Slayer’s Repentless (2015): The epitome of a contemporary thrash metal album

Yes, I know. I’m a bit late to the party with this review, but I wanted to listen to Repentless a gazillion times before laying down my opinion. Slayer’s 11th studio album, Repentless, was released on September 11, 2015, and is the first record after the death of founding member and guitarist Jeff Hannemann, and it is the band’s first record published with Nuclear Blast.

It was obvious that there would be an insane amount of reviews of this album even before its release. And, of course, I read basically every review that crossed my way. Many critics claim that Slayer will never be the same without Jeff Hannemann, who was a great contributor to the band’s music, and the same has been said about founding member and former drummer Dave Lombardo. Personally, I was never a ‘real’ Slayer fan per se, but have enjoyed their music as a teenage metalhead since Seasons in the Abyss came out in 1990. Furthermore, I have had the pleasure to experience the band live on a few occasions over the years – and always enjoyed Slayer’s show. However, I was kind of emotionless when I first heard that there will be a new Slayer album this year.

Nevertheless, listening to teasers of the new songs, and reading and watching interviews with Kerry King and Tom Araya recounting the experiences that led to the birth of Repentless, intrigued me. I started listening back to the entire Slayer catalogue, watched old concert footage, and read old interviews. And then, when I finally held the Repentless CD in my hands, it was captivating. I had to listen to it over and over again. I was sold. The band’s new album is a contemporary thrash metal production that portrays a music style that reminds metal aficionados of the heyday of metal. It is also great to hear how Gary Holt was able to step into Jeff Hannemann boots on guitar and step up to the challenge of the typical Slayer double-guitar attack arrangements. In addition, Paul Bostaph came back to prove the entire metal scene that he is a valid replacement for Dave Lombardo.

Slayer’s Repentless is what I consider the epitome of a contemporary thrash metal album in 2015. The album comprises instant classics such as the title track, Chasing Death, and You Against You. I can imagine that some of the songs on this album will become metal anthems in the not too distant future. The band stays true to its roots, but the music and its production sounds contemporary. No wonder the album was the #2-best selling album in the world shortly after its release (week 39/2015), according to United World Chart; and that results in Slayer’s biggest global chart success to date.

If you’re a metalhead that enjoys a handmade and aggressive thrash metal album with clever lyrics and smart arrangements, Slayer’s Repentless is a must-have. I’ll definitely go see them live when they come to my city, because – in the words of legendary Death Angel singer Mark Osegueda – ‘this kind of music is best enjoyed live.’

***

Repentless is actually the band’s most unapologetically thrash album in years.
Jeremy Ulrey, metal injection.net

We find our inner beasts in the riffs and the drums and the primal screams and the thrash itself, even if it’s just for 40 minutes at a time. Here, we can let loose with little intention to apologize.
Sean Barry, consequenceofsound.net

Still the masters of this stuff, Slayer have honoured a fallen comrade in the best possible way.
Dom Lawson, theguardian.com

***


Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer