Does Slayer really need an introduction? All right then... It's been six years since we had a piece of material from these old fellas which is quite a gab, and a lot of shit happened since 2009. New label, new members, new production team and the loss of Jeff.
Repentless starts off pretty strong with the title-track being introduced by the instrumental "Delusions of Saviour". While the intro track, just like 95% of other intro tracks, could've been used for a mid-section is a bit redundant, I must admit that I enjoy the title-track, "Repentless". Bostaph thrusts a lot of life into the track with his all around solid and tight performance. But after that, there's a wide gap until something worthwhile comes along.
"When the Stillness Comes" was very quickly compared to "South of Heaven" and therefore labeled as a major throwback. However this track does not make it into the highlights spot. It never really takes off properly and seems unfinished. But I will give them credit for bringing some variation into the album. Slayer already did a track reminiscent of "South of Heaven" in 1994 with "213" which I think is a better track.
We're also treated with some recycling in the likes of "Atrocity Vendor". It was originally recorded during the World Painted Blood sessions and released on a single the year after. There's not much change from the original version. Still corny and forgettable. "Implode" is probably one of the worst tracks off the album and it was definitely not a wise decision for this to be the first track to be heard from the album back when it was announced. Forgettable. That's the word I have to use again and again. It's not until the second last track, "You Against You" that we get something that's worth coming back for. Just as the title-track it mixes some good riffing with skank-beats and just good songwriting. Of course, this does not rank among the band's best offerings, but it's solid, and a relief on this record. It's really hard not to shout along when Tom yells out "YOU AGAINST YOU!"
Behind the knobs is Terry Date, who has produced a lot of albums which I love, not only because the songwriting but also the production. He does a good job on this album. I am pretty sure he had some restrictions, because the albums sounds like you would expect. Just like a Slayer record in 2015. However credit is due for the heaviness on the record. The instruments sounds have a good depth and punch to them. I do however think both Christ Illusion and World Painted Blood had more character in its productions, especially when it comes to the guitars. But it wouldn't had made any sense to go down the same road once more.
To the touchy subject, the line-up. This is the first album without Jeff and once again Dave is out of the band. A lot of fans have said that it's not Slayer without Lombardo and continue to do so. And as an almost lifelong Slayer fan I would like to say that it is total fucking bullshit. Bostaph is a really good drummer and if anyone shines on Repentless, it's definitely him. People seem to forget the past he has with Forbidden, featuring on two of the best thrash albums to come out of the bay area. Whether Dave or Paul plays on this record doesn't change the fact of who's at the helm of this ship. Would the album have been better if Jeff was alive? Maybe and maybe not. God Hates Us All and Diabolus in Musica are still pretty bad, and don't take that the wrong way, I still grief Jeff's death. Would it have been better if Gary Holt contributed? Maybe and maybe not. Blood in Blood Out was definitely not the return everybody had hoped for. But I hope to see him contribute in the future, because Slayer won't stop until both King and Araya are in the nursing home.
So throw your goddamn "everything but the original line-up is not Slayer"-goggles. I witnessed this line-up perform at Wacken 2014, which is on the deluxe edition, and it is a fucking power demonstration. As Gary Holt said, he is not some new kid, or a groove metal-dude. He's a veteran. And so is Bostaph.
I only find two tracks worthy of coming back to on this record. The title-track, "Repentless" and "You Against You". Would I mind hearing these tracks live? No... Would I mind hearing something from Christ Illusion or World Painted Blood live? No... But I sure as hell would prefer a set-list only with excerpts from the first six studio releases and hear the classics. At least it has a pretty face. The cover for this album is without a doubt the best since Reign in Blood.
If I were to place it on the list, I would place it under the last two albums, but it's definitely a better record than both God Hates Us All and Diabolus in Musica. But, what you see is what you get. More of the same. For some, that is fine and is going to cut it perfectly, and I'd wish I was on the same wagon. But I'm not.
R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman, 1964-2013.