FEATURE: Facing Life Without Slayer

Slayer, photo credit Gary Alcock

From the first day of December 2019, we enter a dark, horrifying new era. Life without Slayer.

Sorry. Life without SLAAAAAYYYERRR!!!

There, that’s better.

From the moment I discovered Slayer on a compilation album called Speed Kills back in 1985, my life was changed forever. Just the sound of their name was enough. Everything you needed to know about the band encapsulated in two perfect syllables, especially when screamed at an ear-splitting volume or when chanted with thousands of other like-minded blood-hungry psychopaths. Continue reading

Slayer – Lamb of God – Amon Amarth – Cannibal Corpse: Live at BB&T Pavilion

We were gathered at The BB&T Pavilion to pay respects to the life and times of the almighty Slayer. Joining us here in the congregation is Cannibal Corpse who showered us in hymns new such as ‘Red Before Black’ and old, like ‘Hammer Smashed Face’. A funeral pyre of from Amon Amarth which included ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’, ‘As Loke Falls’ as well as Raise Your Horns’. A fitting tribute.

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Slayer – Lamb Of God – Anthrax – Behemoth – Testament: Live at Mohegan Sun Arena

Go and see your heroes at least once before they are gone. I say this once a week to friends of mine. I hear all the time that “I can’t believe I missed so and so and now they are done”. For some of us, that list is long. Luckily, I have seen almost everyone on my bucket list, minus a few glaring omissions (AC/DC with Bon Scott, Queen). I’ve seen Slayer in all their iterations. Every lineup and era since 1991, which was my very first time. All of them ruled. However, when they announced their start of this farewell tour, it wasn’t a question to me if I was going or not? It was a question of how many times will I get to go? How many times will they come around? That number is up in the air as of this writing, but I am tickled that I got to go to see them at Mohegan Sun Arena in Montville, Connecticut. Thanks to my brother for life Dan Christian for hooking me up with a ticket and the great hangs. I saw a bunch of my metal brothers and sisters at the show and everyone was damn happy to be there, even if it also felt like a New Orleans funeral march at times with grave, sweaty faces. Continue reading

Slayer Premiere Episode One Of Retrospective Web Series

On January 23rd, Slayer announced that it would wrap up its 37 years together with one last tour around the globe. Before the band begins that final sojourn, Tom Araya, Kerry King, Paul Bostaph and Gary Holt sat down and talked about all things Slayer. Continue reading

Exodus Reunite With Rob Dukes, Paul Bostaph And Rick Hunolt In California

Exodus headlined two nights at The Chapel in San Francisco this past weekend, and as promised, Rob Dukes, Paul Bostaph and Rick Hunolt joined them on stage for the special performances. Continue reading

Slayer – Sadist: Live At Alcatraz, Milan

Slayer, by Lisa Schuchmann

Reactivated Italian thrashers Sadist opened the show. Hailing from Genoa, a neighboring Italian city, they received a warm welcome from the crowd. Vocalist Trevor’s cackling black metal vocals reeled in their local fans. Unlike most bands that open for Slayer, they didn’t get booed off the stage. Continue reading

Slayer – Repentless

slayer repentess album cover 2015

With the possible exception of Iron Maiden and Faith No More, no album has been more debated by fans and the critics before a note had been heard in 2015, than Slayer’s new album Repentless (Nuclear Blast). Their historical position as a leader and a lightning rod for all of heavy music has had varying consequences to their reputation over time. Nearly oblivious to change with the exception of a couple of albums, Slayer does what Slayer wants to do. Similar to AC/DC or Motörhead, if every fan everywhere and every critic bashed this album to death sight unseen, the band might hardly notice anyway.

However, listening to Repentless in full, there is an undeniable void heard on the album, one the band makes no apology or concession to, the loss of Jeff Hanneman, Jeff is not replaceable, nor have they tried to do that honestly. Recall there were entire albums where Jeff barely had any songs or solos, but he is so clearly part of the soul of this band, his licks and style coded into the very DNA of their songcraft. At the same time, this album belongs to Kerry King and Tom Araya to the fullest, and they totally own it like their life depends on it. The future of Slayer’s career surely does.

Opening with the sinister intro track ‘Delusions of Saviour,’ I look forward to hearing many a future concert begin with this gem. The title track comes next and it is fiery in tempo and anger. It is definitely off to an inspiring start. ‘Take Control,’ another recent single is a little more straight-ahead thrash, though it has all the familiar bells and whistles you want from them. Araya sounds as frightening and strong as ever vocally. His delivery makes up a lot of the strength of this album.

Slayer, photo by Andrew Stuart

Slayer, photo by Andrew Stuart

‘Vices’ is a terrific, groovy track and reminds me a lot of Paul Bostaph’s work on Divine Intervention (American). Paul’s return is a solid one. He has a few highlights and the outro of the track is one of them. The dueling harmonized guitars and solo parts bear the proper Slayer mark. ‘Cast the First Stone’ and ‘When The Stillness Comes’ also makes up some of the meat of familiar part of the album. ‘…Stillness’ has the Seasons In The Abyss (Def American) vibe that will drive some purists away, while others will love it. I fall into the latter category.

 

‘Chasing Death’ has them treading on some Exodus or even Pantera territory jamming out on the power grooves they pioneered. Another killer delivery from Tom sells this badass tune. ‘Implode’ was to my ears, the least impressive track and repeat listens didn’t make it grow on me. ‘Implode’ is one of the few tracks where it does seem to lack some of the old (Black) magic of the band. ‘Piano Wire’ is lone Hanneman composition on the album and it is definitely one of the best. I’d like to think Jeff would approve. ‘Atrocity Vendor’, at least in its first few measures sounds like it could have come off of ‘Haunting The Chapel’. That intro is so old-school, it might shock you. Kudos for doing something more akin to something Overkill or Anthrax would try. More great lyrics on this track and some more killer lead work as well.

‘You Against You’ is a nod to more recent albums from the band. The mid-tempo seems to be where this album lives mostly, so when it kicks into overdrive it definitely perks your ears up. It is the most “Jeff” sounding track on the album. ‘Pride And Prejudice’ ends the album on a heavy note with a screed on the current state of the world and a dim view for the future.

Armed with 12 new ditties toasting humanity’s self-destruction, the new Slayer album is a complex one. That they have made a complete album in 2015, should surprise none. Whether it lands in the pantheon of their greatest works, I’m not so sure about that one. Things that hold the album back from greatness are the differing styles of producers Greg Fieldman and Terry Date, the choppy mixing, and perhaps a lack of the uniqueness where a lot of the songs just sound like tributes to their past. Perhaps next time Gary Holt can chime in and co-write some tracks too. Overall Repentless is an enjoyable, fierce album that sounds essentially like a Slayer album should.

8 / 10

KEITH CHACHKES