Album Review: Slayer – Repentless

Slayer-RepentlessAlbum:  Repentless

Label:  Nuclear Blast

Release Date:  11 Sep 2015

Genre:  Thrash

Songs:  12

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

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About Reggie

Just a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!

Posted on September 22, 2015, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I probably never become a fanatic Slayer fan but like their first records, especially the “record of broad agreement” ‘Reign In Blood’, which is by far my go-to record when it comes to Slayer. While never have done a bad record (also I don’t know ‘Undisputed Attitude’, ‘Diabolus In Musica’ and ‘World Painted Blood’) I just think that Slayer are today on a quality level which makes them just one of many good Thrash bands, and nothing more.

    Especially the notion to talk of Slayer as some kind of undisputed kings of Thrash doesn’t live up to their music of quite some time now. It sometimes feel like Slayer are praised in the last years and again with this new record mostly for the fact that they are Slayer. Like you can’t be a Metalhead if don’t shout “Slayer” on every possibly occasion (I would really like to know how many of those shouters are actually true fans like you or accept that as just some kind of being a “true” Metal fan-dogma)

    ‘Repentless’ is a good record, with the title song, ‘Take Control’ and ‘Vices’ sticking out a little bit, in my perception, and ‘When Stillness Comes’ falling flat, for it’s pointless progression. In the end there was quite a view better Genre records coming out this year, from bands actually making music and not just sitting around for years, throwing dozens of merch garbage on the market and talking and doing millions of other things rather than compose and play music (the same with Metallica, Anthrax etc.).

    Anyway, good review and a rating that may suggests the critical opinion of a true fan;-)

    • Funny, I wrote a piece a while back about what is a true fan? I like Slayer, I like this album. It is certainly not a bad album as some would leave you to believe. It would have been nice if they let the two new members bring some of their influence in and see where it takes the band. They played it safe. Nothing wrong with that at all. But, they aren’t going to score any points for trying anything new. Then again, look what happened to Metallica when they changed direction. Thank you for commenting and I am glad you found a few things you like on Repentless.

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