Since the untimely death of Slayer guitar legend Jeff Hanneman, fans have been questioning whether or not the band would be able to continue on. As the main songwriter of the pioneering thrash act, Hanneman left a massive hole in Slayer, but fellow guitarist Kerry King is determined to make it work, already having penned an album's worth of material and feeling "more prepared than I've been before any record."

In an exclusive interview we conducted with Slayer's Tom Araya, the frontman shared that in his mind, Hanneman was "90 or 95-percent of the band." That being the case, it's no short order to fill that gap, even for a seasoned songwriter like Kerry King. However, King remains optimistic, as evidenced in a new interview with Metal Hammer.

"I've got assloads of songs!" King begins. "I mean, I'm more prepared than I've been before any record, working on this material for three years. Me and Paul [Bostaph, drums] have demoed 11 songs. I'm sitting on 14 or 15 songs and I've got seven complete with lyrics already. I'm in great shape!"

King continues, "I can't pretend to be Jeff. We both learned from each other in 30 years of writing together. As far as going out of my way to write something that Jeff might've done? I won't do that. If it happens to end up sounding that way, good for me!"

Since Hanneman's death, Slayer have delved into the late shredder's audio files, toying with the possibility of including some unheard Hanneman material on the new record, but as of now, the band is still undecided. "I've said, and I'll continue to say, that if we use any of Jeff's songs, I don't want it to come out just because Jeff wrote it," King comments. "I want it to come out because it's awesome. We've just got to put out something that I think Jeff would be proud of."

Finally, King shares his desired timeline of events. "In a perfect world, which is never what happens in Slayer, me and Paul plan on continuing to play to keep our chops up, and if we can get everybody on board, I want to start in January and have a record out before the summer." [via Blabbermouth]

Stay tuned for more updates on Slayer's new album. To read the full interview with Kerry King, pick up the latest issue of Metal Hammer magazine.