There was a time when it seemed Slayer could do no wrong. While 1980s thrash compatriots Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax shifted musical direction or floundered commercially, the quartet persistently churned out some of the most extreme and thrilling speed-metal around.
And yet Repentless, the group’s 11th studio effort, arrives with a fair amount of fan skepticism, a rarity for this revered band. Much of it is due to the fact that the record is the first without co-founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who died of liver failure in 2013. Hanneman was the pen behind grisly monoliths like “Angel of Death,” and while nothing on Repentless reaches similar heights of mayhem, overall the album is more focused and fierce than its predecessor, 2009’s Hanneman-assisted World Painted Blood.