“As far as I was concerned, we were done and never going to play again”: Kerry King was as shocked as the rest of us when Slayer reunited

Kerry King 2023
(Image credit: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

Slayer guitarist Kerry King has said that he was just as taken aback as everybody else when the thrash metal legends announced their comeback.

In a statement sent to Guitar World, King revealed his surprise at the reunion when it was announced back in February.

The guitarist had stated just days prior in a Rolling Stone interview that he had not spoken to bassist/vocalist Tom Araya since the band’s 2019 retirement.

“I was very surprised,” King writes in his new statement.

“I made my comments [about Slayer being finished] based on [Araya] not wanting to play anymore.

“As far as I was concerned, we were done and never going to play again.

“To be honest, I don’t know what switched.”

King continues: “We’ve been turning down offers to play shows for at least three years. So, one came up that, I guess, enticed Tom to the point where he wanted to roll the dice and try a couple. I don’t know, but that’s all it is.”

In the same interview, King expressed his opinion that the death of fellow co-founding Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman contributed to Araya’s dissatisfaction in the band and his desire for them to split five years ago.

“If Jeff was still here, would there be another Slayer record? Who knows?” says King.

“I mean, Jeff weighed on Tom a lot, and I think Jeff not being around had a lot to do with Tom leaving Slayer.

“But, you know, if that fucking dumb-ass Jeff was still here, he’d be wanting us to play. I know he would.

“And if I played this album [King’s 2024 solo album, From Hell I Rise] for Jeff, he would fuckin’ love it.”

Slayer will play their first show in half a decade at Riot Fest in Bridgeview, Illinois, on September 22.

Two further live dates have been announced, taking place at Louder Than Life in Louisville, Kentucky, on September 27 and Aftershock festival in Sacramento, California, on October 10.

King has previously stated that the Slayer reunion will not see the band tour extensively.

He told Classic Rock History in May: “It’ll be cool to get together with Tom Araya and spit some hate out at people, but don’t get used to this being a yearly event.”

From Hell I Rise was released on May 17 to positive reviews.

King’s solo band will begin a tour of North America on July 19. See dates and get tickets via the guitarist’s website.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.