Written by Dylan Brandsema
“No looking back
What you get is what you see”
Those are some of the the lyrics contained in title track of Slayer long-awaited Repentless, and it’s not a stretch to think their likely very personal for everyone in the band. To say this album is ’s most anticipated is understatement – the tragic and unfortunate death of Jeff Hanneman left legions of fans wondering if the band would even be able to continue, and the departure once again of drummer Dave Lombardo didn’t do anything to help hopes going into this album’s production. Nevertheless, they managed to pull through, after years of production hell, to produce a mostly solid return with Repentless.
The album opens with a strong and catchy instrumental intro track “Delusions of Savior,” which serves as a way of preparing for the storm to come, and it does so very well. This is followed by, essentially, what would you expect from any Slayer album, with a few ups and downs along the way.
Some of the best tracks on the album are the slow, suspense-building doom-crawl “When The Stillness Comes”, the time capsule “Atrocity Vendor”, which almost sounds like an unreleased Slayer song from the 80’s with it’s punk-inspired old-school thrash riffs and straightforward, unapologetic, song arrangements, and the thundering “Vices,” perhaps the best song overall of the 12 that make up this album, with some exceptionally strong drum work from the returning Paul Bostaph, and also on the guitar fronts from both Kerry King and Gary Holt, who has taken on Jeff’s role full-time since his unfortunate passing.
The two lowest points on the album are, without question, “Chasing Death” and “Piano Wire.” “Chasing Death” is a track that tries to reach for unfamiliar, unapproachable almost-Prog arrangements, but winds up instead sounding like a blobby mess of formless thrash instrumentation. “Piano Wire,” the only song on the album written solely by Holt, starts off strong with solid riffs and lyrics, but never goes anywhere exciting, and, by its end, is a total misfire. Unfortunately for Slayer, tracks like these make Jeff Hanneman’s untimely absence abundantly clear. This is not meant, in any way, as an insult to Slayer’s songwriting, but rather an ample and cognizant realization of how critically important his musical contributions have been on Slayer’s pest efforts. If Slayer is to continue to for years and years to come without Hanneman’ brilliant musical mind, and possibly without Lombardo, as King has stated on multiple occasion that they will, the structure and overall presentation of their music and how it all flows together is going to need improvement.
The rest of the album is standard Slayer fanfare. Tracks like “You Against You”, the title track “Repentless,” “Cast The First Stone,” and the previously-released single “Implode” could easily fit in well on any other traditional Slayer record. Of course, Slayer has never been a band that tries one-up themselves with every record, but Repentless, despite its respective positives and negatives, will likely prove to be ultimately forgettable amongst Slayer’s 30+ year long discography.
Repentless isn’t exactly the pummeling assault of face-melting thrash mastery that many rabid Slayer fans might make it out to be, but it’s not a total mudslide either. It’s enjoyable and worth listening to. It’s good.
Repentless Rating: 7 out of 10
Dylan Brandsema is a staff writer for Pop-Break specializing in film and television. When he isn’t writing reviews or spending too much analyzing the medium, he’s writing and directing his own independent films as well as drinking way too much soda. Currently at full-time film major at Full Sail University, Dylan eats, sleeps, and breathes everything related to the cinema. You can follow him on Twitter @SneakyOstrich69.