Artisan News caught up with new SLAYER guitarist Kerry King last month at the first-ever Rock & Roll Roast

at The Grove in Anaheim, California and asked him about the progress of the songwriting sessions for the band’s next album (see video below).

“We got back out [on the road] May 25 in Europe, then we’ll be back in the States, of course,” Kerry said. “Hopefully we’ll get in the studio to record [the new CD] before then, ’cause it’s time-consuming. We’re looking to get in March and April, so hopefully be done [recording] by the time [we have to go back out on tour].”

When asked if SLAYER has already composed any songs for the forthcoming album, Kerry said, “We’ve got some. I worked with Dave [Lombardo, drums] before the holidays. We’ve got three [songs] down. Obviously, that could change until it’s on the record, but I’ve got another one I’ve sent to him, and I’ve got, like, five or six others I’m just working on.”

In recent interview with U.K.’s Metal Hammer magazine, Kerry described the new material as “really refreshing and energetic.” He added, “One thing I can tell you is that the songs are shaping up in the classic SLAYER style. You won’t be hearing us doing acoustic stuff. [laughs]”

Kerry is hoping that Greg Fidelman, who co-produced 2009’s “World Painted Blood” with Rick Rubin, will be at the helm for the new album. “That’s the idea, anyway,” Kerry told Metal Hammer. “But it all depends on his availability. . . I don’t think we’ll spend long in the studio this time, either. We’re gonna do it old-school style and get things done fast. In fact, we are already ahead of schedule. The album will be ready for a summer release. But whether it’s put out at that time is down to the record label [American]. They might have other plans. But we want it with the fans during the summer.”

King also spoke about Hanneman’s current state of health. Jeff in January 2011 contracted necrotizing fasciitis, likely caused by a spider bite, and has been undergoing surgeries, skin grafts and intense rehab since. Not only did this effectively put him out of action for the whole year, it came close to killing him, Thankfully, he’s making a good recovery.

“Yeah, we could go onstage right now with him and do ‘Mandatory Suicide’,” Kerry said. “If that was the only song in our set, Jeff would be fine. But he’s slowly getting back to full fitness and by the time we’re ready to tour, he’ll be right back onstage with us.”

He added, “We always said we’d never entertain the idea of doing an album without [Jeff]. But there he is, getting those riffs ready!”

SLAYER will perform its classic 1986 album “Reign In Blood” in its entirety at All Tomorrow’s Parties’ second U.K. “I’ll Be Your Mirror” event, which is scheduled to take place n the weekend of May 25-27 at Alexandra Palace, London, England. A strange move, considering they’ve done this several times before.

“The organizers asked us to do it! If it were left up to me, then I’d have turned it down, simply because it’s been done, so why repeat it?” King said. “But it’s such a classic album that people always ask us to do it.”

SLAYER’s latest album, “World Painted Blood”, sold 41,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 12 on The Billboard 200 chart.