Album Review: Slayer – Repentless

Slayer have always relied on controversies surrounding the release of a new album, however this time it isn’t the content that is making the headlines (despite a September 11th release), but the band themselves. The last few years have seen the loss of Hanneman and the departure of Lombardo and a subsequent series of tours with Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt. With the reception initially leaning to the cynical side, how well will the new lineup do on the band’s latest record?

Opening with a surprisingly clean tone, Delusions of Saviour is the slow build up before the storm. Repentless kicks in with a very Kreator sounding riff, which is okay by my book because Kreator. Tom’s voice still sounds powerful despite decades of screaming his tits off, granted he can’t hit those high notes he used to but that’s to be expected.

When The Stillness Comes appears to build up for minutes to the dramatic fast bit, only for the fast bit to end within no time which was slightly jarring. However the next track, Chasing Death, has that typical Slayer groove in the verse and you can’t help but slide into a foot tap.

Official Video for Repentless

Atrocity Vendor has a definite sound of God Hates Us All about it. This might be the Bostaph influence but the more you listen to it, the more God Hates Us All you can hear in Repentless. GHUA was a slower Slayer album (or slow by Slayer standards), and Repentless shares that pacing while maintaining the heaviness.

You Against You is one of the stronger songs on the album in my eyes, having a classic Slayer sound throughout before Pride In Prejudice brings the album to a slower close, with screeching guitars fading out.

By this point we know the Slayer formula though so there’s not much point in going for an in-depth discussion on each track but instead let’s focus briefly on the two game changers; Holt and Bostaph. This is the first album to feature both musicians, the previous World Painted Blood having both Jeff and Lombardo still in the fold.

It does make for strange listening the first time around as you find yourself not listening to the songs so much as theindividual members. You focus on Bostaph’s drums, and then you start trying to figure out what guitar you’re hearing.

Obviously, when you get Gary Holt you get a solid as fuck guitar player, so we all assumed that his work on the album would reflect that. Bostaph is a similar story, his previous work with Slayer was a testament to his ability and he certainly doesn’t seem to have lost the power (though the actual drum sound isn’t quite as punchy as I hoped, with some drums sounding almost wet in the mix).

While it is strange to hear a Hanneman-less Slayer, Repentless is probably the best way to honour his memory. They haven’t gone charging off down a new path, it’s the same old Slayer with a new engine room. While there will certainly be some who say no Hanneman/Lombardo – no Slayer (a point of view that has always confused me, would they say “no Di’Anno – no Iron Maiden?”), most fans of the group will be pretty satisfied with the album.

3.5/5

Repentless is out now via Nuclear Blast

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