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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 He's been replaced by the familiar Paul Bostaph, who played on several Slayer albums during the 90's and early 00's. Including two of my favorites, Diabolus In Musica and God Hates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'