Slayer have been through a lot in recent years. In 2011, guitarist Jeff Hanneman was bitten by a spider and contracted necrotizing fasciitis, which sidelined him from playing guitar and performing with the band. Then, 2013 saw the second departure of founding drummer Dave Lombardo, followed by the unexpected passing of Hanneman due to alcohol-related cirrhosis. Though they have found replacements in Exodus guitarist Gary Holt and former drummer Paul Bostaph, many naysayers think the band should call it a day. However, they did no such thing; the California thrashers picked themselves up and produced what can only be defined as a Slayer album.
Founding guitarist Kerry King recently said in a recent interview, “…I compare us to AC/DC because if you are an AC/DC fan you know what the record is going to sound like…” Truer words could not have been spoken about Repentless, the band’s 11th studio album. It is without a doubt a Slayer record; despite the absence of Hanneman and Lombardo. The outfit has crafted a great album that isn’t lacking in power and diversity. From the moment the first notes of opening track “Delusions Of Saviour” ring, you know you’re listening to Slayer. The instrumental sets the tone for the rest of the album, beginning with a slightly overdriven, ominous guitar line that leads to heavy, distorted guitars backed by thundering drums. The song is a great opening number that builds anticipation up until the final cymbal crash, which leads into the title track.
From there on out Repentless brings a good balance of what Slayer is known for. Half of the tracks are fast, abrasive, no holds barred thrash; while the other half are moderate, more groove-oriented tracks. The songs are also varied, with many of them featuring multiple sections instead of a typical verse-chorus trade off making for a memorable record. From start to finish the record pummels the listener with a barrage of metal that is relentless in its assault, whether through bruisers such as the title track, “Implode”, and “Atrocity Vendor”; or the slower, darker tracks like “When The Stillness Comes”, “Cast The First Stone”, and “Piano Wire”. The record isn’t without its flaws, but those are so miniscule they hardly make a dent. Special mention should also be given to Holt who contributed several solos to the effort, all delivered in Slayer fashion. The Exodus guitarist definitely has his own, very technical style, but for this album he delivers leads that are true to the band’s style. As a whole it’s well-written, not over-produced, and a definite statement that goes to show that Slayer is a dog that hasn’t lost its bite. Repentless is a fitting comeback for a band that’s overcome the permanent loss of an integral member, along with the departure of one of the founders that helped define their sound.
Choice tracks: “Repentless”, “Take Control”, “When The Stillness Comes”.
Repentless hit stores yesterday through Nuclear Blast. Copies are available through the label webstore here and iTunes.
Repentless track listing:
1. “Delusions Of Saviour”
3. “Take Control”
5. “Cast The First Stone”
6. “When The Stillness Comes”
7. “Chasing Death”
9. “Piano Wire”
10. “Atrocity Vendor”
11. “You Against You”
12. “Pride In Prejudice”