. Before Slayer, metal had never had such razor-sharp articulation, tightness, and balance between sound and stops. This all-out sonic assault was about the shock, the screams, the drums, and—again, most importantly—the riffs. And it was Hanneman who brought so many of the band’s timeless riffs.
Of course, one cannot dismiss the voracious riff and song output of co-guitarist Kerry King, who, with his giant spiked wristbands, goatee, and shaved, tattooed head, essentially became the “face of Slayer.” But if you took a poll of the band’s fans—from dedicated concertgoers to peers and professional music journalists—their favorite Slayer songs would likely be dominated by pulverizing Hanneman gems like “Angel of Death,” “Raining Blood,” “South of Heaven,” “War Ensemble,” “Dead Skin Mask,” “Seasons in the Abyss,” and “Die by the Sword.” To many fans of heavy music, these songs and riffs aren’t just definitive of the band, but of metal itself.
Had Jeff recovered from his medical challenges, one can fully envision him confronting his demons head-on with songs about spider bites, skin grafts, and flesh-eating bacteria. Tragically, all we are left with is his memory and monumental songs and riffs that will reign in metal fans’ blood forever. By being true to himself and expressing his own unique style, Jeff Hanneman ended up doing what most musicians will never do—he impacted music in such a way that an entire genre will never be the same.
Slayer''s 1995 Divine Intervention tour is chronicled
For metalheads, seeing Slayer live for the first time is a cathartic experience. Their concerts are legendarily intense, with a non-stop barrage of punk-infused thrash that the band pioneered decades ago. Until recently, getting to see Slayer live had been easier than tracking down their long-out-of-print live DVDs, 2003’s War at the Warfield and 2004’s Still Reigning. Slayer fans have long suspected video footage of the band’s March 12, 1995, performance existed, and the notion was reinforced by statements from fellow metal bands Machine Head and Biohazard. The band has decided to reissue these coveted videos with an additional, unreleased volume entitled Live Intrusion, which shows the band during their 1995 Divine Intervention tour.
The video shooting style here, while paying equal attention to each member of the band, is frustratingly typical of mid-’90s rock videos—there are way too many viewpoint changes to focus on anything, including the great set list. As annoying as that is, you could argue that it represents the chaotic nature of the band’s live show. Both the video and sound quality stand up well, especially for a recording made over 15 years ago on a high-end VHS master tape. One of the disc’s real treats is the cover Venom’s classic “Witching Hour,” which finds the band being joined onstage by Machine Head’s Robb Flynn and Chris Kontos. That performance is almost worth the price of admission alone.