Slayer – Repentless (Album Review)

SLAYER – Repentless

OUT: September 11th, 2015

SLAYER Line up:
Tom Araya | vocals, bass
Kerry King | guitars
Gary Holt | guitars
Paul Bostaph | drums

SLAYER online:

On May 2nd, 2013 Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman died of liver failure. It was a sad day in the heavy metal world and one that issued a multitude of questions regarding the future of Slayer. Four decades on, nothing could prepare these hardened metal warriors to losing the backbone of the Slayer juggernaut. Alas it wasn’t long before the band hit the road, hiring Exodus axeman and friend, Gary Holt, and shortly afterwards returning Paul Bostaph to the line up to again take over from Dave Lombardo who was replaced following some spiteful money matters behind the scene.

As they say in the entertainment business, the show must go on and despite a ripple of resentment amongst the Slayer faithful, the band moved on following Hanneman’s death. In all likelihood it is what the late guitarist would have wanted.

Six years had already passed between Slayer’s last album, World Painted Blood. However, thanks to a constant touring schedule, the band have never been far from the metal spotlight. The track ‘Implode’ which appears on Repentless, first appeared April 2014 and was the first to feature the now permanent new member of Slayer, Gary Holt. Ferocious yet succinctly continuing that Slayer sound it was a statement to the world that the band was still very much at the forefront of the thrash metal scene. Coinciding with ‘Implode’ was Slayer signing to Nuclear Blast Records a move that would see the band have Repentless eventually produced by Terry Date (Soundgarden, Pantera), a monumental shift for the band that was pretty much Rick Rubin’s baby for the past twenty years.

A few months later, ‘When the Stillness Comes’, another track to feature on Repentless was released as part Record Store Day. A more brooding track, it’s more tempered beginnings gradually incline to a forceful riff and within the record provides a subtle change of pace from what is for the most part, a faster played spread of tracks.

So where does Repentless sit overall? For starters, it is heavy and quintessentially Slayer. Though Hanneman has gone and that Lombardo double kick has been replaced by a more bombastic bludgeoning style from Bostaph, for the most part, Repentless does nothing to harm the post-Hanneman legacy.

The album kicks off with a two minute instrumental, ‘Delusion of Saviour’. Intensifying quickly, the band signal their intent early on. When ‘Repentless’, the title track hits that patent Slayer riffage is obvious. Whether it’s Kerry King or newcomer, Gary Holt taking the reins it’s neither here or there, it needn’t matter, Slayer are as brutal as ever. In fact this album is probably a return to the more punk thrash bite of 2001’s God Hates Us All or maybe even bits of South of Heaven. The next track, ‘Take Control’ a fine example of that.

‘Vices’ has Tom Araya in full voice, his screams of “Let’s get high”, sure to inspire some crazy mosh pits moments over the album tour. ‘Cast the First Stone’, showcases the great production on Repentless with Terry Date leading the band with impeccable cohesion. The bass of Araya and Bostaph’s drumming combining powerfully to orchestrate the duelling guitars of Holt and King.

The band tackle alcoholism on next track, ‘Chasing Death’, a lyrically confronting tirade with the band again on a groove thrash pendulum, Araya spitting venom into his words. ‘Piano Wire’, apparently an unfinished track Hanneman had been working on, is a classic Slayer structure. Araya releases his venomous vocal when required, whilst the all-consuming power of the band trails, the accompanying solo, a ripping guitar lick.

‘Atrocity Vendor, ‘You Against You’ continue the thrash master class, the latter containing some subtle change ups allowing for Araya to control the vocal pulse within though there is no denying the brutal punk-thrash attack of this song. Concluding with ‘Pride and Prejudice’, a slower burn, with the track again relying on Araya’s harsh vocal spillage to maintain its fierceness.

The hallmarks of classic Slayer are here whilst not stepping fully back into 80s mode thrash. Repentless is more on par in terms of similar content to 2001’s, God Hates Us All though there are traces, as stated to other past album’s, notably, 1994’s Divine Intervention with some of the structures contained on the record. Quintessentially Slayer, the band have proved themselves to be relevant, even without the brilliance of Hanneman to appease older fans and contain enough riffage and supreme guitar work to entice the younger generation. Four decades on, Slayer are still holding the fort as the gatekeepers of thrash.


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

Rating 8.5/10

About Plugga73 (370 Articles)
Writing, reviewing, interviewing, exploring new and old heavy music. From punk to grunge to hardcore to death metal to thrash and everything in between. I've been writing in the music industry now for several years including the websites LOUD, SF Media, Tone Deaf, The Metal Review and AMNplify. I'll be the one talking about bands from the 90s all the time..... Hit me up on twitter @Plugga73

2 Comments on Slayer – Repentless (Album Review)

  1. Paul Connolly // July 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm //

    Glad you mentioned the ‘punk-thrash’ element, as I love this album. I have never been a Slayer fan. (TBH I have basically ignored them as ‘too hvy’ for me and can honestly say I don’t really know their stuff). However, on a whim, I saw this as new and threw it into my playlist online. Without knowing who it was the song ‘Chasing Death’ came on some time later and I loved it. I had to check who it was. I was surprised I was digging Slayer. I listened to whole album and really liked it. So without all the ‘prejudice’ of previous albums, line-up changes etc, I found this album very enjoyable. I also stated there was a fast punk-like savagery to some of the riffs and I guess that may why I like it, a lot. ‘Repentless’ and ‘Atrocity Vendor’ are prob 2 favs after ‘Chasing Death’. What I great message in that song too.
    So there you go, whether a ‘non-metal-head’ saying this rocks is a good or bad sign, I’ll let you decide 😉
    (For the record I like a lot of metal, but always the albums my metal mates like least 😉 You know, Metallica Black, Anthrax – Sound of White Noise (quite possibly fav metal album ever) etc.) 😉 \m/

  2. I like it, Araya still has it, good good release

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