Kerry King didn’t ask Gary Holt to play on his solo record because he was worried it would be regarded as “Slayer Lite”

“I love Gary. He’s a great player. But I already had my one dude from Slayer I was definitely keeping.”

Gary Holt and Kerry King on stage in 2015. They're both playing guitar and standing in front of a flaming background.

Image: Gary Miller / Getty

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Kerry King’s solo album From Hell I Rise lands this week, and he nearly asked fellow Slayer guitarist Gary Holt to join his band to record it.

Things became a little confusing at the Slayer camp earlier this year after the thrash metal outfit, who had formerly said they were calling it quits in 2019, announced their return at three US festivals later this year – Louder Than Life, Riot Fest and Aftershock.

It’s still unclear whether these will be the only reunion dates or if the band will be making a full comeback later down the line, but King made it clear at the time of their split that he wasn’t ready to retire yet, and took to making an album of his own.

Eventually, King recruited Death Angel vocalist Mark Osegueda, former Slayer drummer Paul Bostaph, former Vio-Lence and Machine Head guitarist Phil Demmel, and former Hellyeah bassist Kyle Sanders for the album. So, why did Holt not make the line up?

In an interview for the Spring 2024 print edition of Revolver, King explains, “I started to realise that the more pieces I take from Slayer, the more it’s gonna be called ‘Slayer Lite.’ I mean, of course it’s gonna sound like Slayer; I wrote 90 percent of the last record. But if I take less with me from Slayer, there’ll be less for people to stand on, as far as making lazy comparisons.

“If I had to do Slayer over again after [Jeff] Hanneman [who died in 2013], 110 times out of a 100, I would pick Gary Holt. He was the right guy. But the perception of people, it weighs on me, and I don’t want to deal with that,” he says.

“I love Gary. He’s a great player. But I already had my one dude from Slayer I was definitely keeping. And Phil had only played four gigs with Slayer, so that comparison wasn’t going to be there; also, he impressed the fuck out of me when he came out to do those Europe gigs. It was just a couple of days after his Machine Head tour had ended, and he learned 18 or 20 of our songs on short notice.

He goes on to add, “He also had to learn our stage tempos, and where the pyro was. If Judas Priest had asked me to come out in four days and figure all that out, I couldn’t have done it. But Phil did it for us.”

Find out more about King’s solo project and view his upcoming live dates.

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