This Slayer article was written by Gavin Wells, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Josh Hummerston
Over 3 decades since their formation in 1981, it’s safe to say that Slayer are one of the biggest and most influential bands in Heavy Metal history. Their signature aggressive guitar tones, lightning fast solos and drumming, alongside harsh sounding vocals have secured them a place in what is known today as the Thrash Metal ‘Big 4’, alongside fellow giants: Metallica, Megadeth & Anthrax.
Slayer’s legacy is one that will forever go down in history, but the real question is, has the band still got what it takes after 12 studio albums?
The album starts off with the instrumental intro track, “Delusions of Saviour”. This track sets the tone and theme of the album, starting off with a clean Guitar tone and gradually building up to a fast, heavy riff before leading straight into the title track, “Repentless”.
“Repentless” gives us the classic Thrashy Slayer sound that we’ve come to expect by this point, with fast drums, blisteringly fast solos to boot and vocalist Tom Araya’s trademark harsh sounding screams. Disappointingly, the tone of Araya’s vocals doesn’t really change throughout the song, and throughout the rest of the album the vocals feel a bit tired and forced at times.
It feels as though the album peaks quite early, as “Repentless” is quite easily the best song on the entire album. From that point on, there isn’t really much variation between songs, and at times it can be difficult to determine which song you are listening to as many of the main guitar riffs sound similar.
The fourth track “Vices” does offer a little bit of variation, as the main guitar riff is a bit slower than in other songs before building up to faster sections. The song also features an interesting off-beat rhythm on drums during the intro. However, the vocal line “Lets get high”, which repeats a few times throughout the song quickly gets annoying and feels undeniably bit cheesy.
At points, it feels like Slayer are playing it safe with their 12th album, as it doesn’t dare to try new ideas and instead sticks with a familiar sound throughout. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it gets a bit boring around the halfway mark, as it feels like “Repentless” doesn’t have anything more to offer.
While the guitar solos are very impressive from a technical perspective, it is difficult to tell them apart, possibly from using the same scales too often.By this point it feels like any of the guitar solos could be copied and pasted into any other song in the album, and it would go vastly unnoticed.
However, it’s in the lyrics that Slayer’s new album suffers the most. While they are known for their controversial lyrics, It sounds like they are running out of ideas, with many lines coming across as cheesy and forced. The sixth track, “When The Stillness Comes” is a prime example of this, with lines such as “Blood works like paste down the walls. Bodies lay lifeless like dolls.” and “The last thing you see are my eyes”. With this, the lyrics seem like they would be more at home in a B-list horror movie.
With ‘Repentless’, it feels Slayer are running out of steam. While there are certainly some good moments, they are overshadowed by the overall repetitiveness of each song, along with their poor lyrical content. There is plenty here to satisfy long time fans, but newcomers may want to stick to earlier releases.