Slayer have released their 12th studio album Repentless and they did so on September 11th, the anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. That date is also significant because the ‘God Hates Us All’ album actually came out on September 11, 2001 – the very same day as the awful tragedy. Slayer choosing that date once again was an interesting decision but that’s Slayer being Slayer and you can’t tell Slayer what to do can you?
‘Repentless’ is the first Slayer release since the passing of guitarist Jeff Hanneman. That dude was such a massive part of the band and I hate to be the guy to say the group just isn’t the same without him but…. Slayer just isn’t the same without Jeff – that dude could write a thrash metal song for the ages. In his absence much of those writing duties were passed on to Kerry King (who oddly enough wrote most of ‘God Hates Us All’, the last album to be released on 9/11). Gary Holt from Exodus fills in on actual rhythym guitar duties in Hanneman’s absence and he sounds legit but it’s Jeff’s songwriting that I’m missing here.
King’s lyrics are super pissed off but have you seen Kerry King? That dude is straight off the set of Sons of Anarchy. Hell — if he reads this interview he’d probably bitchslap me and I’d have no choice but to accept it and cradle into the fetal position and pray he forgives me one day.
The lead single and title track is ferocious. Vintage Slayer. It’s hard to talk shit about Slayer because they’re the only band on the planet where more people scream their name at other random concerts than at actual Slayer shows. I will tell you right now that this album, in fear of my life, was not all that memorable to me and I’ve given it plenty of listens over the weekend to let it sink in. ‘When The Stillness Comes’ is by far my favorite cut because the pace is different than the rest of the breakneck speed on ‘Repentless’. It really stood out to me.
I like my thrash metal layered and epic but Slayer tend to go for the jugular and they went for it hard here. ‘Repentless’ is fast, angry and directly to the point just the way King wanted it to be. That frightening man has done what he set out to do, which was apparently “prove the haters wrong”. I was never a hater but I think in his quest he wound up making a fan such a myself simply satisfied and not much more. I miss Hanneman. I really do.