5. Slayer – Repentless
Must hear track: “Repentless”, vintage Slayer that relentlessly (and apparently repentlessly) showed the new kids how this thrash game was to be played.
Slayer’s 12th album – and first without the sadly departed Jeff Hannman – was never going to be taken on its own merits. The shadow of thrash classics Hell Awaits, Reign In Blood and Seasons In The Abyss loomed too large and with 50% of the classic line-up now gone (we certainly don’t see Dave Lombardo returning to the kit anytime soon) all eyes were on Kerry King and Tom Araya to deliver something special.
As it turned out, anyone who doubted if Slayer circa 2015 was even Slayer anymore were forced to eat their words as Repentless relentlessly thrashed you back to the 80’s! Sure, this is not a record to match the genre-defining Hell Awaits or Reign In Blood but it more than matches anything released post Divine Intervention and that is a reason to celebrate in itself.
As for the new boys, Exodus mainman Gary Holt pulls double duties and seems to have seamlessly immersed himself into Slayer’s world – it’s almost impossible to think of anyone other than Holt who could have filled the cavernous shoes of Jeff Hanneman – and new/old drummer Paul Bostaph has seen it all before; his credibility never in doubt.
As for the songs, they were prime Slayer. “Implode” does the exact opposite, exploding into life while the title-track proves that time has not dulled Slayer’s attack. Every facet that combines to make Slayer such an institution is present and the Hanneman penned “Piano Wire” – which has that unnerving Slayer sound we’ve all experienced before on the chill-inducing likes of “Dead Skin Mask” and “213” – keeps one foot safely in their prestigious past.
All told, Repentless was a huge relief, a solid Slayer album released after some truly dark times for this all-time classic thrash band. Their relevance to the scene remains unquestionable.