June 22, 2024

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Long running American thrash band, SLAYER, is not ready to go away, despite looking like the group had finally run its course. The world’s most brutal musical act is back in 2015 with their eleventh studio album entitled “Repentless”. It is their first effort without their late guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who was their primary songwriter, having written most of their best tunes over the years. Is it a watered down version of the band limping to the finish line? Let me be the first to say that I was certainly the most vocal about these dudes needing to call it quits. When Kerry King and Tom Araya decided to oust original drummer Dave Lombardo over money issues, it looked like the wheels had totally fallen off this heavy metal monster for good. Opening with the creepy instrumental “Delusions Of Saviour”, the dark, frightening tone of the album is set and there is no doubt this band is still the most dangerous alive.

Guitarist/songwriter, Kerry King, deserves some credit. Yes, I said it. He knows if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Meaning, the formula that has always been this band’s bread and butter is the game plan he needed to stick to in their most difficult moment. The blitzkrieg tempo of thrash dominance that we have come to love and adore from this group undeniably erupts on the second cut, when the hellbent on taking everyone to ‘the old school’ title track “Repentless”, sets your damn hair on fire, but instead of using water to extinguish the flames someone pours gasoline over your skull to create a true human conflagration. New guitarist, Gary Holt of EXODUS fame, steps up and delivers on the fret board with a punishing six string performance like no other time in his career. Drummer Paul Bostaph is back in the chair – for the first time since 2001’s epic “God Hates Us All” album (that was, incidentally, released on this date fourteen years ago – 9/11/01, the day when nearly 3,000 Americans lost their lives at the World Trade Center buildings terrorist attacks) and he throws down without a doubt. Where I feel he lacks in the double bass greatness of Lombardo, he totally makes up for with his unrelenting groove. PANTERA producer, Terry Date, was brought in to make sure that the album sounded extra heavy, and I think he did a masterful job of getting the performances from everyone that needed to happen or it would have all definitely fallen flat. The production is the best I have heard all year. It is that flawless in its ability to proudly display the legendary raw power of the band.

Up next are the solid cuts “Take Control” and “Vices”, both which find vocalist/bassist, Tom Araya, at his most vicious-sounding in recent memory. I figured if this record had any balls, which it has in spades, the momentum would most likely let up near halfway point – but it simply does not. “Cast The First Stone”, which is my second favorite song next to the title track, has a brooding, end of the world-vibe. Araya roars in defiance, “When war cries echoing all begin, Never know any other way to fight, just win”. Next followed by the slower but majestic “When The Stillness Comes”, and overtly killer “Chasing Death”. “Implode”, which was the first single released, is about as bad ass as it can get. “Piano Wire”, which is the only Jeff Hanneman penned song included in the collection, does not disappoint. I think it’s really cool and honorable that the band included at least one by Jeff. Track number ten is “Atrocity Vendor”, and like everything else on this album it is uncompromising in its all out brutalness. The album concludes with the jamming “You Against You” and “Pride In Prejudice”. Unless a miracle happens, and some band releases an out-of-this-world masterpiece that nobody ever saw coming before 2015 is over, my straight up opinion is that “Repentless” is hands down the best album of the year.


SLAYER – “Repentless” (CD)

(Nuclear Blast/2015)

1 – Delusions Of Saviour
2 – Repentless
3 – Take Control
4 – Vices
5 – Cast The First Stone
6 – When The Stillness Comes
7 – Chasing Death
8 – Implode
9 – Piano Wire
10 – Atrocity Vendor
11 – You Against You
12 – Pride In Prejudice