Monday, September 14, 2015

Slayer - Repentless (2015)

There are few albums I have been so worried about as the 11th Slayer album "Repentless". Not only becaue the band has not done a impressive album in a long time, but it was also the first one since the death of Jeff Hanneman, original guitarist and major song writer for the band. Not only that, the band has had an infected break up with drummer Dave Lombardo to top it all off. The question was now up if replacements Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt could help Slayer enough to make "Repentless" a strong force to be recon with, enough to make Jeff smile from his throne in hell.

In the last two years or so, the band has released some tastes of the albums with highly various results. First was "Implode", which I first felt was like Slayer impersonating themselves. It had aggression and fury, but it was more controlled and laid back than what I want to hear from the band. Feels like they are running on 70% steam here, which is not acceptable. The next released track was "When The Stillness Comes", which literally put me to sleep. The idea might have been okay with this dark and gloomy setting, but it did not really pay off. However, the ending of that song was both surprising and impressive, which definitely got my hopes up that "Repentless" would have some fire in it, hopes that was more or less fulfilled when the title track was released.

I can honestly say that "Repentless" is one of the best songs the band has created in the last 20 years. Combining fast drumming, frenetic riffing, and a aggression that just screams Slayer, "Repentless" is the perfect modern interpretation of the band's classic stuff. I do think that Tom Araya sounds a little troubled, struggling to get those clean screams out, but his scratchy voice does give the song a nice little extra touch that makes you forget about the short comings. All in all, a fantastic song that is the clear stand out in the entire album.

What surprise me the most with the album "Repentless" is the whole inconsistency of the songs. Some songs are pure thrash candy, while others are about as sluggish as my gran (sorry, no offense). The band is doing nothing wrong in their performance, because thanks to the multiple years of touring together with the band, Gary Holt (Exodus) has established himself into the group and created a strong, solid bond with Kerry King. Paul is also doing a good job, which does not surprise me one bit since he was in the band before (92-96 and 97-01).

No, the problem lies in the song writing, which is incredibly inconsistent. "Pride And Prejudice" is a really rough song that ends the album in a bad way, while "Cast The First Stone" and "When The Stillness Comes" creates some kind of slow void inside the album, almost splitting it in half. Just a super weird decision to put those two together. I also think "Vices" is really strange, with its lyrics about drugs, although it does make me chuckle when Tom screams "Let's get high!". Good or bad? You decide. Listen instead to the amazing riffing in "Atrocity Vendor", the fury of the Araya in "You Against You", and also "Implode", that does surprisingly get better over time (especially the second half of the song).

Despite being a uneven experience, "Repentless" does live up to its name. The band shows that they do not regret anything and that they are still here and thrashing hard, despite the various events that has happened to the band lately. As you would guess, "Repentless" is not even close to match the classic albums, but it does have its charm, and stands up as one of the better albums the band has put out in the 21st century. Slayer is surely the true definition of repentless (even if it only is a made up word).

Songs worthy of recognition: Repentless, Atrocity Vendor, You Against You

Rating: 7/10 Piano wires

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