Friday, September 11, 2015

Slayer - Repentless (Released 9/11/2015)

Slayer hit us with Repentless today, the first album the band has released since Jeff Hanneman passed away.  The impossible task of stepping in for Hanneman falls upon Gary Holt of Exodus.  Holt is a quality guitarist and he works hard to fill a significant void, though his efforts are somewhat diminished by Kerry King taking on a larger role.  For the most part, King actually plays it straight, but there are enough "Hey, look at me!" solos around to drag the proceedings down at times.  Paul Bostaph fills in nicely for Dave Lombardo on drums; there can be no doubt that he fits this band just as well as Lombardo, though I still give Dave a slight edge in ability and a bigger edge in finesse.  Tom Araya does a fine job with the vocals and bass, but that should come as no surprise.  It's a good album, much better than much of what's out there right now.  How does it stack up alongside Slayer's best recordings?  Come on, man.  Still, an average Slayer album trumps a top-shelf disc from the vast majority of acts playing the heavy metal scene in 2015.  I contemplated giving this album a "C+" but it occurred to me that I wasn't being very fair.  This would get no less than a "B" if it was released by most bands in the same vein, and there are several big name entities out there that have never produced something as worthwhile as Repentless.  The opening track, an instrumental entitled "Delusions of Saviour," is perhaps my favorite cut, though it seems like it should exist as the intro for the title track.  Speaking of the title track, the song is cool but the "Repentless" video is totally gnarly.  Slayer + Danny Trejo + a grisly prison riot = 1 extremely metal music video.  Other standout tracks include "Piano Wire," the punk-esque thrashfest that is "You Against You," "Vices," and "Pride in Prejudice."  I don't think that any of these offerings stack up well against any of Slayer's best cuts, but none of the songs on Repentless fall flat.  In the end, I am enjoying this one, even if it will never be confused with one of this legendary metal band's greatest albums.  It's still Slayer, even if things look and sound a little different, and Slayer still raises hell better than anyone.

Final Grade: B-

Slayer's new line-up delivers a solid album that is head and shoulders above
most of what's out there right now, though it is surely a far cry from their best stuff.

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