Repentless review by Slayer

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Sep 11, 2015
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.7 Neat
  • Users' score: 5.4 (80 votes)
Slayer: Repentless
0

Sound — 7
Slayer formed in 1981, as Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King met each other and realized they enjoyed jamming and writing together, and formed the band. Shortly thereafter, Tom Araya joined on bass and vocals and Dave Lombardo joined on drums. It's been a few years since then, however, and we've seen some lineup changes. Jeff Hanneman, historically a large part of the creative force behind the band, died in 2013 related to liver failure. Dave Lombardo was fired from the band in 2013, as well, and has been replaced by his sometime-replacement from previous times he has left the band, Paul Bostaph. Gary Holt (Exodus) has joined the band to fill the spot previously held by Jeff Hanneman, on guitar. "Repentless" is the band's twelfth studio album, and will be the first featuring Gary Holt on guitars. The band has released 5 singles from the album prior to the release - "Implode" was released as the lead single in April 2014, "When the Stillness Comes" was released in April 2015, the title track, "Repentless" was released in June 2015, "Cast the First Stone" was released in late August, and "You Against You" was released on September 4th. There are 12 tracks on the complete album, with a runtime of approximately 41 minutes.

"Delusions of Saviour" is a little instrumental intro, just short of two minutes, some quick audio foreplay before the album begins in earnest. "Repentless," like a lot of the tracks on the album, has a strong hardcore punk vibe in a way that the other "Big 4" didn't really keep over time. The song is essentially Kerry King's proclamation that he doesn't care what people think, he's gonna do what he does until he dies. "Take Control" is largely tremolo picking on guitar, with some repetitive drumming - the solo breaks it up a little bit. "Vices" is a pummeling track, with lyrics typical to Slayer's catalog, and essentially talking about beliefs being used as a vice, just like drug addicts use drugs as vices. "Cast the First Stone" is one of my favorite tracks, with a truly aggressive feeling to it, but maintaining a strong groove, as well. "When the Stillness Comes" has a wicked intro, and is musically epic - easily my favorite track on the album, but the lyrics are just so-so (though the actual vocal performance is possibly one of the better on the album). "Chasing Death" has a pretty strong early thrash vibe going on, and it has Paul Bostaph showing off with his double bass pedal blast beats. "Implode" is essentially a hardcore punk song with thrash tendencies - originally released over a year ago, the version on the album is a new, re-recorded version of the song. "Piano Wire" is a song that originally was being written by Jeff Hanneman while he was still alive, though it was never finished. Tom Araya had previously spoke in interviews about working with Jeff Hanneman before his death, on lyrics and vocals for this track. Kerry King has stated in interviews, that though Jeff had some rhythm guitar recorded for this song before his death, he recorded his own rhythm part instead, and so Jeff Hanneman is not featured on the album at all. This definitely has some of the craziest soloing on the album, however - very possibly this is one of the tracks where Gary Holt provided lead guitar. "Atrocity Vendor" was originally released as a B-side to a single from the last album's title track, "World Painted Blood," but was re-recorded with new vocals and a longer guitar solo for "Repentless." "You Against You" is another track where it really goes to show that Slayer is the only band in "The Big 4" that really kept the hardcore punk thrash influences in their sound. "Pride in Prejudice" was described by Kerry King in interviews as "super-Black Sabbath heavy." It definitely has some of that slower heavy riffing that I associate with stoner metal and Black Sabbath. It is a nice track to close out the album as it brings the energy back down a little bit, like it lets you relax as the album is ending.

Lyrics — 6
Tom Araya just sounds a certain type of way with his vocals. I don't love it, and I don't hate it - usually. There are times, occasionally, where I do each of those things. With tracks like "When the Stillness Comes," it has Araya really showing what he can do from a vocal standpoint, and shows him to be a solid metal vocalist. On the other hand, on many other tracks it sounds like he's just screaming out words written down on paper without putting a lot of thought or emotion into it. I've had two main roadblocks into being a huge Slayer fan, and one of the biggest is Araya's inconsistent vocals, and the other being Kerry's belligerent and vocal personality. That brings me to the lyrics portion, here, and as far as it goes, the lyrics are pretty much standard fare for Slayer - they are "outsider" lyrics with a healthy dose of rage - I'm not against that, I actually identify pretty strongly with that type of lyric, but often times it isn't carried off very well. As a sample of the lyrics, here is an excerpt from the track, "When the Stillness Comes": "Blood looks like paste on the wall/ Bodies lay lifeless like dolls/ A moment that felt like days/ Lives extinct with inner rage/ Incessantly making up lies/ In a moment of visceral hate/ The last thing you see on my grave/ Eyes/ The last thing you'll see are my eyes."

Overall Impression — 7
First, let me say that this album absolutely sounds like a Slayer album. This won't be a "standout" album in their catalog, but there are a few tracks worth keeping around. I do notice that only one of the tracks I liked is actually a single - which is interesting since nearly half the album has been released as a single. My favorite tracks from the album would be "When the Stillness Comes," "Delusions of Saviour," and "Cast the First Stone." Now, I just have to see if I'm going to be able to continue to overlook Kerry's belligerent statements to the media or anyone else who'll listen, and just sit back and enjoy the album.

55 comments sorted by best / new / date

    RosetaStoned351
    Not Great, but definitely good. It's worthy of at least a 7.3 - All this Slayer hate is getting ridiculous.
    Abacus11
    I agree, not a classic Slayer album but solid. It's "cool" to hate on Slayer these days, even this review mentions Kerry King's "belligerent and vocal personality".
    Sebo
    Very mixed reaction here. Best things first. Bostaph has upped his game. I'm not a drummer, but I always liked how Dave played, and thought Paul could never catch up. With that record he proved me wrong in my opinion. Repentless itself is a killer track, love the attitude, speed, lyrics everything. Except the riffs. And this is where the bad part starts. The chords played on that song are a joke and a filler. Slayer had driving, gallopping, riffs that crawled down your spine. With a punkyness that made you wanna shake your whole body (Tormentor is such a piece for me). This chords are just meh. Straight riffing that gets me nowhere. Same for the intro riff. Is it just me, or wtf was Kerry thinking? Without the effects the riff would be sooo boring, and yet it's used for like 2 minutes ? Don't get me wrong, his licks are sometimes killer, take control is a perfect example. But the intro riff is uninspired at best. And some of the riffs are also, the ones that are decent sound like I heard them. From Slayer. Altogether decent album, and surely a good effort, but this is Slayer ripping itself off. tl;dr Paul is suprising me. Kerry can't write chordy riffs. Jeffs input in riffing and lyrics is sadly missed. This could've been done by Gary, if Kerry wouldn't be so stubborn. Altogether the album has some killer riffs, but is overall stall and missing that special something. Jeff.
    CrazyWombat
    Maybe an actual title for this album should be "Repeatless" - a lot of self-repetition and re-re-recycling of their previous recordings. Plus so sad, but Tom Araya's voice is really weak now... (even not mentioning Kerry King's riffs)
    PuckMugger
    Then is should be repeatful or something, repeatless would mean they are not capable of repeating.
    zalant
    Maybe 'repeatless' could be a word like 'wreckless', where it means that the first part of the word is actually what you're going to get.
    RosetaStoned351
    In what way is Tom Araya's voice weak, he sounds almost exactly like he did World Painted Blood.
    Sebo
    Have to agree. Live is a completely different thing, but on the record there is not much difference to WPB
    franciscanv
    Gonna save people time reading the review here: It's a Slayer record, you know what it will sound like.
    Iommianity
    I thought this album was a joke. I wasn't expecting much, but the lyrics are flat out hilarious, and Kerry will just never get over writing block headed shit. Look at the songwriting credits for the vast majority of their music and you'll see what's missing. I wasn't crazy about World Painted Blood, but Jeff's ideas were spooky and his songs more dynamic and riffy. Kerry only has two modes, slow midpaced stuff or ripping off his own riffs, with "fucking" thrown all over the lyrics. It's fine for Slayer not to change, but if you're not going to change it's unacceptable to put out music that isn't at least as good as what's come before. Hell it should be better. It's like ordering a progressively shittier tasting hamburger and being happy with it because it's still not as bad as it could be.
    howyjr
    I've loved Slayer and, after six years, I was expecting a little more than this. There's nearly always at least something about a Slayer record that makes it stand out from previous efforts, but this is just uninspired schlock. You can tell that Kerry is playing all the rhythm parts, yet the dichotomy of two guitars with two different tones (where's Gary) is what helped make Slayer albums unique. That being said, there are a few tasty riffs littered throughout, but none really build to any climax or evoke excitement from the listener. I'm pretty sure it's not just Tom's voice, but goddamn are those vocals recorded terribly. I entered the album with medium hopes. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed and I'm left disappointed. "Implode" remains the highlight for me, and that's been out well over a year. I don't want them to split. Here's hoping the next album is better and more timely
    Abacus11
    Just a point here - Jeff Hanneman hadn't recorded rhythm guitar on a Slayer record since Seasons In the Abyss . Nothing but his own leads in the last 25 years. It makes all of the "you can tell Jeff's rhythm playing is missing" arguments invalid. That said, as a Slayer fan for nearly 3 decades, Repentless isn't their best but it's a good record and it has it's moments.
    vppark2
    You Against You is pretty sick, but not much else sticks out IMO. Side note: wow, some of you get up real early to get on UG lol
    howyjr
    Or they live in a different time-zone than where UG are based perhaps.
    haifisch234
    Only 3-4 songs have some interesting riffs or whatever. Implode, which was bashed by most of the fans, turned out to be the best song on the album. Overall the album is boring and weak. Probably one the worst if not the worst in the whole discography.
    travislausch
    I've only heard the title track and "When The Stillness Comes" so far and, well, I'm not an expert on Slayer, I don't really consider myself a "fan" per se, since I've only really absorbed Reign In Blood , but this still sounds like proper Slayer to me. Coming at it from the opinion of a person who's not necessarily a Slayer "connoiseur", I can't find anything to fault about the songs I've heard.
    Kraith
    Objectively it`s decent effort, not any thrash band can write such album. Subjectively - just one more album, written to remind that Slayer is still around.
    HardAttack
    I haven't been paying that close of attention to this group lately so I can't pre-judge the album. That being said, since the UG reviewer pointed out that half of the album has been released as singles; that to me is clearly the sign of a band that probably knows nothing on the album is special; and they're just throwing everything at the wall to see if anything sticks.
    Blitzkriegslap
    I think fuck everybody nit picking every thing and listen you might like it ..I Love the new album thank's Slayer
    pressureproject
    "I just have to see if I'm going to be able to continue to overlook Kerry's belligerent statements to the media or anyone else who'll listen, and just sit back and enjoy the album." That'll get you kicked off a jury, and just maybe should've disqualified you from making a truly unbiased review.
    joshisawesome12
    I never was a fan of Slayer, but I will say, after listening to this, it wasn't bad. I do not, however, like Kerry King's attitude about Jeff during the whole deal. Re-recording already recorded rhythm guitar parts is a little bit of a d*** move on his part, but it was his move. The album is a solid 7 for me.
    Abacus11
    Jeff only recorded rhythm guitar for the demo that he made. Jeff hadn't played rhythm guitar on a Slayer record since Seasons . King has recorded EVERY rhythm track on every Slayer album since Divine Intervention and Jeff recorded his own solos (much like Holt did on Repentless ).
    Sixxstarr
    The title track literally sounds like something a shitty thrash band, trying to sound like slayer, would put out.
    sborchel
    It's so funny to see that old man with the high pitched voice yell these morbid lyrics with no emotion.
    starfire666
    anyone bitching about the new Slayer album should listen to this year's Metallica record... oh wait...
    mikev276
    I like Bostaph but It's too machine like with him,he is better in Testament but so is Lombardo on The Gathering. I don't know why they put Atrocity Vendor on this album when it was already on World Painted Blood with Lombardo playing on it, seems like a slap in the face to me. If World Painted Blood had Terry Date producing it,it would be way better than it is, It sucks that the 2 albums that Lombardo was on since he came back the production has sucked but the songs are still better than Repentless, its missing the aggression and the dark songs like Beauty Through order and Playing With Dolls. The tempo on this album isn't as fast as WPB. I would of liked to heard the album with Lombardo since most of the songs were written when he was still in the band.
    Fatewhip
    So... Where's UG's own Kerry King? Or the guy who said "Bellend" in every single comment? Or even the guy who never stopped talking about Pringles? Man, UG has gone downhill. All that's funny anymore is when Baby Joel says something, gets down voted into oblivion, then someone else says the same thing and gets top comment.
    HardAttack
    That stopped happening a couple of months ago, if not more. Check back more often.
    Peres.T.Peanut
    The album isn't as bad as you're making it out to be (not much better, though), unless you take their legacy into consideration. If you don't look at it as a Slayer album, it can be quite enjoyable, if you're hoping for another Reign in Blood, well...not gonna happen, mate.
    Sixxstarr
    I'm looking for something that isn't them trying to sound like Reign in Blood.
    redgravegilver
    Not really a huge Slayer fan. I like Reign in Blood, South of Heaven and Season of the Abyss and that's it. But I think this album has moments especially the first half.
    eltrav71
    I wanted to HATE this album as i lost interest in Slayer after South of Heaven, and i've never liked Kerry King and his attitude...but this album is a fu%king Thrash Metal gem and sure to be a classic in 20 years when Slayer are long gone and music lovers look back at their catalogue. It's there best album since Season's and i actually like it so much (King did an awesome job of writing classic Slayer here) i will say its my number #4 after RIB, SOH and HA...here in 2015/16 Slayer continue to prove they haven't yet lost that spark (even with the passing of Jeff) which Metallica and other bands of the 80's era lost well over 20 years ago and continue to embarrass the name they forged for themselves previously.
    Tobguitar
    It's not their best work, but I think there are some great songs on it. In my opinion it's much better than most Slayer albums after Seasons in the abyss expect for God hates us all. I love the original Slayer line up, but I think it was pretty much done. Slayer needed a change....
    madmike2982
    I don't know why, but listening to the first two songs makes me want to listen to Meshuggah.