After the death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman in 2013, the future of Slayer seemed in doubt. A subsequent interview with the surviving members raised questions about whether the rest of the group would carry on in the face of their founding member’s passing. But now, the album Slayer had begun writing prior to Hanneman’s death is complete, and Consequence Of Sound reports the whole thing is streaming online for free, through Spotify. And despite singer-bassist Tom Araya’s fear that the band’s sound would be too altered without Hanneman—“I’m not sure the fans would be so accepting of that drastic a change,” he said in 2013—devotees of Slayer’s pummeling aural assault needn’t worry, because this sounds a hell of a lot like the Slayer you know and love.
Called Repentless, the album brings back former drummer Paul Bostaph, and finds Hanneman’s longtime friend and Exodus guitarist Gary Holt stepping in to contribute the fiery and frenetic riffing that was Hanneman’s stock in trade. It’s very much of a piece with the band’s best material (read: nothing like the unfortunate nu-metal misstep of 1998’s Diabolus In Musica), and though Araya’s voice might be gaining some rougher edges with age, he still hollers with the best of them. Also, “Atrocity Vendor” and “Pride In Prejudice” rank among some of the group’s most delightfully named compositions. Never change, Slayer.