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Slayer - "Repentless" (CD)

Slayer - "Repentless" CD cover image

"Repentless" track listing:

1. Delusions Of Saviour
2. Repentless
3. Take Control
4. Vices
5. Cast The First Stone
6. When The Stillness Comes
7. Chasing Death
8. Implode
9. Piano Wire
10. Atrocity Vendor
11. You Against You
12. Pride In Prejudice

Reviewed by on October 5, 2015

"'Repentless' is possibly more of a pure Slayer release than any other since 'Divine Intervention.'"

Let’s get one thing straight here…the loss of Jeff Hanneman was devastating to the metal world and especially to Slayer. He penned some incredibly classic tunes over the years. We all miss his presence, I get it. But folks, this is Slayer. You can psychoanalyze the intricacies of Geddy Lee’s bass playing, or the impeccable timing of Neil Peart’s drumming when you listen to a Rush album, but this is Slayer. Declaring the band “dead” or “they should quit” is a bit much, don’t you think? Yes, Slayer is a “legendary” thrash band – but it is a thrash band, so dispense with the scientific study as to how badly the band would “suck at the loss of Hanneman” and having no Dave Lombardo behind the kit. Consider Slayer for what it is…a hellishly fun thrash band with a unique niche. By the time you get a third of the way through “Repentless,” you will suddenly come to the conclusion: “Wait….this album is really fucking good.” That’s because it is.

In all honestly, you shouldn’t give a rat’s ass about what Slayer has done in the past. Most people seeking nostalgia forget to factor age, evolution of tastes, and the fact that all those early albums are available to listen to anytime you desire. However, the bottom line with “Repentless” is that there is actually something here for the lover of every Slayer album – flashes of “Reign in Blood” (“Atrocity Vendor”), “South of Heaven” (“Piano Wire”) and “Seasons in the Abyss” (“You Against You,” “Pride In Prejudice”). It’s not perfect and there are times when the material seems a bit mundane and repetitive (e.g. “Implode”), but there is little to bitch and moan about in the face of what many in the metal community called the “Death of Slayer.” “Repentless” is possibly more of a pure Slayer release than any other since “Divine Intervention” (1994).

This resurrection can be traced to a couple of factors. For one, Slayer is as much Kerry King’s as it was Jeff Hanneman’s. Sure, King has a completely dickish attitude – but it cannot be denied that he is the backbone of this band. Secondly, whether there was a conscious decision on the part of Tom Araya, or it was the genius vision of Terry Date – the vocals are the best I’ve heard from Tom in decades. On “Christ Illusion” and “World Painted Blood,” Araya had a ridiculously annoying mid-high wail that prevented repeated listens to what were decent albums. They were just marred by annoyances – chiefly Araya’s vocals. It’s best to believe that Date took Tom aside and said: “Here is what you used to do….so do that.” Whatever the reason, it worked because Tom sounds absolutely killer. Date definitely gets all the credit for the incredible polished, yet raw sound. Also, the addition of Gary Holt more than made up for Hanneman’s loss. Holt’s presence makes Slayer technically better.

What makes “Repentless” such a great listen is a return to those engaging, headbanging riffs. Slayer is at its best when it mixes speed with slower riffs that make you move, and there are plenty here. Perfect examples include: “Vices,” “When the Stillness Comes” (which for some reason comes across a bit like “Dead Skin Mask”), “Piano Wire” (total throwback Slayer tune) and album favorite “Atrocity Vendor.” The latter has time changes with clean crisp lines that marry bridge to chorus and truly harken back to material on “Reign in Blood.”

The point here is that “Repentless” may not qualify as your album of the year, and it will be met with its fair share of criticism and cries of “lifeless boring material,” but the fact remains that Slayer released an incredibly solid and fun release worthy of any fan of any album from the thrash greats (especially one left for dead in the wake of Hanneman's passing). Keep listening and you might catch on with its sneaky good qualities and soon you will find yourself remembering all the great riffs and bask in the non-annoying type of Araya vocals. You might even catch glimpses of old Slayer, you just never know.

Highs: Great riffs, Tom sounds killer, sneaky good qualities and glimpses of Slayer of all eras.

Lows: Slayer is not young anymore, so some may find tracks like "Implode" a little mundane and repetitive.

Bottom line: In the face of Hanneman's death, Slayer responds with its best album in decades.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)