Friday, June 21, 2024

Review: Slayer – Repentless

It has been a dark few years for Slayer. No, I’m not talking about the overall tone of their music (which I’m pleased to say is still dark). In the last few years they’ve had to deal with the departure of drummer Dave Lombardo and the death of guitarist and lyricist Jeff Hanneman. Paul Bostaph replaces Lombardo on drums for the third time and Exodus axeman Gary Holt was bought in to help out on guitar.

Going into this album I was curious to hear if Slayer could still be Slayer without two of their key members. The answer: Yes. ‘Repentless’ is Slayers 11th studio album; follow up to the 2009 ‘World Painted Blood’.

The album starts with ‘Delusions of Saviour’, a great instrumental piece. It sets the tone of this outing very well. It grabs your attention quickly and prepares you for the journey the band is about to take you on.

Title track, ‘Repentless’, the third single from this outing has Slayer written all over it. The song actually feels as it has come off albums of the 1980’s. The speed and the brutality we expect from the band is ever present.

The standout song for me comes early on. ‘Take Control’ starts fast, the drums are deep and aggressive. It’s the brilliant guitar work from Kerry King and Holt that really holds the song together through the several tempo changes.

The guys slow it down for the next track, ‘When the Stillness Comes’. The band has done slower songs a few times in the past and the voice of Tom Aryra, with his rougher than ever sounding vocal range, mixed with Kerrys guitar are able to produce a very solid song that starts slow and finishes fast. It’s a welcome change from the wall of sound we are used to.

The song ‘Vices‘, while musically very good, is about Peadophiles within society. The subject matter is undoubtedly strong but it does feel stale and over used as it has been covered by several metal bands over the years.

slayerWith ‘Chasing Death‘, while I don’t like to speculate about the meanings of songs unless the meaning is clear, I do feel this song is Kerry King’s message to Jeff Hanneman. The song focuses on alcoholism and that with every drink you have you are literally chasing death. It is very direct and in your face.

The most experimental song on the album is ‘Piano Wire’ and it’s the last song that Jeff Hanneman had a part in writing. Originally part of the ‘World Painted Blood’ sessions it has been re-worked a tweaked slightly, which may be the reason it ends prematurely. It does sound a bit off in places with wonky sounding vocals. It’s different, but in a good way.

We first heard ‘Implode’ back in August 2014 and it is one of the other stand out songs on the album. The opening riff and drums grab your attention but it’s the calm yet powerful vocals from Aryra that slowly get quicker as the song progresses that is the real high point. I cant stress enough how easily the chorus will get stuck in your head too.

“IMPLODE!”

Unfortunately the album closer ‘Pride and Prejudice’ feels like it was written to get more minutes on the album, which is a shame. It slugs along exhaustingly without any real purpose.

I have always thought Slayer have been very strong on the lyrical side of things but some songs feel like Kerry King is trying too hard to fit in several clever phrases that in my opinion, don’t work and ultimately don’t feel right.

There has been quotes from various band members saying that the band will be calling it a day soon and that this could be the last Slayer album. ‘Repentless’ isn’t Slayers best album ever, but given the circumstances in which it was made, it’s not their worst. If this is going to be their last, at least they will go out on a high!

Julian Burnan
Julian Burnan
Jules. Rock n Roll is a way of life. I like Batman. "I have a knack for perceiving things, I can see how it sounds and feel how it sings"

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