Album Review: Slayer – Repentless
Posted by Reggie
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 11 Sep 2015
Length: 42 Minutes
Previous Albums: Show No Mercy (1983); Hell Awaits (1985); Reign In Blood (1986); South Of Heaven (1988); Seasons In The Abyss (1990); Divine Intervention (1994); Undisputed Attitude (1996); Diabolus In Musica (1998); God Hates Us All (2001); Christ Illusion (2006); World Painted Blood (2009)
Location: United States
I didn’t realize that it had been so long since Slayer’s “World Painted Blood” album back in ’09. I went to look back and see if we reviewed it, but Metal State didn’t exist back then. So, this is our first ever review of a Slayer album. Looks like a retro-review is due.
Back in the day…or a long time ago in the late 80s, early 90s listening to Slayer meant you crossed the line as a metal fan. I wasn’t keen to what was going on in Europe as a teenager (except for Helloween), but for American standards listening to and loving Slayer meant that you were full-blown metalhead and there was is no coming back from that. It was a one-way ticket to hell and I was in the front row. Slayer was a more extreme level than the rest of the Big Four and being a fan was taken seriously. Seeing a Slayer show in a small club was one of the most intense experiences I have ever had. On another note, I remember cutting school just to buy their live “Decade of Aggression” album with my buddy…we were such rebels, not! Just die-hard geeks. Anyway, owning Slayer material, going to their pummeling shows (10 of them), and trying to interpret their lyrics was time consuming, but time well spent.
Personally, I was eager to hear “Repentless” even though Slayer could have done better with an album title. Mainly, I wanted to see if Slayer was going to sound like Slayer or perhaps move in a slightly different direction with the return of Paul Bostaph and addition of Exodus’ Gary Holt. Apparently, King and Araya were not going to let the brand stray and I am not surprised. “Repentless” may not be Slayer’s best, but it does sound like Slayer. Where “World Painted Blood” bordered on a punk-infused style of thrash metal; quite aggressive, “Repentless” slows things down a bit…perhaps too much in some cases. Slayer is stronger when they just kill it and go f**king nuts!
Bottom line up front, “Repentless” does have some graciously brutal tracks. Repentless has a hell of a cadence as does You Against You and Take Control which is a cool thrasher. When The Stillness Comes starts slow, but ends on a speedier note. Pride In Prejudice chugs along, but if you were a fan of Expendable Youth or Skeletons of Society from “Seasons in the Abyss” you’ll probably dig it. Lyrically, Slayer has weakened their structural components. I always thought Slayer’s lyrics were well composed, but some several lines on “Repentless” leaving me scratching my head and I am not going to get into detail. If you don’t know what I mean don’t worry about it. Longtime fans will probably feel my pain. I think Slayer lost some edge trying to make things rhyme. And, I am one that mostly doesn’t care too much about lyrics, but when I hear things I shouldn’t be hearing on a Slayer album, it makes my head hurt. Luckily, the entire album doesn’t suffer on lyrics.
Overall, “Repentless” mostly revisits old territory for Slayer. You can hear bits and pieces that’ll make you think of “Show No Mercy,” “Divine Intervention,” “and Seasons…” to name a few. In the end it’s not a horrible thing…for Slayer. They have never been a band to explore distinctly new ground, so there is no reason to think they would or should do that now. Adding one previous member and a new one to the fold is keeping the ship sailing albeit on choppy waters. Perhaps some time to bond together, some consistency touring, and letting the “other two” write more stuff will hail a brutal gem next time around. For now they played it safe. However, a few tracks off “Repentless” will make my workout playlists for some time to come. Every Slayer album either full or just a song or two makes the hairs (what I have left) stands on the back of my neck. “Repentless” is no exception. 2.5 out of 5