Repentless finds Slayer at a crossroads. The passing of guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who also contributed heavily to the band’s songwriting process, meant Kerry King took on the lion’s share of the writing of this album. There was also a drummer change, with Paul Bostaph returning to the fold once again, replacing Dave Lombardo.

The band has channeled all the emotions and turmoil they have been through the past few years into the album, a potent release that is undeniably Slayer -- and that’s apparent from the beginning to the end of Repentless.

“Delusions of Saviour” kicks off the proceedings, a slow building instrumental that sets the stage for the title track, an angry song driven by galloping riffs from King and Gary Holt. The Exodus guitarist has been playing live with the band for a few years now, and fits in seamlessly. He’s a pro’s pro, and one of thrash’s best axemen.

Slayer aren’t reinventing the wheel, and you know what to expect, but the execution is flawless. From groove-infused tracks like “Take Control” to more bludgeoning songs such as “Atrocity Vendor,” they are a well-oiled machine.

Tom Araya’s vocals range from sing-song melodies to aggressive barks, and on Repentless he utilizes the aggressive style more than the melodic style. On “When The Stillness Comes,” as close as Slayer comes to a ballad, he effectively uses both styles.

The album contains one Hanneman-written song, “Piano Wire,” which has ominous riffs, prominent drums by Bostaph and a searing guitar solo. The penultimate track “You Against Me” is old-school thrashtastic: simple, direct and memorable.

At 42 minutes, Repentless is actually Slayer’s longest album since 2001‘s God Hates Us All, but it has the typical Slayer streamlined feel. After a six-year gap between albums and the personnel changes, there were some questions about the band’s relevance, which are completely unfounded. Lyrics from the title track sum up the band and the album nicely: “No looking back, no regrets, no apologies / What you get is what you see.”

Slayer's 'Repentless' album is available in multiple formats at the Nuclear Blast online store.

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