Release Date: Sep 11, 2015
Record label: Nuclear Blast
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Speed/Thrash Metal
Itâ€™s not like you donâ€™t know whatâ€™s coming when Slayer hits your ears. Their reputation precedes them, being one of the progenitors of the â€œSatanic Panicâ€ 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 â€˜EVILâ€™) to metal for three decades.
A lot has changed for Slayer since their last effort ‘World Painted Blood’ hit shelves six years ago. While drummer Dave Lombardo was replaced two years ago by previous member Paul Bostaph, the band’s Jeff Hanneman passed away later that same year, breaking the quartet in half. Their eleventh record, however, proves that it’s still business as usual for the newly-united four-piece.
Despite the vanishing drummer syndrome that affects most bands of their ilk at some point, Slayer have always been a model of consistency and a band that fans of vicious, vein-bursting heavy metal can rely on. As a result, the death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman – author of many of Slayer’s biggest anthems – caused many devotees to fear the worst. They needn’t have: Repentless is an imperious cuffing away of all that cynicism, original members Tom Araya and Kerry King’s determination to keep the evil thrash flag flying high manifesting itself in an exhilarating blast of prime, 21st-century Slayer, replete with all the breakneck tempos, whiplash-inducing changes of pace and swivel-eyed declarations of defiance that the faithful will quite rightly demand.
Revamped line-up deliver the goods on 11th album. In a way, Slayer are America’s Motörhead, relentless in depicting their vision, untouched by external influences, somehow inimitable. Increasingly, their catalogue can only be judged against itself.. ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads.
The loss of Jeff Hanneman in 2013 was devastating to the music world. The riffs he crafted with Slayer helped form an entire genre. Thrash took all the energy and rebellion of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and channeled it into pure rage. Furious riffs and merciless double bass drums set the world ablaze, and Slayer, along with Metallica, Anthrax, and Megadeth, found themselves at the forefront.
It seems fitting that I still have the memory of Metallica’s headline set at Reading relatively fresh in my mind as I write this review. In the world of the ‘big four’ thrash bands (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, as if you didn’t know) there are really only the big two: generally speaking you’re either a Metallica person or a Slayer person. I used to be the former, and fervently held Metallica’s willingness to try new things, to evolve, against the fact that Slayer seemed content to make the same album over and over again.
"Delusions of Saviour" opens up this important album for Slayer and does so in grand Slayer fashion: the moody instrumental sounds like something off of South of Heaven, the band seemingly very aware that they are on thin ice here. After all, this is the first album without long-time guitarist Jeff Hanneman (in his place is Gary Holt of Exodus, who fills in capably), first album for a new label and the first album with Paul Bostaph returning on drums. The title track kicks things into high gear, and it has the punked-up side of Slayer covered, Tom Araya's vocals frantic, the production frayed and ragged, the solos outrageous; follow-up tune "Take Control" shreds hard and fast.
Repentless, the 12th album from the thrash metal institution Slayer, comes at the most fraught time in the band's career. Founding guitarist and songwriter Jeff Hanneman's passing in 2013 from cirrhosis of the liver looms large; it's impossible to overstate the impact he had on the group. His hardcore influences, and the way these influences warped the group's early NWOBHM style, formed the more extreme wing of thrash that would later inform death and black metal.
To say that Slayer have been through the mill over the last few years is something of an understatement. Original drummer Dave Lombardo left the band, supposedly over issues concerning the band’s financial affairs. Then, guitarist Jeff Hanneman contracted necrotizing fasciitis from a spider bite that apparently nearly led to amputation of his arm.
Given Slayer’s legendary status, a smidgen of deference was to be expected upon the arrival of Repentless, the 11th studio album from the thrash-metal icons. Slayer has more than earned our love and respect over their three decades of uncompromising existence, and after the loss of co-founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman and split with key drummer Dave Lombardo, no one would’ve blamed them for coasting into retirement. The fans didn’t ask for a new album — we’re more than happy to spin well-worn copies of Reign in Blood and cheer along once the Slaytanic Wehrmacht rolls into the nearest concert hall — but were given one anyway, a gift as welcome as glitter shower gel at Christmas, when the machine that powers Slayer the brand as well as Slayer the band decreed that it was time for them to scrabble together a new album.
Decades after Metallica and Megadeth started writing radio-friendly songs, thrash-metal firebrands Slayer are still courting controversy — depicting Jesus in hell on their new LP cover and howling, "A little violence is the ultimate drug/Let's get high!" on standout "Vices." Chilean-American frontman Tom Araya even teases a race war on "Pride in Prejudice." It's Slayer's first record without late guitarist-songwriter Jeff Hanneman — but it's their most vital, bloodthirsty offering since 2001's God Hates Us All, with furious guitar solos from Kerry King and guest Gary Holt. Slayer may never change. With an album like this, why should they? .
In the decades since Slayer's inception in 1982, although the band have messed about with various techniques and sounds -- they even cut a disastrous nu-metal album -- they've never really been big on experimentation. Of the big four -- with Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth -- they've remained closer to their roots than any of the others. Repentless, their debut for Nuclear Blast, is their first record in six years and showcases a host of changes.
Slayer, the Californian thrash metal quartet, inspire loyalty more than any other metal band currently in operation, so it deeply pains this lifetime fanboy to report that their 11th studio album is largely mundane. They’ve released sub-par albums in the past (Undisputed Attitude in 1996, and, arguably, Diabolus In Musica, two years later) but the difference this time is that Repentless was expected to be – indeed needed to be – a memorable piece of work. In 2013, the band lost their drummer, Dave Lombardo, to financial disputes, and guitarist Jeff Hanneman to liver failure; as a result, the remaining twosome of singer/bassist Tom Araya and guitarist Kerry King require an inspiring record to maintain momentum.
Slayer’s mid-’80s thrash-metal implied a set of willful extremes, but also an economy and focus. It found its essence in attitudes and strategies that wouldn’t go out of style: previews of the apocalypse, splattery guitar duels, minor keys, tempos rising above 200 beats per minute. “Repentless” is the sound of Slayer telling you that it still recognizes its essence, despite the fact that three people associated with its best work are now gone.