Slayer
South of Heaven


4.0
excellent

Review

by Pepe Silvia USER (15 Reviews)
September 12th, 2009 | 22 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist


South Of Heaven was Slayer's first stab at slowing down their blistering thrash sound and creating a more sinister record. Unfortunately, that 'first stab' part is evident. The boys wouldn't perfect this sound until Seasons In The Abyss, which is hailed by many as the Slayer masterpiece. This is definitely the weakest of Slayer's peak outings (Hell Awaits - Seasons In The Abyss), but it is by no means bad. This is a fine thrash album; but it has its share of holes.

The most noticeable change is Tom Araya's vocal style. Instead of the gruff, psychotic delivery that became synonomous with Angel of Death and Raining Blood, he now sounds like a poor man's Rob Halford. A very poor man's Rob Halford. That no doubt coincides with, maybe even causes the album's lessened intensity. At times it works well, but Silent Scream and Ghosts Of War (by far the two best tracks here) would have been made even better if the old Tom Araya was on the mic. However, drummer Dave Lombardo (as if he really needs that prefix) puts on his best performance yet. Every song features extremely proficient drumming from Dave, and a couple of the songs (Ghosts Of War in particular) are just jaw-dropping. Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman seem to have gained more skill with their guitars. The riffs are as good as ever, mostly, but now, not every solo consists of blazing yet incoherent notes. Hell, Hanneman even plays a melodic guitar solo in Spill The Blood.

The only song on here I can really label as terrible would be Mandatory Suicide. That track is just a disaster. The song is monotonous, the riffing packs zero punch, and there's a completely unnecessary spoken bit near the end that sounds nothing like Slayer. That's something Judas Priest would do, no offense to them. A couple of other bland ones are Spill The Blood and Behind The Crooked Cross. Spill The Blood is good for the first few seconds, as the acoustic intro is very cool. Then it sinks into mediocrity. Slayer tried their best to make this track eerie and disturbing, but the only feeling they successfully conveyed was boredom. BTCC is just weak. Not awful, but weak. Nothing stands out.

I tend to like the faster songs the best here. Silent Scream and Ghosts Of War are excellent, excellent cuts. Both probably in my top 5, the former arguably the band's best work. Cleanse The Soul is another fast track, and is highly underrated. An album highlight, for sure. Live Undead starts out rather slowly, and builds to a speedy solo-fest about halfway through, but maintains a good intensity the entire time (although it also features a cringe-worthy scream from Araya... no wonder we haven't heard it since). The title track is pretty decent, and probably Tom's best vocal outing, but I can't help but feel like it would have really benefited from amping the pace up and closing the track out with some flying solos, or maybe inserting them in the middle somewhere.

In a nutshell, that's the main issue with this album. I know the band wanted to slow down in order to give their music some variation and avoid repeating themselves, but when warp-speed songs like Silent Scream, Ghosts Of War, and Cleanse The Soul are so well executed and seem to fly by so effortlessly, the toned-down style seems more and more forced. The shortage of raw speed - an intentional change - is ultimately what holds South Of Heaven back.

Recommended Tracks:
Silent Scream
Live Undead
Ghosts Of War
Cleanse The Soul



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user ratings (2027)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Jesuslaves
September 12th 2009


4655 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Couple of things. First, I wasn't sure what to rate this. 4 seems a bit too high, 3.5 seems a bit too low. So consider this a 3.8 rating.

Second, I'm gonna go ahead and review the Slayer studio discrography. You don't like it, bite me. I decided this today, after I literally spent the day listening to the four classic albums on surround sound with full bass at like 25/40 volume.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2009


17215 Comments


South of Heaven and Seasons in the Abyss are the only slayer records I dig.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

Phantom
September 12th 2009


8930 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

moi aussi

Jesuslaves
September 12th 2009


4655 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'll guess that means 'me too', or something similar?


I'm a dirty American who speaks no second languages.

gaslightanthem
September 12th 2009


5209 Comments


jun jun jun

Greggers
September 12th 2009


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Reign and Seasons are better than this, good review

south_of_heaven 11
September 12th 2009


5433 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Two things are wrong here:

The most noticeable change is Tom Araya's vocal style. Instead of the gruff, psychotic delivery that became synonomous with Angel of Death and Raining Blood, he now sounds like a poor man's Rob Halford. A very poor man's Rob Halford


wait what album are you listening to man? a rob halford comparison? hrmm i mean i can understand maybe just for dissident aggressor since it's a judas priest cover but for the whole album? no way

and title track is the greatest song slayer has ever written (and this is the best album)


Jesuslaves
September 12th 2009


4655 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"wait what album are you listening to man? a rob halford comparison? hrmm i mean i can understand maybe just for dissident aggressor since it's a judas priest cover but for the whole album? no way"

I admit, that might have been stretching it. But on tracks like BTCC and Cleanse The Soul, he really does remind me of Halford.

I didn't dare compare their skill by the way. Just the general sound. Maybe its just me.

"and title track is the greatest song slayer has ever written (and this is the best album)"

no

Willie
Moderator
September 12th 2009


16018 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is a good and thorough review. I've never heard this album before (except for what's on Decade of Aggression).

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

LepreCon
September 12th 2009


4106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Album's killer, but I love Seasons better. Great review

Piglet
September 12th 2009


4654 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

reasonably okay, that's all I'll say about the album -- good but unneeded review



Greggers
September 12th 2009


2375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Actually this is the only '4' review for this, so I don't see anything wrong

Piglet
September 12th 2009


4654 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ah good point, didn't see that

taylormemer
September 12th 2009


4917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, nah I love this record. Not as much as Seasons, but yeah.

Xenorazr
September 13th 2009


442 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I've only heard three Slayer albums (this, Seasons and Reign in Blood), this is the weakest of the three but it's still a good album all told, the slow style gave it some haunting moments which was nice, but Seasons has to be my favorite, a great mix of this and Reign In Blood.

FadeToBlack
September 13th 2009


10926 Comments


BURRRRRRRRRRRRRRN!

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
September 13th 2009


7343 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, but i prefer Seasons In The Abyss and Reign In Blood over this

Jesuslaves
September 13th 2009


4655 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

As do I. ;)

KILL
September 13th 2009


71839 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sexy

Digging: A Guy Called Gerald - Black Secret Technology

qwe
September 13th 2009


302 Comments


ahhhhh me likes this album.

love how the album takes time to speed up



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