Slayer – Repentless
Repentless is a Slayer album. People who know the band know what I’m talking about. It’s a lot like when Bad Religion put out New Maps Of Hell. You knew exactly what you’d be getting going into it and you weren’t disappointed. With Repentless that means that particular Slayer death metal sound: machine gun drums, rapid-fire riffs, and Tom Araya’s hateful bark punctuating everything. The difference is that there’s no Jeff Hanneman, who died in 2013 of cirhossis of the liver. There’s also no Dave Lombardo, who was fired three months before Hanneman’s death, reputedly as the result of a disagreement with the band’s pay structure. Hannemen was one of the band’s principle songwriters, and Lombardo gave the band their signature drum sound. If there is any justice in this world, Repentless will be Slayer’s last album, and that’s okay.
Araya and guitarist Kerry King (and, I guess, the bassist) make a good stab at a classic Slayer album, and for the most part they hit the right notes. Gary Holt plays well on the drums but can’t match Lombardo’s infernally inspired pummeling. King tries to substitute more modern squeal-noise for Hanneman’s nimble-fingered solos, but it was the breaking free of those solos that made classic Slayer songs such headbanging masterpieces. This is Slayer, limping and bleeding but still possessed of a hideous vitality, a rotting half-life still capable of terrorizing but not for much longer.