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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".