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Criminally underrated, but not their best. - 80%

Berzerker762, March 11th, 2018

I understand this was not a perfect album, and that it was definitely not better than Reign in Blood, but I rather enjoyed this album. It's even better when you take into consideration that Slayer is older than dirt. It is a return to the angry thrash that made slayer great, but it was not perfect.

The album starts off with Delusions of the Savior as an intro track. The Intro got me pumped and excited for what was going to come next on first listen. Slayer doesn't generally do intro tracks, not that I'm aware of, but this one was very effective. The next track was the infamous prison riot thrasher Repentless. Repentless shifts into maximum overdrive, it's fast. For being 4000 years old, Araya can still scream. He's still angry, he's still loud, nothing is missing there. It's a quick moshpit song with fairly nice guitar solos, but those solos ain't nothing to write home about.

Repentless has a few good thrashers, but also some good head-bangers. Tracks like Chasing Death and Pride in Prejudice are a slower than others, but effectively so. Slayer slows their roll and plays some heavier songs reminiscent of groove metal. They play groovier, but not unappealingly so like their 90s-00s stuff. It's more of a compromise between thrash and groove. The album brings good moshing and head-banging songs to the table, but not all are great.

Most of the complaints about this album are something along the lines of "mundane, boring, and generic". While I wouldn't classify the whole album that way, there are some dreadfully boring songs, Implode and Piano Wire are fantastic examples of this. They're just looping riffs with boring vocals, reminds me of ...And Justice For All. With these songs it's like they didn't want this album, which in the interviews, looks like they didn't.

Overall it's a good album with mostly good tracks. The songs are either good or godawful, and thankfully most are the former. It's obviously not the best thing Slayer produced, with Seasons in the Abyss and Reign in Blood being the all time champions, but it's a breath of fresh air from the former style of music they chose with Diabolus in Musica and other albums we don't talk about. Repentless is a good album to end their career, a return to the style that put them into the big four. I think this album, while it has it's flaws, is awfully underrated. It's worth buying and listening to, but if you're short on cash then there are better thrash albums to buy.

Slayer - Repentless Review - 38%

Jordan Rosser13, December 7th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

Slayer is a band infamous the world over for their aggressive style and often offensive lyricism. They have been a dominating force in the thrash metal genre for decades and have reached high levels of success throughout their illustrious career. The band however has taken a huge hit over the past few years, losing both founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman and drummer Dave Lombardo. Many weren't convinced that this crippled version of the band would persist and release any new material. Well, for better or worse, they did.

Repentless is Slayer's twelfth album and it features Exodus' very own Gary Holt on guitar and long time friend of the band Paul Bostaph behind the kit. Despite this all star level cast, the album falls flat on almost every conceivable level. Barring "Piano Wire", every song and all of the lyrics on the album were written by Kerry King. This becomes very obvious by the third track as by then the words "fuck", "society", and "mediocrity" have been used several times. You can seriously hear at least one of these words on every single track. The lyrics are one dimensional, bland, and detract from the overall experience in some cases such as in "Vices" where we get to hear a 51 year-old Tom Araya belt out "a little violence is the ultimate drug, let's get high!". They are deplorable and manage to completely nullify any good vocal delivery made by Araya.

Instrumentally however, we are handed more of a mixed bag. There are some very good performances present on this record such as Bostaph's drumming which is always on point and intricate. At some points in fact, the drum fills and beats were the only thing keeping a boring riff relevant such as the climax in "Implode". Gary Holt's solos are also, for the most part, nothing short of stellar. I actually recall laughing out loud when I heard his first solo in the title track as it simply stomps on King's solo that took place seconds before. Despite these positives, the lot of the riffs come off largely as uninspired and contrived, with exceptions being present in the title track and the eerily experimental "When the Stillness Comes". You can tell that King was just tossing in riffs left and right without anybody beside him to critique him and sadly, this is an area where Jeff's creative input is terribly missed. There are too many mid tempo 7-string riffs and almost no risks are taken outside of the first five frets of the lowest two strings. Slayer is simply sticking to what they know and this time, it is painfully obvious.

This album disappointed me at almost every turn. From the intro track that goes nowhere, the carelessly made lyrics, to the lackluster riffage present in almost every song. There is simply little here that is actually worth purchasing or even worth hearing for a second time. This album has cemented the point that, now more than ever, Slayer has become a caricature and a mockery of itself. None of the savage prowess present on earlier efforts remains here and what we do get is little more than sub par fan service. Kerry King clearly has run out of ideas and is resorting to retreading old ground in order to make sales off of the nostalgia of "the good old days".

terribly flat and mediocre - 30%

mikey22, June 3rd, 2016

This album to put it frankly just sucks. I listened to this thing twice full through and I hated it both times. First where are the great riffs? It seems Slayer just half-assed these riffs when writing them. They just used whatever unused riffs they had for previous albums, and put them here. They have no bite or menace to them, nor are they catchy at all. Paul's drumming while good is not as creative as Dave Lombardo's. Their latest albums like ,Christ illusion and World Painted Blood had great riffs and musicality. I personally enjoyed Christ Illusion a lot and World Painted Blood was a solid effort. It seems after Dave left and Jeff passed away Slayer just lost their magic touch. Slayer has become the Kerry King band where he controls everything and Kerry is no where near as good as Jeff was on the guitar nor in the songwriting area. On Christ Illusion, World Painted Blood, and God Hates Us All, Slayer had energy, heavy riffs, aggression, great aggressive vocals, and great drumming. Here well, there is none of that slayer greatness except maybe the drumming. How could I forget Tom Araya now?

Tom Araya, what happened to your voice? You sound horrible. He sounds like a chronic smoker who has severe lung and gum cancer here, and he looks like a homeless Santa Claus. His voice has gone to pure shit and his bass playing on this album is completely non-existent. I can't hear it at all. I cannot believe this turd sold 50,000 copies in its first week and charted; its just garbage. Sales then plummeted the second week to only 11,000 copies and dropped to 34th on the billboard chart. This album isn't just bad for Slayer standards it's bad for any band, with bands like Cannibal Corpse, Overkill, and Kreator still releasing great albums there is no excuse for Slayer to release this piece of shit. I feel the only reason Kerry King wrote this album was to get more money. Well, great job Kerry you earned your paycheck, but you lost your integrity, and you act like the Kanye West of metal nowadays. He always talks badly about bands better and more consistent than you (Iron Maiden for example). You act like the passing of Jeff was like a common fly died. He was quoted as saying "Jeff is worm food now." What the hell Kerry? Your main songwriter dies and you act he like he never mattered; that's just outrageous. Yes, Slayer in the early days were untouchable in my eyes, but now they just sound outdated. Plus Jeff was always the superior guitarist. I feel this album just shows that Slayer are in it for the money now with Jeff dead and Dave's departing because Kerry screwed Dave out of his money.

The lyrics also bad as well. Tom is just spewing nonsense about the "establishment" and "religious corruption." Sure he did that in every other album but the older albums have a more authentic displeasure for organized religion and society than this trite. Tom just throws around the f word so much on this album. Not anywhere near as bad as God Hates Us All in cursing but still pretty bad. It's just awful to listen to these lyrics. What happened to the dark satanic overtones or the lyrics criticizing society and the "establishment" in a genuine manner of the previous albums? In conclusion I wasn't the only one who thought this album sucked just look at the other reviewers. I think Slayer needs to hang it up, they have had an illustrious career and a great run all these years but without both Jeff and Dave they just don't have the magic touch anymore. They really sound outdated and out of ideas and they cannot keep up with the intensity of bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Nile, Aborted, Behemoth, Overkill, Kreator, or Megadeth who still surprisingly put out good material. This I feel isn't even Slayer anymore, I feel it's just the Kerry King band because now he controls the songwriting, the budgeting, who gets fired, and who stays. Kerry King and his greed have personally caused Slayer to produce worse music. This is just bad but I guess the drumming by Paul was solid, and the riffs were mediocre but other than that this is crap. The riffs are boring, solos suck, the vocals are terrible, and the bass is nonexistent. Slayer you had a great run but please just hang it up it's time.

The limitations of thrash metal as an art form. - 40%

Empyreal, February 19th, 2016

This album really shows the failings and limitations of thrash as an art form. It isn't something that you can just keep doing forever as you get older and older. Slayer on Repentless are touting this as a return to form, in presentation and aesthetics and the music itself, but how is that even possible? All the good things about Slayer came from their youth – the extremity was the kind that all the best thrash bands had, bestowed upon them by that young, angry zeal and desire to go further than the bands before them had. The lyrics were about Satan and serial killers and Nazi war crimes, and they were presented as what they were, shock tactics to go along with the racy, over the top, extreme music. On here, you get the same thrashy beats, the same machine-gun riffing and Tom Araya's bellowing over top, but it all sounds passe and try-hard when coming from a bunch of dudes in their 50s.

Everything about this is just old sounding. The band sounds fine, but they lack the riotous energy of their youth. And the sound itself is not extreme anymore; the lyrics have nothing new to say, so that has also lost its luster, and even then, a 30-year career full of offensive fuck-you lyrics about war, politics and being angry is kind of stretching it. Nobody is really that angry. On Repentless we get a bunch of technically sound, clean songs that are reasonably aggressive for such old metallers. Nothing is entirely unpleasant, and sometimes you get a decent thrashy rollicking instrumental section, but there's really nothing here you can't get better on Reign in Blood for the faster bits and South of Heaven for the slower bits. Tom Araya sounds pretty awful in parts, and hearing him try for the higher notes now is just kind of embarrassing. The production is super sterile and clean and boring. I even liked the way-too-loud World Painted Blood production better than this.

So then we reach the conundrum – what to do about Slayer? Clearly, expecting them to retire and pack it up just because they're old now is a ridiculous thing to expect. They're making money and they probably like what they do, and they have a ton of fans. They won't retire just because we say it sucks. But as I said before, this kind of balls-out, energized thrash doesn't work when the band gets old. Thrash is a brightly burning spark that quickly is snuffed out by age and complacency in one's life – you can't keep that going forever. Its one purpose is to be aggressive and heavy as fuck, and when a band like Slayer's older material clearly out-performs their new stuff on that one tunnel-vision goal, what's the point? Slayer will keep going, but their limited scope and seeming unwillingness to write fresher-sounding music to combat their audibly older age renders them pretty irrelevant. But they won't stop, so any review saying this is basically screaming in space: no one who matters will hear you.

In effect, am I saying Slayer's career is pointless now? Pretty much. There's nothing to say about Repentless, so I suppose that in and of itself is a good enough conclusion here.

A celebration of everything Slayer stand for. - 60%

bkuettel, January 22nd, 2016

Without question, Jeff Hanneman was a force to be reckoned with within Slayer, writing a fair amount of their best and most popular material. Overall, his contributions helped propel the band to their legendary status within an entire sub-genre, as well as releasing a streak of game-changing metal albums that are among the best the genre has to offer. Slayer faced much adversity after Hanneman spent years battling necrotizing fasciitis, eventually passing away from cirrhosis of the liver in 2013. Adding to further stress, Lombarado’s messy departure over contractual disputes threw remaining members Araya and King into further disarray. The question of Slayer's relevance is now answered by the celebration of their legacy in Repentless. Given the tumultuous events behind its’ creation, this latest release serves as a reassuring reminder that the metal legends are still thrashing in full force.

Drummer Paul Bostaph and Slayer touring guitarist Gary Holt from Exodus swoop in to fill the void left by Lombardo and Hanneman (Bostaph played with the group from 1991-2002 during Lombardo's first absence), a welcome return for the seasoned metallers. Overall, the drastic line-up changes and major setbacks have done little to change the established Slayer sound. Both thrash legends sound fully integrated into the band alongside the maze of tempo changes and Kerry King’s vicious guitar licks. Holt in particular shreds through Repentless with a multitude of tasty guitar solos, particularly in speed demons “Implode” and “You Against You.” Kerry King had stated that Slayer fans weren’t ready for any outside musicians writing Slayer material just yet. His sentiments are understandable, though it would have been interesting to hear what Holt and Bostaph could have contributed to the Slayer sound beyond strictly solos and fills.

While World Painted Blood was a fun listen, it suffered from inconsistencies, such as curiously placing Lombardo’s drums front and center in the mix. The most noticeable improvement of Repentless is the thick, effectively heavy guitar tone. The riffs are back in sharp focus, even if the mixing itself suffers from typical modern production downfalls of the Loudness War. The guitar work itself is standard Slayer fare, which could have been more interesting or varied if Holt and Bostaph brought in their own experiences and knowledge to the songwriting table. The title track has been described by guitarist Kerry King as a “Hannemananthem,” a tribute to their late fellow band member. It tears through at a breakneck tempo, hearkening back to the Hanneman penned hit “War Ensemble” from Seasons in the Abyss with lyrics celebrating his life and legacy.

Hanneman’s signature melodic and undistorted guitar passages are taken over by Kerry King’s songwriting duties. Album highlights “Cast The First Stone” and “When The Stillness Comes” are welcome variations among the unrelenting speed, both featuring quiet, ominous intros, bringing to mind Slayer’s more atmospheric material. For the most part though, Repentless is a relentless metal attack that celebrates the life and musical achievements of their fallen brother in thrash. If Slayer believe that they should continue onward, Holt and Bostaph might just be able to continue supporting the band and even evolve it beyond treading the same waters. While Repentless may not offer much of anything new to the Slayer sound, it is more than worthy of a listen for fans who want to help Slayer celebrate a musical legend who’s influence reaches far and wide across the heavy metal landscape.

Slayer - Repentless - 65%

Orbitball, December 30th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

Still maintaining the thrash element, but here is 'God Hates Us All' revisited. Even that album I have more respect for than this, mainly because of Hanneman, but also because on both guitarist's fronts, their leads were still good. The rhythms on this one are along the same paths, with a tint of clean guitar pieces, though not much. I'm driving at the fact that without the key ingredient to the songwriting i.e. Slayer of the olden days, 'Repentless' falls short. There is that aggression that still exists in the band, but let's face it, Hanneman and Lombardo were the core to Slayer's unique sound and energy which hasn't been the same since (I think) 'Seasons in the Abyss'. I say this because to me that's their last good album.

'Repentless' I was skeptical about especially after hearing the song "Implode" before the CD was released to the public. I thought that it was a pretty generic tune. Holt tries to mimic the Hanneman's sound on his leads, but no one was as unique in the lead department for Slayer except Jeff. I remember reading an interview in the early 90's where Jeff stated that the albums show which leads are whose because he didn't want people to think his were thought of or mistaken to be King's. Not to digress, but not only is 'Repentless' generic on the rhythm guitar aspect, King is absolutely horrible in his total lack of effort in the lead front. Let's face it, Slayer should in my opinion just retire. My favorites were those of the earlier days. Old Slayer is dead, long live old Slayer!

Araya hasn't been the same since 'Reign in Blood', on there I think and on 'Show No Mercy' were his best vocals. Yes, on 'Repentless' his voice does go good with the guitars, but the band's ability to write memorable songs is totally lacking. I'd go so far to say that Slayer reigned best from 'Show No Mercy' all the way to 'Seasons in the Abyss'. After that, they went rancid. Not having Lombardo behind the kit you hear Paul's snare drum with a "popping" sound to it along with a total lack of effort on his part here on 'Repentless'. There were some albums he did with Slayer that were mediocre. On here, he's just burnt out. His drum lines don't show or could ever be as creative as Dave was with Slayer. I have total dislike for Paul.

There's really nothing that sets 'Repentless' apart from Slayer's discography, only that it's among the realm of their worst releases, even worse than 'World Tainted Blood' and 'Christ Illusion'. Even though Jeff was still live and on those albums, they still reeked of putrefaction. People that say that 'Repentless' is "not bad" are the people that praise Slayer's newer material versus their old. There isn't a song on here that I liked. I thought the whole album was crap. There's nothing significant about it, only that it is praised by this 21st century listeners of Slayer, not the 20th century ones who are alive to hear me compare their older material all the way up until present day.

This is bad music -- it totally lacks in the creative aspect of the band's writing and King should just wrap it up with his leads. None of the music is really significant or memorable. Nothing like Jeff's older riffs. Holt is a good guitar player and replacement, but he tries to mirror what he thought Jeff would approve of but to me he's not as good. A lot wah pedal use by both guitarists in their leads, mostly by Kerry. My score is in the "D" range because I don't think that they totally flopped out. I just think they could've spent more time focusing on the music and the lyrics Slayer has never been good at writing. The one good thing I'll say is at least they didn't change their thrash roots.

This 21st century Slayer doesn't really contribute to the ingenious qualities that were so prevalent in their earlier days. In my opinion, I stopped liking them after 'Seasons in the Abyss'. Not that they didn't put out decent work in the 90's, it's just their ideas sort of ran out and even Jeff's and Kerry's leads were predictable. 'Repentless' doesn't have much to offer unless you had a musical lobotomy and praised it for something that it is not. The production quality was okay, just Rick Rubin was their best producer I think. Tom still has the yelling going on in the songs, some of the rhythms written were just "ok", Kerry's lead's were horrendous and Paul's drumming totally lacked ingenuity and precision. Don't get this, get their earlier work if you don't have it already!

I'd Expect More than Meek Capitulation from You... - 55%

doomknocker, December 13th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

How could they recover? With neither glibness nor morbid curiosity in my tone, I ask that question again: how could they recover? The loss of Mr. Hanneman seemed like one that would be so damning as to cause the foundation of Slayer's structure to collapse (due in no small part to his being a better guitarist and songwriter than his shaven-head colleague), but through sheer will or a refusal to bow out (dis)gracefully the group continued to soldier on. Yet an aura of uncertainty surrounded the group in the years that followed, even with Gary Holt stepping in to lend a hand (which, in itself, added another uncertain layer to the band's future, one that is still in effect; "will he leave Exodus to play in Slayer full time?" "No??" "Yes??" "Maybe???"), and though we knew a new album was coming, it's still not clear whether or not this is one last bow before the breakup that really should happen if you ask me, or a sign of further existence down the line...

And speaking of this new work, I will say this; it's clear that Hanneman was the superior songwriter of the main guitarist duo given how "Repentless" came out. That said, however, it's still a decently performed, halfway good (at best) album that maintains the same solid foundation the band has had lo these many generations and trends, yet sadly falls short of what we really hoped it to be as it starts out with energy to spare and dies out as everything progresses. If nothing else, it showcases the limitations of King's "shoot first, ask questions later" method of dynamicless songwriting; think of it as a marathon runner who has the wrong idea on how to run said marathon. He thinks of it as a race and attempts to be the hare when the tortoise is what keeps you on your feet throughout the run, and after his sprint-a-thon he collapses well short of the finish line. That's "Repentless" in and of itself. But that first initial burst of energy is still quite entertaining and far more enjoyable than plenty of you out there have made it out to be. The first few times the album lets you have it are almost as intense as the band we knew and loved, with much of that genuine grace coming from the energetic performance, the sharp and crystalline production, and even Mr. Araya's vocal work, which sounds more wild and angry than they have in a long time. He may no longer be the Antichrist stalking the shadows, but if all you can be a guy you don't want being in your face shouting the way he does, then things can be much worse. The rhythm section is taught and plenty focused, the drumming simply good for the most part (which is a shame, seeing as Mr. Bostoph always came off as a more dynamic and intense drummer than Lombardo...come at me, Blood Reigners!!) and Gary Holt's contributions breathe some fine, new life into the lead work, giving unto us the first album in which some of the solos are good and fully actualized! It only took 'em 30+ years. Ah well, better late than never, I suppose.

All that said, this is by no means a perfect album, and as I'd spoken of earlier there's only so much you can take in when all you get is bashing speed and the parts within aren't as realized as they need to be. One can get tired of being repeatedly struck with several blindlingly fast objects (by the time you get to "Implode" you may begin to gaze more and more at your watch), and even when things slow into a crawl with hopes of providing some dark and demented atmosphere it almost feels like it doesn't belong; not coerced or pigeon-holed so much as originally unwelcome yet begrudgingly accepted, if that makes any kind of sense, Were tracks like "When the Stillness Comes" to percolate a bit more on the fire and flesh out into a more accessible degree we'd be reminded the true evil that Slayer used to possess back when they had something to say that didn't involve "fuck" every few verses. In that regard, I can't stay silent despite how poor form it is for a reviewer to attack the lyrical work; I can't say I've been the biggest fan of Slayer's attempts at bro-style antagonism, especially given how ghastly and wicked this artwork and booklet shape come off as, but in this day and era, with the ages the creative forces are, it feels all the more sad to the point where it's almost pathetic. There comes a time in your life when you have to put down the angst, stop flipping off the camera and unleash your rage in the most "act your age!" way possible. But maybe they can't do that? Maybe Kerry is still a bitchy teen at heart? Sometimes it seems that way given his many brushes with journalists and his general view on things s a whole. it must be so tiring being in a world so pissy. But I digress...

In the end, "Repentless" was a bit of a disappointment but not quite the crater in the ground many fans claim it to be. Trust me, Slayer's done much worse in their career ("Diabolos...", anyone?), but if this proves to be their final offering which, in a perfect world, this would be, they could have done better. Average at best, middling at worst. So it goes.

Better than the last 20-years, but who cares? - 40%

Pratl1971, October 29th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD + DVD, Nuclear Blast (Digipak, Limited Edition)

After hearing the initial single "Repentless" I heard the obligatory "F-word" being yelled about and immediately figured that Slayer, once again, had forgone clear and intelligent lyrical thought in favor of the nu-metal Slipknot plasticity that has permeated the band's sound for the last 14-years since God Hates Us All. That said, as a fan since 1983 I figured I had to at least give the album a shot for posterity's sake.

After social media exploded with an incredible torrent of "Slayer's back!" posts I sat down and took in Repentless and honestly went in with an indelibly open mindset. Despite abandoning the sinking ship many years ago, the ghosts of my youth and the driving need to hang on to those apparitions compelled me to at least give it another go. What I hear is an aging group that sounds the "best" they've sounded since the aforementioned 2001 monstrosity, but whether that actually means anything is another story.

Okay, let's take this slowly. Does this album have "moments?" Sure, it has spotty aspects of older-school Slayer (the slippery-slope 1990 school era, that is) where your head invariably bobs to the incessant thumping of the now typical Slayer beat. You might also feel that rush when Tom Araya starts yelling during "Repentless" because his commanding scolding tone is one of Slayer's defining traits. All of these little familiarities aside, one of the elements that has destroyed Slayer for me in the past two decades is the seemingly biblical overuse of the coveted "F" word...like every sixth word. For me, that showcased a total lack of ideas and an even greater lack of respect for the audience. Yes, I fully understand we metal fans are purported to be a segmented, aggressive lot that can appreciate such volatile words to serve as verbal exclamation points in even casual conversation. However, I choose to believe that the greater populous of our movement is intelligent folks looking for some real mental entanglements to keep the interest fresh and the cerebral copulation memorable. Slayer lets the overt aggression dictate the blueprint, and that made for some very basic and formulaic music. This album is happily devoid of such expletive-laced plasticity, but it does suffer from some very watered-down lyrics. During "Vices" I'm treated to Araya imploring me to get high off the ultimate drug (violence), and for a brief moment I thought my eyes would actually flip Vegas odds with all of the freewheel rolling they did. Still and all, it's better than that horrid 2001 album where I thought Slipknot might have commandeered the studio for a few days, but I digress.

Much of this album simply fails to interest me enough to call anything on here a classic; those days are long gone after 1986's "Reign in Blood," the long-revered staple for the band. Let's face it: Slayer is older, yes, and their fan base is almost stupidly loyal to a fault, but when ideas run stale, they're simply past accepted expiration. This album is not horrible by any means, and it's a definitive 'step up' considering that I feel the last 14-years to be a severely unfunny joke, but there's a definite air of spoiled milk in the room. I think the music, punchy in areas, albeit mundane, simply falls short in the natural aggression area, saying nothing for the aforementioned trite lyrical prowess that is years past any prime. I can fondly recall being a tremulous wreck awaiting a new Slayer album; now I'm merely an old fart that, according to the social media milieu, simply doesn't get it or is simply "being a hater." I didn't know a lifelong dedication to this band ending with a sincere disappointment in their obvious lack of concerted effort qualified me as something horribly opaque as a "hater," but that's neither here nor there.

Some of the bright spots herein are "Repentless," "Atrocity Vendor," "You Against You" and "Pride in Prejudice" simply due to their closest possible relation to any semblance of old Slayer. I was convinced that sound was long gone along with Metallica's roots and Megadeth's godless edge, and by and large it is, but there were, as I said, moments of stubborn nostalgia. Sadly, those trips down crumbled walkways of memory lane are too lurid and wayward to impose on the recesses of my brain and heart for very long. I consider this a long-lost friend still criminally missing. Forget the fact that drummer Dave Lombardo is now persona non grata and founding guitarist Jeff Hannemann is, in Kerry King's eloquent words, "worm food." The truth is, they were slipping long before these two men left for other pastures, and truths so hard and fast are tough to deny. They're even tougher to flee.

As I said, what we have here is an older band holding on to an apologetic fanbase too stubborn or blinded by mock dedication to call out mediocrity where it defiantly sits, currently raking in the Nuclear Blast bucks with lots of pretty colored vinyl on the way and a nifty metal box set shaped like an eagle that will set you back nearly $200USD. Often uninspired and overly forced in spots, Repentless is an unassuming dribble down the chin and into the bib of old age as opposed to the mid-80's loogie-splattering phlegm expectorated into the shocked faces of the established order. It's easily wiped away into the abyss of a soiled tissue. This is the tragedy of getting old; we all do it and some of us know when to give up the ghosts of our youth.

I grow fatigued hearing the same rallying cries from uninformed newbies and dedicated band logo fans of how Slayer is "...at least better than Megadeth and Metallica." When you have three piles of excrement at your feet, one a month old, one a week old, and the last freshly expelled, you can turn blue in the face fighting for the bragging rights as to which pile smells the least offensive - shit is still shit, despite rare spots of fragrant familiarity in a strong wind.

(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)

Repentless - 80%

Deathandthrashlover, October 9th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD + DVD, Nuclear Blast (Digipak, Limited Edition)

Before this album ever came out people were already dismissing it due to the absence of drummer Dave and the death of Jeff. So it came as no surprise to myself when the album finally released that it was meet with such hostility. But in reality this truly is a slayer album, just take a listen to the title track "Relentless". As it starts with a lighting fast riff, with a drums that kicks you're face in. Followed by Tom's signature shouting vocals. Yes there is no doubt that this song try's to bring back the rage and aggressiveness from Reign In Blood, and it doesn't really accomplish this, but nevertheless it's a hell of a track.

The album keeps the speed up through the first couple of tracks. Things don't change until you reach "When The Stillness Comes" when things get slowed down. With a clean guitar intro this song gets the creepy vibe going, making you feel like you're sitting in dark room but you can't shake the feeling you're not alone. This is also the first song that we really get to hear Tom's thunderous bass, and it's glorious. The serial killer lyrics only help to make this one of the best tracks on the album.

The second half of the album doesn't regain the speed the first half did, but it does get heavier. With tracks like: Chasing Death, Piano Wire, Atrocity Vendor, and You Against You. All these tracks are mid-tempo thrashers, with thick guitar tones, groove oriented drumming, and more signature slayer trade off solos. The best example is Piano Wire, this track from start to finish demands you head bang like crazy. With A slow chugging riff, to the ever thunderous drumming to Tom yelling the lyrics at you, it quickly becomes a deadly tack, and I could easily see people moshing while this song plays live.

Now that I'm done praising Repentless, this album does have its flaws. A big one is the absence of Tom's bass. Not to say its not there but for most of the album its buried in the mix. Another thing that hinders the album are the lyrics. The lyrics can feel a little juvenile on songs like Vices, and Implode. With lines like "violence is the ultimate drug/ lets get high!" can almost make you laugh. But all these things aside, this album does have some strong songs. In short, Repentless has it flaws, but can still be worthwhile.

Video killed the radio star - 76%

Felix 1666, October 7th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

To introduce Slayer would be carrying coals to Newcastle. Let us therefore rush headfirst into "Repentless". It was a very questionable dissemination policy to release four single songs before the full-length was placed on the market. And, of course, the best tune (the title track) was released just eight weeks before the publication date of the album in order to herald a new masterpiece of Slayer. The industry seems to believe that we are all stupid children who do not know its thinking and the consequential mechanisms. Be that as it may, it comes as no surprise that the title track stands out. It represents exactly that kind of Slayer which I enjoy. The song is neither innovative nor surprising, but the band is in its element. The neckbreaking old school riffing is driven by the precisely whipping drums and Tom Araya's voice transmits this diabolic vibration which shaped so many classics of the band. "Repentless" goes its way straightforwardly, simply irresistibly and without suffering from modern influences. Give me this song and I give you the entire "World Painted Blood" album - this would be really a good deal (albeit only for me).

But Slayer quickly relapse. A lot of rather slow parts take their toll with the effect that Araya, King and their prominent sidekicks are not able to maintain the fury of the title track. I freely admit that their best album ("Hell Awaits") also did not lack of mid-tempo sections. Anyway, this was something completely different. Each and every song of their unparalleled second full-length had a distinctive character. The homicidal intro of the title track, the "Running and hunting and slashing" bridge of "Praise of Death" or the insane drum break of "Necrophiliac"- I guess you know what I mean. Yet who is able to distinguish "Vices" from "Cast the First Stone"? Probably nobody. But apart from the fact that I would be a little bit too late (roughly 25 years), I do not want to bash them for relativising the dogma of high velocity. The band is at liberty to shape its type of thrash the way it wants. It is just regrettable that the formerly divine formation does not show a higher degree of determination. Or to put it in martial terms, the band has lost its will to kill in the most efficient way. Apart from that, it is slightly embarrassing that they adopt a riff fragment from Destruction, just compare the beginning of "Atrocity Vendor" with that of "Death Trap" from "Infernal Overkill". I do not think that they had the intention to "cover" the Germans. It is just an ironic twist of fate that they share a riff with a band which was once heavily influenced by, of course, Slayer.

As expected, the production is flawless. The songs are put in the right light by a clean, powerful and sharp mix. Anything else than this crystal clear sound would have been a nasty surprise, because I doubt that they had to keep an eye on the money during the recordings. Thankfully, there exist more positive things than the title track and the production. Kerry King has written some very strong pieces that are worthy of bearing the bloodcurdling name Slayer. For example, "You Against You" marks a late highlight. It follows roughly the path of the title track, but it is a little bit more complex. "Take Control" also bows down to the concept of velocity while scoring with the flickering guitars during the verses. "Implode" connects a sinister beginning with a high speed continuation and its only minor flaw is caused by Araya's vocals. Whenever he screams the word "Implode", his voice sounds somewhat limited. And, by the way, Araya should shave off his ugly beard. He looks like his own grandpa.

I know that I am at risk to be blamed for my oversized nostalgia, but I want Slayer to be fast and furious. Thus, the major defect of the album is constituted by its aforementioned overdose of mid-tempo sections and songs. The running order of the tracks is also counterproductive in this context, because "Vices" starts a series of fairly lame songs. Admittedly, the band builds a more or less viable bridge to its approach of "South of Heaven" and does not appear as a toothless caricature of itself. Nevertheless, these tunes do not show the real essence of Slayer. The mediocre "When the Stillness Comes" marks the low point. It represents a kind of unsuccessful self-quotation, because it draws heavily on their own classics such as "Mandatory Suicide" or "Dead Skin Mask". Unfortunately, the here presented number is not able to create a comparably intense atmosphere. All that remains is a band that paralyses itself.

Approximately 30 years ago, an unknown pop combo sang a song called "Video Killed the Radio Star". In terms of Slayer, we have to notice that "Mid-tempo Killed the Thrash Metal Star". Despite some rays of hope, the band has ruined its apparently immovable status during the last 17 years (remember the incredibly trendy "Diabolus in Musica") and "Repentless" cannot turn back time. But it offers at least four great songs that have the potential to stand the test of time and to join the ranks of their sonic legends. This and the absence of complete flops lead me to the statement that "Repentless" is a good record, no more, no less. My only regret is that Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.) could not participate.

A return to form, but not the good one. - 35%

hells_unicorn, October 6th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

Contrary to an ever-growing party's opinion that Slayer should have thrown in the towel after the death of Jeff Hanneman, there was definitely a path forward for these longtime extreme thrash metal stalwarts even without their most crucial member. Granted, it might not have been one that brought them back to the glory of their formative years, but the fairly strong and appealing character of World Painted Blood didn't itself terminate on the masterful songwriting of Hanneman the way that Reign In Blood and South Of Heaven did. It should be noted up front that the road taken with the nonsensically named Repentless, Slayer's 11th studio LP, did not go the road that ought to have been taken, but it did indeed culminate to a return to form of sorts. That return is to the creative nadir that they were stuck in following the turn of the millennium and the really bad experimental flop that preceded it.

Comparisons have already been made by some to this sad, tired affair and the infamous crapshoot God Hates Us All, and while there is some degree of truth to that in terms of quality, stylistically this is not exactly the same. There are several noteworthy attempts at moving towards the rapid paced slaughter-fest of Reign In Blood and also a few more moderated efforts that attempt the atmospheric creepiness of South Of Heaven and Seasons In The Abyss, and overall this is a bit more organized, methodical, and less chaotically executed than the 2001 album that shall not be named, but most of it just falls utterly flat. This album is actually a very good demonstration in what a band sounds like when they've actually run out of fresh ideas, as most of these songs are very indistinct, despite being so bare bones and stripped down that they are almost punishingly easy to follow.

The over-promotion of this album probably didn't help matter much, but the string of inconsistent single releases that preceded this album were a good indication of the few strengths and many weaknesses at work. One of the high points is the final preceding single "You Against You" which manages to kick off on a fairly solid mid-paced groove before launching into faster territory, though the result is something more along the lines of a faster offering on Seasons In The Abyss rather than the truly chaotic fervor of Reign In Blood. Similar stories are to be found in "Atrocity Vendor", the best song on here and the last composition offering of Hanneman, and also the reasonably fast but fairly restrained title song "Repentless". To be clear, by the standards of this band's past greatness, these songs are more passable than outright brilliant, despite the fact that Gary Holt does provide some pretty sweet guest guitar solos.

The dregs that rounds out the remaining majority of this album vary in degrees of musical poverty, but they all share an overly contrived and tired demeanor that just doesn't become a band with Slayer's legacy. Whether it's on the faster end of things with the overly simplified speeder "Implode" or the plodding and lifeless attempt at revisiting Hanneman's creepy atmospheric ventures on "When The Stillness Comes", or the oversupply of moderately fast filler, it's all extremely sub-par, despite being reasonably well produced, and featuring fairly competent lead guitar work and a respectably solid vocal performance out of Tom Araya, who is nevertheless showing his age as he barely manages to keep his voice above a mid-ranged shout. It might be a tad hyperbolic to say, but the hippie caricature of Jesus that Kerry King and company love to depict negatively could probably kick this album's ass.

Ruminations on Slayer's Lack of Repentance; - 64%

SlayerRob, September 18th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD + blu-ray, Nuclear Blast (Digipak, Limited Edition)

Often times when I'm watching my favorite sports team stink it up, I sometimes feel the cognitive dissonance of wishing they'd finally hit rock bottom, letting the game fall out of reach so I can quit having my hopes dashed. I've felt the same way about Slayer in the 21st century.

While 2001's one-note, nu-metal tinged God Hates Us All managed to keep things tonally consistent (for better or worse), 2006's average-at-best Christ Illusion felt like a band pulling in two different directions. Yet 2009's World Painted Blood was an inspired return to form, featuring immediate, catchy thrash nuggets. It wasn't a classic, but it was a startling late-career comeback.

Then Lombardo was fired, and Jeff Hanneman tragically died.

Hanneman's death was a stunning loss for the metal community, after which many hoped and expected that the band would call it quits, having lost two core members. Slayer, however, decided to soldier on. Much grousing ensued over the prospect over a completely King-penned album,. After six years, Repentless finally arrived...but is it any good?

Sort of. To its detriment, Repentless often sounds like a band running on fumes. In addition to it's awful title (what is it? a Satanic LLC?), riff-shapes we've heard countless times before reappear...and reappear again later on the album. Detuned groove riffs have also resurfaced despite being all but completely eschewed on the prior album. While these are not inherently a bad thing in capable hands, Slayer's attempts to groove have generally sounded like strained mimicry of acts much better at that sound. Hearing them resurface here is an unfortunate byproduct of King's near-monopoly on the songwriting.

It's also a relatively slow album by Slayer's standards, though this isn't the problem. Rather, it's the lazy approach to songwriting that King employs. King is guilty of thrash-by-numbers at numerous points, to where one could easily hum a riff before hearing it.

Yet once loses hope, the band tends to find its sweet spot and dig themselves out of a hole. The awkwardly titled "Delusions of Saviour" is an instrumental opening that is pleasant enough but largely goes nowhere, but then immediately gives way to "Repentless", an energetic, scorching track that will likely become a new staple in live sets; Araya's voice sounds livelier than it has in decades here. Bostaph offers some great drum fills on "Take Control", and throughout the album as a whole. "Cast the First Stone" bears more of a resemblance to latter-era Testament than Slayer, but packs a severe punch. "Piano Wire", the sole song to have a Hanneman co-writing credit, is a quality timewarp to the Slayer of old, with dissonant riffs and a looming sense of despair. "You Against You" resembles the raw, unbridled tenacity of Divine Intervention's "Mind Control" (in fact, the second half of the album is significantly better than the first).

But too many of these songs are lifeless and lacking identity for this effort to be deemed an overwhelming success. "When the Stillness Comes" has a chilling intro, but squanders that goodwill when the verse begins (at Rockstar Mayhem Fest, this song went over like a dull thud). "Take Control" features Araya in half-assed Diabolus vocal form, and he sounds positively bored on the otherwise decent "Implode". "Chasing Death" resembles a demo track from an up and coming band, hardly worthy of the Slayer brand.

If this album is guilty of one thing, it's how mundane it is - a band that was once revolutionary and exciting should not be committing such crimes. While there are enjoyable songs throughout the album, particularly the second half, the highs aren't particularly high. When Repentless is good, it's rarely if ever great. At its worst, it's more forgettable than bad. That Slayer is still writing good material 34 years after their inception could be considered a victory of sorts, especially after the loss of two critical members. But it's rather deflating to see the band playing it so safe and by the book, especially when there are moments on this album, such as the aforementioned "Piano Wire" that recall the greatness of the past.

Repentless, I suppose, could be considered an occasionally inspired mess, often light on ideas but solid in execution. For an up and coming band, it might be an encouraging start. For Slayer, it's inexcusable. But I suppose for now, it will have to do.

Relentful. - 45%

Napalm_Satan, September 17th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

I really thought that Slayer had got their shit back together after the very good World Painted Blood. They had their maximum anger style pretty much worked out after '09... but clearly Hanneman had a very large part to play in their continued ascent from their slump towards the turn of the century. Not to say he was perfect as a songwriter (Diabolus In Musica, anyone?), but he got his act together sooner than the others, because this is a worrying regression.

I have said this before, but here goes: Slayer have done 3 things very well. They can either up the tempo and write many short songs with almost no let-up in the intensity (Reign In Blood, Undisputed Attitude), slow down and focus more on a sinister and/or doom-like atmosphere (Hell Awaits, South Of Heaven), or mix the two together in varying degrees (1990-1994, and 2006-2009). What they suck at is essentially a 90's version of the latter - slow, pseudo-sinister groove that aims for superficial heaviness rather than letting the atmosphere produced do the talking. And here in lies the main issue: Repentless focuses far too much on the groove nonsense that dominated their worst album, the abominable Diabolus in Musica. Stuff like 'When the Stillness Comes' and 'Cast the First Stone' are bad attempts at recapturing the essence of past atmospheric tracks like 'Divine Intervention' or 'Dead Skin Mask'. This slow, plodding rubbish pretty much dominates the mid-section of the album, leading to the ever annoying 'blur in the middle' that so many albums seem to have.

And of course, another issue that arises from this is that the more slow tracks there are, the less fast ones there are, obviously. They are too few and far between, and though these tend not to work as well for reasons I shall get on to, 'Repentless', 'Atrocity Vendor' and the 3/4 paced 'Implode' are a massive step up from the annoying grooves that form this album's bulk. They essentially amount to b-side World Painted Blood songs, and are just below the same level of quality as GHUA era thrashers like 'Disciple' or 'Exile'.

The reason that even better tracks on this album are below the quality of their former second worst album is because the two members you notice the most, the guitarist and the vocalist, sound goddamn tired. Araya is really starting to sound old now. He pretty much curbed back that horrid strained sound on World Painted Blood, but his performance here is sub-par. The problem is that his aging voice does not convey the sinister atmosphere so much, despite his best efforts to do so. Though he is listenable, he hardly does the slow tracks any favours. His performance on faster tracks sounds worse, for some reason. He is using the same style as before, but it just comes across as less driven and passionate than on their 2009 effort.

However, I can't blame Tom entirely for this, because the riffs underneath him sound more tired in execution and composition than him. Though King's early contributions to the band are often ignored (for instance, he wrote the music for 'Evil Has No Boundaries', 'Show No Mercy', 'Black Magic' AND 'Piece By Piece'), his songwriting capabilities have degraded somewhat, as it turns out. As stated, his work on the slow tracks leaves much to be desired, and even the faster ones have issues. They never go anywhere. They start well, but just kind of aimlessly thrash (or groove) about before ending arbitrarily. His riffs are mostly rehashes of previous work, either hearkening back to the boring grooves of 2001 or the mediocre rehashing of their faster 80's songs. They are kind of boring to be honest, which is not something you would expect from any Slayer album.

The rest of the instrumentation isn't too bad, though. Tom Araya was never a notable bassist (because you can never fucking hear it), though the album doesn't sound thin or light, so clearly he is doing his job. Paul Bostaph has once again filled the shoes of Dave Lombardo, and performs admirably in the face of boring groove. He is constantly trying to jazz up the music with several fills thrown all over the place. It is not wankery by any stretch, but no amount of good drumming can cover up unsuitable vocals and mediocre riffs. Gary Holt steps in to replace Hanneman and King on the leads. This finally brings to an end the self-parody of stupid whammy bar noise that plagues even their best recent songs. In their place are more melodically accomplished, yet aggressive, conventional soloing that is not too far removed from his work with Exodus. However, once again, good riffs, tolerable vocals and decent songwriting make the album, with suitable production helping considerably.

That is another thing to address - the production. It is a step up from the exceptionally dry and loud Death Magnetic styled production found on their 2009 album, and is one of the few improvements they make. However, they kept the loud part of the equation, and essentially go back to the artificially loud GHUA production job. Loud mixes doesn't make any sort of dull tripe more aggressive, because the music has to be aggressive before the job can accentuate the fury behind the music. There are no dynamics in sound or mood to speak of. Slow moments are just as loud as fast ones, because that is the modern production job.

This is not Slayer's worst, but it is Slayer's second worst. Even God Hates Us All is a more driven and passionate sounding album than this. Despite its moments, there are no 'Payback's or 'Disciple's here. That album even managed slow songs better, because 'Bloodline' and 'Scarstruck' are some of my favourite modern Slayer songs. Another issue this album has is a massive sinking feeling surrounding it - because as the past has proven, Slayer albums with only one guitarist writing on them always prove to be flops. Unless King stops hogging the songwriting and lets Holt contribute; things can only get worse for Slayer from here. If it does happen, then great! We will see a more traditional Bay Area sound from them, what with Holt's roots in Exodus. If not... then just don't bother with Slayer anymore. As a fan, saying that really hurts. It would seem that Hanneman was Slayer after all.

R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman (31/01/1964 - 02/05/2013).

"We're Slayer! Buy Our Meaningless Shit!" - 45%

Slasher666, September 16th, 2015

After months of hype and bullshit marketing, thrash legends Slayer have returned with their newest album release known as "Repentless." I don't know what's funnier: the content of the album itself or the fact that Kerry King had just realized that "repentless" isn't actually a word? Well, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Slayer have been recording the same stuff since the beginning for over 30 years. This album is definitive proof that Slayer have literally run out of material to give us as well as the fact that they're past their prime.

Now, what's so special about this album, other than the fact that Exodus' Gary Holt and former Slayer drummer Paul Bostaph are back in the mix? Well, not a whole lot. It's what you'd expect from the band. Fast riffs, the same solos in every song that sound incredibly familiar with the rest of their discography and Araya's blown out vocals, which have been around since the late 90s. The guitars sound a little too fast and light. What I mean by this is if we compare "Repentless" to an album such as "Reign in Blood," you'll notice that the latter has speed, intensity and heavy riffing. The vocals and guitars are in sync with the drums and the overall musicality is perfect. Repentless, on the other hand, the instruments sound a little sloppy and light. The lyrics are lazy at times, especially when it comes to the lyricism. They throw the word "fuck" around as if they were using it as filler, like they were running out of words to put into the song. Not to mention that the lyrics, other than what I've mentioned, are very tongue in cheek, they lack meaning, originality and creativity. As mentioned before, Tom Araya's vocals are blown out, age has definitely caught up with him. I admire the fact that he's still able to belt them out but like Metallica's James Hetfield, they're dry. My main complaint about this installment is the fact that it's same stuff, again. Like, I can't barely tell the difference between this album and their previous work "World Painted Blood." I can't tell if they're genuinely trying to write new material or if they're just giving us the finger, saying "fuck you, give us your money." I love Slayer, have been to their shows and have been a fan for years but I can't help but feel disappointed. Surely, after all the hype the band has brought to this album along with their wine brand, clothing line, shot glass endorsement and all else, that we would expect to get something good here. Sadly, I was wrong.

Needless to say, Slayer isn't what they once were. Half of the original members are gone, their last good album, in my mind, was South of Heaven. They may be past their prime but I have to admire them for the fact that they're still going at it and bringing a sound that all fans recognize, even though it's really repetitive. Despite their recent loss of Jeff Hanneman, this band is filled with very talented and legendary musicians. It's just sad to see their talent wasted on an album such as this. On the bright side, at least they're not like Metallica, right?

Slayer – Repentless - 25%

Daemonium_CC, September 15th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

Okay, this is going to be a tough one to write. Like many others, I grew up with this band and have been following them since 1991. I’ve seen them live over ten times. I really wanted this to be good, but.. it’s just not.

For some reason, everything after Divine Intervention has just rubbed me the wrong way. I could never really get into it, except for a few tracks here and there, like “Point” and “Screaming From the Sky” and maybe “War Zone”, for it’s straight up aggression. But really that’s about it. God Hates Us All was terrible (thankfully there are none of those horrendous nu metal riffs here), Christ Illusion and World Painted Blood were just forgettable. And especially after losing Jeff, I was really curious to see what they would, or could, bring to the table.

Ah, Jeff. The guy lurking in the shadows, never taking the spotlight, but writing the best and most classic tunes for the band. He didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Jeff was the deal. He didn’t feel the need for flash, or hell, even interviews. He just did what he did. He did it better than most. Sadly he’s not with us anymore, but if there was ever a member of Slayer I would have really liked to sit down and talk with, it would have been Jeff, hands down. He just seemed like a very interesting person, and a lot deeper than what he would allow the media to see. He liked his privacy and I absolutely respect that.

I’m not going to make comparisons to classic albums because we all know deep down that Slayer will never be able to deliver on that level again. But come on.. the output on this album, for more than half of it, is just weak. Bland riffs, bland arrangements, and terribly stupid lyrics. Remember when Slayer lyrics used to be fucked up and good? Well they haven’t been like that for 20 years now. The lyrics here are embarrassing.

The production and sound on the album is decent. It’s nothing special, even with Terry Date behind the desk. Everything sounds okay, but just bland and uninspired. The only real problem I have is with the kick drums. How the hell did that even get approved? Really, that’s the kick drum sound? Speaking of drums, Paul Bostaph’s performance here is very, very boring. He’s just doing the bare minimum and nothing else, I never would have expected him to play it so safe. Let me also point out that I have no problems with Paul and in fact, I think his style suits Slayer more, as he’s more of a mechanical, cold type of drummer which fits in with their music better in my opinion. But here, he’s not even that. There’s no creativity in his drumming whatsoever.

Gary Holt is on the album, and I love Gary. I’m really glad he didn’t contribute anything to this, because pretty much nothing is note worthy. He played a few leads and that’s it. Tom sounds bored and out of place at times, and Kerry..

Kerry is really getting on my fucking nerves. There’s no other way to say it. He’s treated Dave like shit over the years, talked shit about Paul when he first left the band, and was even a bit of a dick when talking about Jeff after his passing. And he will milk Slayer fans for every cent that he can because to him Slayer is just a business now – he doesn’t want to let it go. He would never have the courage to just stop Slayer and start another band. Why? No one would give a fuck. And he’s not capable of writing anything else other than half assed Slayer riffs, a mere shadow of his former self. Kerry is great live, but that’s about it.

I really wanted this to be good, but besides “You Against You”, the album goes in one ear and out the other. That’s the only track which is a bit different from the others and it works. The riffs are good, the arrangement is good, hell, even the leads are good. Thanks Gary.

While the album is not terrible and doesn’t feature anything as hideous as “Threshold” (seriously, go back and listen to that song again) it’s still not good enough. Slayer need to REALLY step up their game, they need to take risks, they need to be madly aggressive and angry next time around so people will go “holy fucking shit – that’s amazing”, and if they’re not willing to do that, then they should just stop.

Only for the die hard's, I suppose. I thought I was one of them, but I guess I’m not. I’d rather listen to something else.

R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman, 1964-2013.

When the Mediocrity Comes - 65%

TheLegacyReviews, September 14th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, 12" vinyl, Nuclear Blast

Does Slayer really need an introduction? All right then… It’s been six years since we had a piece of material from these old fellas which is quite a gap, and a lot of shit happened since 2009. New label, new members, new production team and the loss of Jeff.

“Repentless” starts off pretty strong with the title-track being introduced by the instrumental Delusions of Saviour. While the intro-track, just like 95% of other intro-tracks, could've been used for a mid-section, it feels a bit redundant. However, I do enjoy the track it breaks into which is the title-track, Repentless. Bostaph thrusts a lot of life into the track with his all around solid and tight performance. But after that, there’s a wide gap until something worthwhile comes along. When the Stillness Comes was very quickly compared to South of Heaven, and therefore labelled as a major throwback. However, this track does not make it into the highlights spot. It never really takes off properly and seems unfinished. But I will give them credit for bringing some variation into the album. Slayer already did a track reminiscent of South of Heaven in 1994 with 213, which I think is a better track. We’re also treated with some recycling in the likes of Atrocity Vendor. It was originally recorded during the “World Painted Blood”-sessions and released on a single the year after. There’s not much change from the original version. Still corny and forgettable. Implode is probably one of the worst tracks off the album and it was definitely not a wise decision for this to be the first track to be heard from the album back when it was announced. Forgettable. That’s the word I have to use again and again. It’s not until the second last track, You Against You that we get something that’s worth coming back for. Just as the title-track it mixes some good riffing with skank-beats and just good songwriting. Of course, this does not rank among the band’s best offerings, but it’s solid, and a relief on this record. It’s really hard not to shout along when Tom yells out “YOU AGAINST YOU!”

Behind the knobs is Terry Date, who has produced a lot of albums which I love, not only because the songwriting but also the production. He does a good job on this album. I am pretty sure he had some restrictions, because the albums sounds like you would expect. Just like a Slayer record in 2015. However, credit is due for the heaviness on the record. The instruments have a good depth and punch to them. I do however think both “Christ Illusion” and “World Painted Blood” had more character in its productions, especially when it comes to the guitars. But it wouldn’t had made any sense to go down the same road once more.

To the touchy subject, the line-up. This is the first album without Jeff and once again Dave is out of the band. A lot of fans have said that it’s not Slayer without Lombardo and continue to do so. And as an almost lifelong Slayer fan I would like to say that it is total fucking bullshit. Bostaph is a really good drummer and if anyone shines on “Repentless”, it’s definitely him. People seem to forget the past he has with Forbidden, featuring on two of the best thrash albums to come out of the bay area. Whether Dave or Paul plays on this record doesn’t change the fact of who’s at the helm of this ship. Would the album have been better if Jeff was alive? Maybe and maybe not. “God Hates Us All” and “Diabolus in Musica” are still pretty bad, and don’t take that the wrong way, I still grief Jeff’s death. Would it have been better if Gary Holt contributed? Maybe and maybe not. “Blood in Blood Out” was definitely not the return everybody had hoped for. But I hope to see him contribute in the future, because Slayer won’t stop until both King and Araya are in the nursing home. So throw out your goddamn “everything but the original line-up is not Slayer”-goggles. I witnessed this line-up perform at Wacken 2014, which is on the deluxe edition, and it is a fucking power demonstration. As Gary Holt said, he is not some new kid, or a groove metal-dude. He’s a veteran. And so is Bostaph.

I only find two tracks worthy of coming back to on this record. The title-track, Repentless and You Against You. Would I mind hearing these tracks live? No… Would I mind hearing something from “Christ Illusion” or “World Painted Blood” live? No… But I sure as hell would prefer a set-list only with excerpts from the first six studio releases and hear the classics. At least it has a pretty face. The cover for this album is without a doubt the best since “Reign in Blood”.

If I were to place it on the list, I would place it under the previous two albums, but it’s definitely a better record than both “God Hates Us All” and “Diabolus in Musica”. But, what you see is what you get. More of the same. For some, that is fine and is going to cut it perfectly, and I’d wish I was on the same wagon. But I’m not.

R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman, 1964-2013.

Written for Reigning Damnation.

"I'm pretty sure that God still hates us all." - 23%

DawnoftheShred, September 14th, 2015

It was with heavy heart that I learned that Slayer, the de facto thrash gods and my favorite band of all time eeeever, would attempt to persevere after the untimely death of Jeff Hanneman. Usually, when the guy who pioneered your sound and wrote all of your best riffs departs for another plane of existence, that’s a pretty fucking sure sign that it’s time to throw in the towel. But instead of retiring with dignity on the heels of two very good resurrection pieces (I like ‘em, anyway), Kerry King and Tom Araya soldiered on, recruiting Exodus main-man Gary Holt for extra guitar duties and swapping formidable original drummer Dave Lombardo back out for jack-of-all-bands Paul Bostaph. A new Slayer album used to be a cause for celebration; now, it’s the most disappointing new release I’ve yet experienced and a final stain on the band’s great legacy.

The previous Slayer album that Repentless most immediately resembles is God Hates Us All, with a cleaner production than that album’s shitty “wall-of-noise” approach that obscured a lot of riffs but without any of the catchy “so-bad-they’re-kinda-good” numbers like “Payback” or “Scarstruck”. Otherwise the two are very comparable: the emphasis on low range chugging, slow grooves (like 2/3 of the album), simplified arrangements, cut-and-paste angry numbskull lyrics, and forgettable, interchangeable riffs are calling cards of both records. Remember the classic “Slayer riff” and its variations? Those weird diminished melodies you’d find in tracks like “South of Heaven”, “Beauty Through Order”, “Jihad”, “At Dawn They Sleep” or whatever? Well apparently Hanneman wrote all of those, because there are virtually no distinctive picked riffs here. Instead, there is an absurd reliance on simple chugging and chord changes, with the occasional recycled Phrygian melodies you’ve heard a million times on Iced Earth albums.

Hell, the album even opens with one! “Delusions of Saviour” is among the more pointless intro tracks I’ve ever come across, a brief back and forth between two generic slow riffs with some King wah nonsense before the album proper. The bulk of the album expands little on this concept and tracks like “Piano Wire”, “Cast the First Stone” “Pride in Prejudice”, and “Vices” all bleed together with nary a memorable riff between them; you may lump them in with “Overt Enemy”, “Americon”, “Human Disease”, or any of the other indistinctive chuggers from the band’s not-too-distant past. Araya does put in a surprisingly good vocal performance given the quality of the material he’s forced to work with and the occasional awkward diction. And you’ve also got to admire Holt’s attempts to provide a bit of lead magic in Jeff’s absence (and apparently Kerry’s too), but most of these songs are unsalvageable even as a metal primer.

Repentless also mostly eschews the experimental numbers that have dotted Slayer albums for the last two decades (“Serenity in Murder”, “Playing with Dolls”, “Addict”). The closest they come to anything even remotely different than the album’s repentlessly bland formula is “When the Stillness Comes,” which merely features a “spooky” arpeggiated clean riff intro and a more spoken-word style delivery from Araya. Traditionally, these sorts of songs/parts of songs were useful as melodic relief between the thrash nightmares. Here it’s just a slight variation on the plodding flavor that’s near omnipresent throughout the album. And the clean riff wouldn’t even be that memorable if it wasn’t the only one on the album. I suppose all the unforgettable, haunting clean bits from “213”, “Divine Intervention”, “Addict”, and “Spill the Blood” were Jeff’s ideas too.

On the rare occasions when the songs do pick up the tempo, things don’t fare too much better. Paul Bostaph’s skills have atrophied quite considerably since his early 90’s peak on albums like Twisted Into Form and Divine Intervention. His performance is very straightforward and by-the-numbers, without any of Lombardo’s devil-may-care playfulness, and every supposedly fast bit on the album always feels a few bpm’s shy of what it should be. In disbelief, I went back to some of the stuff from their last two albums, and tracks like “Flesh Storm” and “Psychopathy Red” still sound pretty reckless and energetic to these ears. Supposed thrashers like “Repentless” and “Implode” sound like they’re being restrained by comparison and even though they’re faster than the others, they’re still mostly analogous to the generic arrangements of their slower brethren: simple tremolo riff here, held chords there, recycle and repeat with maybe a solo or mid-paced bit to mix it up. Guess clever riff-cycles, evil harmonies, and devastating speed riffs were Jeff’s trademark.

As a final insult added to injury, I was initially somewhat excited to see “Atrocity Vendor” on the track list. This was Hanneman’s last composition for the band, previously only available as a B-side, and while it wasn’t the greatest, it was still a lot of fun. Disappointingly, it has been rerecorded from the original version, robbing it of much of its intensity and Jeff’s final solo work. The fact that it’s still a highlight is a symptom of the sad reality of Repentless’ quality.

On the plus side, the packaging is quite well done. The deluxe digipak folds out into a huge upside down cross with a lot of dark medieval-style artwork that’s interesting to ponder. I’d like to find a way to mount it up on my basement wall somehow; at the very least, this would physically separate it from my CD collection and help discourage future listens.

I expected this to be bad, but even I wasn’t prepared for what is truly perhaps their worst album. And this is coming from a raging fanboy that unironically believes that almost everything they’ve done is impossibly fucking awesome (including the recent Christ Illusion and World Painted Blood) and can even find a few things to like about the deservedly-maligned Diabolus and GHUA albums. Without Hanneman, Slayer is a walking corpse in desperate need of a final resting place.

If it seems like I can’t shut the fuck up about a guy that doesn’t even play on the album, understand that his absence is palpable. Dude was my hero, and there’s nothing heroic about this inexcusable travesty.


Highlights: “Relentless”, “Take Control”, “Atrocity Vendor”

Slayer - Repentless - 71%

Silicon Messiah, September 13th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Nuclear Blast

2009 saw the release of World Painted Blood, Jeff Hanneman's last album with the iconic Slayer. The album was a bit of a letdown, by Slayer's standards. Now, six years later, the time has come for a follow up. Slayer have themselves called Repentless "the most anticipated album of the year", though that's a bit of a stretch. Especially considering the gigantic shadow cast by Iron Maiden's The Book Of Souls, released only a week prior. Still, I've hyped myself up a good bit in anticipation for Slayer's latest effort.

It is, of course, Slayer's first full length since co-founder Hanneman's tragic passing some two years ago, and Kerry King has had to fill in to lay down what would have been Hanneman's guitars, with the exception of some solos thanks to Gary Holt of Exodus, who has of course played the late Hanneman's guitar parts live for some years.

The album consists of twelve fairly short songs, where the longest songs both clock in at four minutes and 21 seconds, meaning what we have is basically a bunch of no bullshit, straight to the point, thrash metal tracks. 'When The Stillness Comes' has that dark, brooding intro before breaking into a mid tempo thrasher, reminiscent in style of 'Seasons In The Abyss', one of my all time favorite Slayer tracks. It is one of the album's highlights, thanks to the dark atmosphere and some incredible dueling guitars.

Other tracks, like 'Implode' (improved from the track which was revealed last year) and 'You Against You', move things to another familiar area. Namely neck thrashing headbangers in the style of classic Slayer. In tracks like these, the guitars are just sublime. King really shows off, showing he's still got it. However, 'Vices' and 'Take Control' are songs that don't do much for me. They mostly feel stale and repetitive. Most of the material though, is solid, if not magnificent.

The solos that Gary Holt do put in are solid, and he's shown in live performances that he is a worthy replacement of the iconic Hanneman. The other notable change is of course the departure of drummer Dave Lombardo. He's been replaced by the familiar Paul Bostaph, who played on several Slayer albums during the 90's and early 00's. Including two of my favorites, Diabolus In Musica and God Hates Us All. So, there's no doubt that he'd be a solid drummer on Repentless, which of course, he is. There's nothing incredibly magnificent to mention, but he gets the job done and the drums have a very good sound, production wise, as does that of the guitars and Tom Araya's bass and vocals. Crisp and clean, really letting the musical prowess show.

Araya doesn't sound as angry as he has in the past, though. At least, that's how I experience it. Some tracks could have needed a bit more anger in his explosive shrieks. For example, 'You Against You' is angry as hell during the instrumental parts, but lacking in the vocal department. I do however like Araya without a word of complaint in 'Chasing Death' and the aforementioned 'When The Stillness Comes'. Not that it can ever be mistaken that Araya sounds as potent and venomous as ever.

Hanneman penned 'Piano Wire' is another of the highlights, showing some tough as all hell, mid tempo chugging riffs alongside Araya's almost punk like thrash mastery on the vocals, that just seems to put more flames to the fire. All in all, Repentless is clearly a step up from its predecessor. It's a complete album in the sense that there seems to be little filler, and everything just fits. The band sounds and feels very tight and tough. Even though no single song actually sticks out with its awesomeness, as a whole, it's a pretty solid fucking thrash album. Let's just hope we don't have to wait another six years for the next one.

Standout tracks: Repentless, When The Stillness Comes, Piano Wire

Originally written for 'getmetal.com'