re·pent-less adverb: the opposite of that shit.
Deals with the Devil are as much a part of Rock-lore as sex and drugs. I was seven when I first heard KISS. Since then I’ve purchased every record they released. I was 19 when I first discovered Slayer. Since then I’ve purchased every record they released. I’m 44. That’s the real deal with the Devil.
There are bands that no matter what age. What marital status. What tax bracket. I am required to buy any new music they release. Call it the Motley Factor. (Or the BHS [Billy Hardaway Syndrome]). Regardless of how I felt about the last one or any other mitigating factors such as lack of original members. And for guys like me living in this Age of Apathy just finding a store who sells new releases while also having the inclination to unpack them on release day, is no easy task. Despite that obstacle Slayer will always be one of those bands for me. They are a top five band. Now to be fair there are at least ten bands in my top five but Slayer is one of them. I mention all of this because as a Slayer guy I am a Hanneman/Lombardo/Araya guy. Nothing against Kerry King but he seems to dislike my favorite Slayer songs and champion my least. At the same time going out of his way to minimize anything not ‘Kerry King’. So after the passing of Jeff Hannenman when I heard they may carry on my initial reaction was ‘why bother?’ And when they kicked Dave Lombardo out it only cemented my belief that I wouldn’t even make an effort to hear a new record. But the closer it came to reality the more I realized I had a deal. A deal with the devil. I must hear this record.
Slayer is one of the worlds necessities. Like Tree’s and Chipotle’ we need Slayer. Because of Slayer (and Satan) June 6th, 2006 will remain a special day for all of us. But I am quite unforgiving when it comes to my bands. When a band has to deal with the death of a key member the reasons to pack it in are often equal to the reasons to carry on. I don’t begrudge Slayer for continuing. I just don’t know it will work. Playing live is one thing. New music is another. Let us not forget the first Slayer record Paul Bostaph played on was their worst. Would that be the result here?
So here’s the thing. This record is great. Possibly their best since Seasons In The Abyss. I do miss Lombardo’s drumming but not enough to dismiss the contributions of Gary Holt. The opening song “Delusions Of Saviour” is really just an unoriginal attempt at some sort of onimous bridge to the real start of the record. Almost a cheap stab at recreating the beginning of “South Of Heaven”. After that you might as well have the volume on your car stereo maxed. Rolling down your windows to share with everyone.
The title track is pure thrash. So pure you can smell Tom Araya‘s beard. The next song “Take Control” fits in so seemless you might mistake it for a pair of Kerry King‘s spanks. And to go from that to “Vices”? Brutal. This record is the closest Slayer has come to 1990 Slayer since 1990. The next song “Cast The First Stone” instantly becomes my new favorite off the record.
I really want to hear it louder. I need to hear it louder. TO THE BASEMENT! “Chasing Death”, “Implode”. I am happy to say, this is classic Slayer. I can only assume Kerry King will eventually hate it as I love it. There is even a lyrical homage to the record God Hates Us All in the track “Implode” as we hear the romantic baritone of Tom Araya scream “I’m pretty sure that God still hates us allllllllllll”.
“Piano Wire” has a writing credit to Jeff Hanneman. Kerry King went out of his way to make sure we all know Jeff didn’t play on this recording of his song. Which seemed petty. That said “Piano Wire” may be my least favorite song. Lending to the bizarro factor. “You Against You” may be the most original song Slayer has done since “Gemini”. Which is good because it’s awesome. The record ends with a song called “Pride In Prejudice”. While trying, it’s no “Seasons”.
Do you like Slayer? Do you like playing agressive music with the windows down with your middle finger rising above your car? Does the phrase ‘Hail Satan’ while cranking thrash make you happy? If so buy this record. You know where I will be September 11th 2015. Searching for a store selling it.
It’s fitting really that they named the album Repentless. Many will say with no Hanneman. No Lombardo. No point in calling yourselves Slayer. While Bostaph does well to mitigate the absence of Lombardo it’s Gary Holt that is a surprising fit. If for nothing else he gives Tom some real in band competition in the grossest beard contest. It’s more than likely many things but in my mind the title is a big FU to those who question the band for continuing without Hanneman and Lombardo as they are Repentless in doing so. And good for them if so. If anything this record reminded me how much the world needs Slayer. And me driving around yelling ‘SLAYERRRR’ at the top of my lungs.
A possibly sensitive piece of trivia. The last time Slayer released a record on 9-11 it was for God Hates Us All on the day we all remember the date for.
Buy this record. Go to the front page and click the Amazon link when doing so.