Thrash legends Slayer return with their best display of metal since… well older Slayer. For most, the name “Slayer” means a lot of things. One quarter of the “Big Four”, thrash legends, that band that had drummer Dave Lombardo, Raining Blood, fathers of thrash metal… the list really goes on and whether you’re an avid fan of the old-school Slayer or even hopped on the Slayer train in recent years (let’s face it, not all metal fans are 50+ years old…), ‘Repentless’ marks a distinct chapter in what these metal veterans can offer come 2015. Now I’m not going to tell you to enjoy this record, but I will tell you that Slayer’s 2015 effort is the best metal effort of 2015 from a band who established themselves decades ago.
‘Repentless’ is quite an album considering Slayer’s shake ups in the last few years. With the death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman (although he stepped aside during the band’s last studio release and the tour that followed). Tom Araya originally stated in interview that Slayer would not write new material until Jeff’s condition improved, it was sad for fans that there would not be another Hanneman-Slayer record although the band states that musical ideas he created would feature on the new album. It’s a saving grace for the fans who always considered Hanneman an integral part of the Slayer line-up and not all bad that Exodus ax-man Gary Holt replacing a man that will always be considered a legend of the genre. Then came the controversy with former-drummer Dave Lombardo being fired from the group only weeks out from a tour of Australia with Paul Bostaph eventually filling the role behind Slayer’s drum-set. The details went back and forth between the two parties and somehow didn’t stop the titanic display of thrash that is ‘Repentless’.
With all that in mind, fans will understand that Slayer will always be Slayer. There’s no frills, no gimmicks – just straight up screaming, groove-based thrash filled to the brim with screeching guitar licks and Araya’s trademark “Aaaaaaaaaargh” (seriously, would it be a Slayer album without it?). The album itself stands as both a testament to a fallen band member and a symbol that Slayer will move forward in 2015. The album kicks off with a melodic “Delusions Of Saviour” lifting the volume levels steadily until the record’s title-track kicks in. Although the track falls short of two minutes, you can’t help but bang your head. It’s an excellent way to bring in the musical anarchy of “Repentless”. Can anyone say: Trademark Slayer riff? This is what fans want to hear from an established band, Slayer doing what they do, down to the finer detail. “When The Stillness Comes” highlights the band’s ability to turn off the raging triplets and crushing bass doubles. The slower sections still incorporate the typical roars from Araya’s lyricism but slow the tempo marginally, before building in the end. I guess even Slayer can’t or won’t stop themselves from thrashing out.
The band’s first released single “Implode” stands strong, making it a perfect taste of the first slab of Slayer music in five years. It’s intention is simple, as well as effective; full-force Slayer. “Implode” showcases both the album and single even before you get to the Hanneman written “Piano Wire” which brings back the frenzied solo work, pummeling rhythmic section which made Kerry King’s right hand famous. It’s a hell of a track, even if it only lasts a brief two minutes and fifty seconds. We could definitely do with more of “Piano Wire”.
All in all this is not exactly an unexpected turn for Slayer fans. We all knew roughly what was coming, it was just to actually ‘hear’ the goodies wrapped up in a forty-two minute package. ‘Repentless’ isn’t a long and dragging record, rather it’s over before you wish it was. It’s clear that thirty years after ‘Hell Awaits’ that Slayer’s 2015 effort can maintain a strong standard for thrash and metal at large. ‘Repentless’ is a fine album, marking that the old-school legends can still develop a better riff than the wanna-be’s that hit the internet daily. Overall the album is clinically raw, unyielding and thoroughly enjoyable. It’s accessible enough for the young ones to use as a stepping stone into the band’s more prolific works and yet ‘Repentless’ may receive a share of the praise the likes of ‘Reign In Blood’ and ‘Seasons In The Abyss’ receive. Only time will tell just how prolific Slayer can become; the band is not done writing new music, ‘Repentless’ is proof that this thrash group from Huntington Park, California has more to offer.
01. Delusions Of Saviour
03. Take Control
05. Cast The First Stone
06. When The Stillness Comes
07. Chasing Death
09. Piano Wire
10. Atrocity Vendor
11. You Against You
12. Pride In Prejudice
Pre-order »Repentless« directly here:http://po.st/NuclearStoreOz
More on »Repentless«:
‘Repentless’ visualizer clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uivxr3O6rSE
‘When The Stillness Comes’ track video (early version):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP2njx-0mY0
‘Implode’ track video (early version):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0gVs_UcxKY