Slayer are legendary in their own right. They’ve weathered bans, protests, and religious criticism among many other things over their roughly 35 year history. Of the “Big Four” bands, I would say Slayer is my favorite and most influential on my tastes in music as I grew up as well as an influence for the bands that I listen to. Unfortunately, they have not been able to recover from the loss of Jeff Hanneman and departure of Dave Lombardo. While the addition of Gary Holt seemed promising, it is ominously apparent with Slayer’s twelfth studio album, Repentless, they have lost that proverbial “umph” from their music.
The burden of their decline cannot be wholly placed on those circumstances however. It seemed even before these occurrences that Slayer had been losing its edge. Chalk it up to aging (can’t blame them for that obviously) and an unwillingness to shake up their sound, but the demise of Slayer has been evident after the release 2006’s Christ Illusion. The sound is hollow on Repentless. It feels like it desperately tries to be a Slayer record, but falls quite short of the mark. It became clear when SiriusXM’s Liquid Metal played new songs from Repentless then immediately played classic Slayer tracks after them throughout the week of Repentless‘s release. While I am certain their intention at SiriusXM was to promote this new Slayer album and praise the thrash legends, it did more to trigger a sinister realization that Slayer is rapidly becoming a shell of its former self.
That’s not to say their isn’t anything good about Repentless. The “Delusions of Saviour/Repentless” opening combo boded well for the album. The video for the title track is pretty intense and violent as well. It features a number of actors known for their roles in horror films as prisoners breaking out of prison and, to put it lightly, removing the prison guards. “Pride and Prejudice” is a solid closing track also. It’s that middle part that is upsetting. “When the Stillness Comes” and “Implode”, both tracks heard prior to the release of the album, are weak to put it bluntly. There isn’t a whole lot else that stands out on the album either to make up for the weaknesses of those particular tracks or any others.
Repentless is more-or-less a Slayer album, so there will be many metal fans still flocking to listen to the album. However, it doesn’t do much for me. “Repentless” is also not a word and it has been continually tried to be passed off as the contrary. That has bothered me quite a bit throughout the promotion leading up to the release of the album and during the writing of this review. The album is out now through Nuclear Blast and Slayer are doing some scattered tour dates throughout the United States and the rest of the world.