It’s kinda redundant at this point to go into detail on the past six years of Slayer
’s career. Jeff Hanneman’s spider bite and eventual death, Gary Holt’s rise to fill the unholiest of positions, and the infamous sacking of Dave Lombardo are all still fresh in everyone’s minds, but add in drama on the Mayhem
Festival this past summer and you can imagine tension is high in the Slayer
camp lately. With many complaining early on about Slayer
carrying on post-Hanneman, Repentless
is up against more than just their past legacy.
Regardless of the odds against them, Repentless
is what the band has been promising since the inception of the new lineup: Slayer
losing Hanneman (Who famously wrote nearly, if not, all of the band’s most famous songs), Repentless
delivers some noteworthy moments, despite falling flat in some areas. Never
touch the music they were making 25 and 30 years ago, and it’s obvious that with Repentless
that they’re very much aware of that.
is strongest in its first half, with the intro and title track starting off the experience at full throttle. As the tracks come and go, the furious guitar pickings and wailing guitar leads trade places under returning drummer Paul Bostaph’s upbeat drumming keeping the songs moving forward. Despite
lacking the legacy to follow it, Bostaph’s last Slayer
album, God Hates Us All
, (Released 14 years prior to the release of Repentless
) remains my personal favorite Slayer
album for being absolutely unhinged and angry, as well as heavier than previous efforts at that time. However, while Bostaph’s drumming is still energetic and his fills are chaotic, his footwork has obviously slowed. Understandably, he’s 52 now, so it’s understandable that he cannot play like he previously could 14 years ago, but he makes up with it with playing constantly upbeat tempos to match Kerry Slayer
and Gary Holt’s menacing guitar skills.
I’ve really got to give Kerry Slayer
credit here: he wrote some really solid songs. The title track is easily among the strongest on the album, but tracks like “Vices” and “When the Stillness Comes” offer an extra dose of heaviness over insanity that is much appreciated. Slayer
decided to bring back the lower tunings last seen on God Hates Us All
, and it definitely compliments Slayer
well to hear the lower notes ring out over a wah-drenched solo.
Even the solos on the album are eye opening, thanks to a combined effort between Slayer
and Holt. It’s obvious who is playing the solos, with Slayer
being more standard-Slayer
and Holt’s being more in line with his work in Exodus
. Holt was simply the right person to replace Hanneman, and anyone worrying that Hanneman’s guitar solos would be missed will certainly find peace in Gary’s excellent work. And
chances are, you already know how Gary plays his instrument. (Exodus
go hand-in-hand, anyways) On tracks like “Piano Wire” (Written by Hanneman before his death) it’ll become obvious that Holt and Slayer
are a solid match together.
Even with a strong line-up, Repentless
does face drawbacks that are common in post-Seasons in the Abyss Slayer
songs. For one, fans will complain that the album isn’t up to par with the band’s first five albums and is entirely soulless; that much is inevitable. But it’s true to say that a track or two could have been shaved off. For instance, “Attrocity Vendor” serves no purpose to the album’s narrative, in which the flow would be uninterrupted without it and progress onward. And
while it’s not the worst thing Slayer
has ever created (Diabolus in Musica) it’s just not exactly… interesting or noteworthy.
It’s evident Repentless
isn’t going to be remembered for being an amazing album down the line. Had the events that transpired leading up to this album not occurred, the music of Repentless
would obviously be different, yet even so Repentless
will be remembered for just being a Slayer
album as they got themselves back together after obstacle after obstacle. Slayer
played it safe and released a safe album to show they can still produce music. While everyone can argue that the production is garbage (Surprise: the guitars sound so much better than they did on World Painted Blood
) or if the songs are boring or not, Slayer
just proved that they can write an album that sounds like Slayer
at a base level.