By Dr. Abner Mality

Regardless of what anyone says, “Repentless” will sell a boatload of copies. The band is essentially critic proof at this point. Yet they have undergone drastic personnel changes as a result of Jeff Hanneman’s tragic death and the controversial departure of drummer Dave Lombardo. Exodus’ Gary Holt has taken over Hanneman’s spot and Paul Bostaph has returned as drummer.

With these changes and also a move to the Nuclear Blast label, Slayer was in prime position to stretch themselves. “Repentless” finds them about as flexible as a 90 year old paraplegic. In an attempt to show they are “still Slayer”, they have released an album that is very angry…and very safe. The record has speed and spite, but is just so generic. When “South of Heaven” first came out, many were surprised by the band’s experimenting with their sound. That willingness to stretch gave them new life. On “Repentless”, the experimentation is not only absent but the songwriting is frozen stiffly into place.

There is good news. This album has a much meatier production than “World Painted Blood”, which was extremely dry and basic. The guitar really growls here and the bass is thumping. Then, I have to say Paul Bostaph has delivered the best Slayer record of his career. His drumming is ripping and electric, even if the songs themselves are not pushing boundaries. He exceeded my expectations on “Repentless”.

I noted on my review of “World Painted Blood” that Slayer was basically starting to rewrite their old tunes and that is even more obvious here. Everything sounds like a tweaking of an old Slayer tune. The raw anger and speed on the title track, “Piano Wire” and “You Against You” lifts those tunes to a level I can enjoy. Sometimes you just want to kill and these songs are fine for that. On the opposite end, tracks like “When The Stillness Comes” and “Implode” are so generic they leave no impression at all. This is Slayer on complete autopilot…safe and predictable. There are bits of the other songs that make an impression…the thunderous opening of “Pride In Prejudice”,  the cool oldschool riffs that start off “Atrocity Vendor”…but they eventually lapse into very familiar patterns.

A lot of veteran headbangers have contempt for the more recent Slayer output. I would not go that far, but on “Repentless” it’s pretty clear they are content to trudge a well worn road.