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Slayer – Repentless

Label: Nuclear Blast
Format: CD
Released: 2015
Reviewed By: Rich Catino
Rating: 6.5/ 10


Slayer are always Slayer, never treading off the beaten path for what they do. The music is always going to be fast, brutal, and evil, the only band of the Big Four (with Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth) to stick to the motto “if its not broke, don’t fix it”, but does that philosophy work if you almost always write the same album over and over again, never thinking outside the box, just a little? Slayer does suffer from this, but, within their own creative world, over their 30 year career have dabbled with and without melody, and modern influences (“Diabolus in Musica”, “God Hates Us All”).

 

“Repentless” is the first album with Paul Bostaph back on drums, minus founding member/guitarist/songwriter Jeff Hanneman who unfortunately passed away in 2013, with Gary Holt (Exodus) his replacement on four solos The foreboding, “South of Heaven” in its aesthetic, misleading intro ‘Delusions Of Saviour’ does not prepare one for the constant pounding and un-relentlessness of the title track. ‘Take Control’ maintains the intensity, again streamlined in delivery with a switch to a mid tempo groove for the chorus. Rhythmic Pantera/Machine Head influenced riffing is the basis to ‘Vices’, an element Slayer (is this more King, or Hanneman’s idea?) have incorporated to several songs since the mid 90s that only works half the time…case in point, the bag of sand that is ‘Cast The First Stone’, boring. Creatively, Slayer are much more interesting and musical when they go the ’At Dawn They Sleep’ and definitely “South Of Heaven” route, utilizing twin guitar harmonies, arranging almost progish songs structure for variety.

‘When The Stillness Comes’ is as unimaginative as ‘Cast the First Stone’, barely saves itself for the ride out. ‘Implode’ also gets better after a slow start. Jeff receives a writing credit for ‘Piano Wire’, the one tune for verses/chorus which incorporates that attention to some melody and Tom singing more(ish). At first, ‘Atrocity Vendor’ opening riff, drums/bass is a little different than the usual, a helpful ingredient before the arrangement hits its typical stride. ‘You Against You’ is one of the stronger composition ideas, Kerry King wrote a simple but effective riff pattern, the arrangement quickly speed up full throttle for Holt to do his thing for the solo and maintains a consistent punchy delivery, includes a couple beats changes to mix up the presentation.

Out of twelve songs I’d go back to maybe half of em to re-listen to, the other half are forgettable. The last Slayer album I thought was strong front to back was “Christ Illusion”, maybe minus two tunes, before that “Divine Intervention” was damn good, and the first five are just classics.

 
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