Slayer - Repentless (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Repentless (2015)

Nuclear Blast

It’s not like you don’t know what’s coming when Slayer hits your ears. Their reputation precedes them, being one of the progenitors of the “Satanic Panic” in the late '80s, to influencing just about every thrash band in the current century. Slayer has brought their brand of darkness and evil (make that ‘EVIL’) to metal for three decades. The passage of time hasn’t taken its toll at all, with the unleashing of their twelfth LP (and first without founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman) Repentless.

The haunting “Delusions of Saviour” is classic Slayer, reminiscent of the intro to 1985’s seminal Hell Awaits. Bringing about a dark, swirling atmosphere, it serves as the perfect into to the title track, a paean to founding member Hanneman. “I Hate the life / hate the fame / hate the fucking scene” guitarist Kerry King writes his in his fallen friend’s voice, expressing his feelings towards the isolation of fame and his desire to maintain normalcy. More than two years after Hanneman’s death, his presence is more than felt.

“Take Control” and “Vices” serve a quick one-two punch, without the listener even noticing a change. The dirge of “Vices,” particularly, is memorable, with drummer Paul Bostaph (Forbidden, Exodus) making his mark in his return to the band after an absence of over a decade.

“Cast The First Stone” brings back the dark, evil tones early Slayer fans remember and crave. The haunting intro heralds a furious blast of fury that will make old and new fans bang their heads in approval. “With blood you will paaaaaaayyyyy,” screams bassist/vocalist Tom Araya, and so will you. The solos near the end are vintage Slayer, and headbanging is mandatory. The fury of this song can’t be denied, and it’s one of the best that the band has produced in the past decade.

The haunting intro of “When the Stillness Comes” follows, and it’s darkness all over the listener. The song’s intro evokes the band in its early incarnation, trading a more modern vocal-only delivery later on. The approach works, bringing darkness and fury together for an appropriately eerie result. “Chasing Death” follows with all its measured fury, rising and falling with a calculated measure. The song moves into “Implode,” bringing a slow and dirty measure until it explodes in the bridge/chorus. The slow buildup and huge explosion live up to the song’s title.

“Atrocity Vendor” has a decidedly punkish feeling at the intro, flowing into a Slayer fury. Vocalist/Bassist Tom Araya sounds as strong as he ever has, his guttural growl absolutely tearing through the speakers. The old-school metal intro of “You Against You” is deceptive, as it evolves into a maelstrom of guitar solo and drum fury, finally dragging the listener into its whirlwind. The album closer, “Pride and Prejudice,” seals the thrash envelope with a kiss, ebbing and flowing like a classic thrash tune does.

Make no mistake, Repentless is the best Slayer album of the 21st century. Those that have dismissed the godfathers of thrash are mistaken; this is a band that, while long in the tooth, is as vital musically as ever before. Hail Slayer!