SLAYER – Repentless
OUT: September 11th, 2015
SLAYER Line up:
Tom Araya | vocals, bass
Kerry King | guitars
Gary Holt | guitars
Paul Bostaph | drums
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 Though Hanneman has gone and that Lombardo double kick has been replaced by a more bombastic bludgeoning style from Bostaph, for the most part, Repentless does nothing to harm the post-Hanneman legacy.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.
Enjoy….all that is SSSLLLLLLAAAAYYYYYYYEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!
Repentless track listing;
12. Pride In Prejudice