2/5/2013. The day Jeff Hanneman passed away, and thrash metal would never be the same again. Slayer didn’t just lose any member; They lost the band’s soul, and its most charismatic songwriter. The guy who wrote ‘Angel of Death’, ‘South of Heaven’, ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ and most of the group’s famous and best songs. Later came the – probably definite, this time – departure of Dave Lombardo. For the first time, the future of one of the more consistent acts in heavy music was in question.

If there’s a bright side to any of this, since they decided to continue, it’s that Kerry King and Tom Araya (King especially) have everything to prove on this record. Paul Bostaph is, with Lombardo gone, the best solution behind the drums, but the real game changer was the recruitment of Gary Holt, the only person whose name can be mentioned in the same breath as Hanneman, Hetfield, Mustaine… without it being sacrilegious. If, on the next album, he participates in the writing process as well, we will be talking on different terms.
For now, ‘Repentless’ is the work of a very determined Kerry King, and it serves as his vindication. The material is as good as the last 3 Slayer records, which, in my opinion, are all very good. Songs like the title track, ‘Cast the First Stone’, ‘You Against You’ (or King vs. Lombardo) and ‘Piano Wire’ which is one of the last things Hanneman ever wrote, prove once again the charm of the unrelenting musical and lyrical attack that makes Slayer unique. The only ‘failure’ in King’s part is ‘When the Stillness Comes’ mostly because he attempted to write a ‘Hanneman song’.

So, is Jeff’s input missing? Of course. But as it turns out, half of Slayer is still Slayer.