Duran Duran, "Paper Gods" (Warner Bros.)
Nostalgia is fleeting, but it is renewable, and every few years, Duran Duran returns to remind a new set of people of a sound that they love. The 14th Duran Duran album, and first since 2011, brims with the signature louche funk that made this group a paragon of early 1980s excess. Simon Le Bon's default vocal approach is still the come-on. But here, he's newly cynical about the things that used to turn this band on. The title song, about the hollowness of beauty, almost feels like a rebuke to "Rio." "Butterfly Girl" is throbbing disco, recalling the band's 1980s peak. Duran Duran chooses its collaborators wisely here, opting for some from that golden age, such as Nile Rodgers of Chic, or those who've internalized that era's balance of sleaze and good cheer, such as Mark Ronson. So long as Le Bon is oozing atop brisk arrangements like this, the specifics of the words don't much matter. Everyone here has the posture down cold. It's not nostalgia if you never stopped.
JON CARAMANICA, New York Times
Slayer, "Repentless" (Nuclear Blast)
Slayer's mid-'80s thrash-metal implied a set of willful extremes, but also an economy and focus. It found its essence in attitudes and strategies that wouldn't go out of style: previews of the apocalypse, guitar duels, tempos above 200 beats per minute. "Repentless" is the sound of Slayer telling you that it still recognizes its essence, despite the fact that three people associated with its best work are now gone. Those are guitarist and songwriter Jeff Hanneman, who died in 2013 and has been replaced by Gary Holt; drummer Dave Lombardo, who left the band in 2013, replaced by Paul Bostaph, and longtime producer Rick Rubin. The new album is produced by Terry Date and doesn't greatly vary the formula. You don't hear the band straining against limitations, or writing at its peak. But "Repentless" is full of certainty, good enough. The title track is not about a warlord but a hardened musician, and the album feels self-referential. And then there's the aggrieved yelling of Tom Araya, the bassist and singer. "So is it just me?" he asks in "Implode." "Can everyone see/the world drowning in its own blood?" He's been doing this for a very long time, but there's still no reverb on his vocals, no smoke and mirrors to make him grander than he is. He's still reflecting fear and cynicism: permanent conditions.
BEN RATLIFF, New York Times