Slayer

Repentless

Written by: PP on 08/12/2015 23:36:55

What's there to say about Slayer in 2015 that hasn't been said a thousand times before over the past three decades. At this point it'd be a breaking news type of a shocker announcement if they changed musical style, so the only thing that's actually relevant is to measure the quality of every new Slayer release compared to their past work, older and newer alike. That being said, twelfth studio album "Repentless" marks a number of firsts for Slayer. One, it is the first Slayer album since the death of original guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who passed away in 2013, leaving behind a riff legacy that's unlikely to be broken by any metal guitarist in the foreseeable future. Two, related to the first one, it is also the first album featuring Gary Holt of Exodus fame as his replacement. Three, it is a return of the "Divine Intervention"-era drummer Paul Bostaph, who also performed on the mid-90s Slayer albums", replacing Dave Lombardo who was fired from the band in 2013 following a pay dispute. So how does it compare, then, to the rest of the band's vast back catalogue?

Curiously enough, the months following its release have made "Repentless" arguably the most polarising Slayer release in recent memory, as the internet is evenly split between reviewers and fans who claim it's the band's best work since "God Hates Us All" and others who lump it in the same category as the forgettable "Diabolus In Musica" and other mid 90s material. Both camps are right in their own way. On one hand, "Repentless" features some of the best modern Slayer songs with the title track, "Take Control", "Vices" and "Implode" underlining why Slayer are the kings of thrash metal even as they approach retirement age. Murderously evil riffage shredded at relentless speed and Tom Araya's signature angry yells making it feel like it's the late 80s thrash movement all over again. But the detractors are right in that the songs in the middle of the album are basically Slayer on autopilot: the same, mid-tempo, decent-but-not-particularly-memorable big production thrash metal with which the band survived most of the 90s after "Seasons In The Abyss". What the common consensus is on "Piano Wire", a posthumous contribution by Jeff Hanneman is still undecided as far as I can gather, but critics have certainly suggested a lack of creativity in terms of the riffs due to his absence. I disagree. "Atrocity Vendor", for instance, is a good example of shred-vs-solo as we've come to remember Slayer live shows by, and it even features a classic Araya extended yell in the end that should bring chills to the backs of older Slayer fans.

Now, I'll readily admit the lyrical work is, for the most part, poor. Previous Slayer records, while diabolical in content, have almost always felt almost intellectual in terms of vocabulary and phrasing. "Repentless" does not measure up in this context. Yet it is but a minor gripe because instrumentally, it may be the best Slayer album since "God Hates Us All" and certainly better than their mid 90s material. Either way, it's an essential listen for metal fans in 2015.

8

Download: Repentless, Take Control, Vices, Implode, Atrocity Vendor
For the fans of: Exodus, Kreator, Testament, Death Angel
Listen: Facebook

Release date 11.09.2015
Nuclear Blast

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