Slayer
South of Heaven


5.0
classic

Review

by Vilen1025 USER (7 Reviews)
June 4th, 2010 | 58 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Forget Reign in Blood - this is Slayer's definitive album.

Slayer met their critical peak in 1986 with their studio album Reign in Blood. With ten short, fast chunks of pure evil, they helped define thrash metal as it is known today. In fact, many can hardly think of metal without thinking of pentagrams, death, or the occult. Slayer (along with bands like Venom) gave metal a deathly vibe that inspired many bands to follow in their footsteps, trying hard to sound progressively darker. So, could a band that created one of the heaviest, most sinister albums of all time create another album epic? The answer: yes. And Slayer does it very well in 1988's South of Heaven.

If one were to listen to all Slayer albums in order, the first thing he or she would notice about this record is that it's significantly slower than the previous ones. The band members themselves acknowledged that they had qualms about lowering the raging tempos, but while some fans may not enjoy the relatively low aggression in some of the tracks, it is hard to deny that Slayer's move was a good one. Yes, they sacrificed speed, but in turn, they sound much more haunting - frightening, even - on South of Heaven. The album opens up with the title song, whose riff, while bearing some resemblance to that of "Raining Blood," carries a presence of its own that few metal bands could produce. It starts to open up, and Dave Lombardo kicks in with some of his best drumming. It's not as mindlessly rapid as his earlier work, but shows creativity and finesse. Over the guitar, Tom Araya starts singing (yes, singing) melodically, ending the intro with the vicious, sarcastic "before you see the light, you must die!" and the song finally reveals its heaviness through the work of Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. This song can possibly be compared to being in a descending elevator with Hell itself being revealed to the listener.

"South of Heaven" segues into the next track quite nicely, a fast-paced bite of thunder called "Silent Scream." Songs like this and "Ghosts of War" will probably appeal to more traditional Slayer fans, as they are at the classic speedy tempos of older work. There are also songs of moderate tempos such as "Live Undead." It's this variety that makes the album so appealing. Listening to Reign in Blood was exhilarating the first few times, but the repetitive nature of the tracks wore out rather quickly, at least to my ears. South of Heaven has musical surprises and shocks in ever corner, like a house of horrors. It captures every bit of Slayer's technical ability in myriad ways.

For starters, it is worth noting that the solos by Hanneman and King are a bit more creative on this album. No, they're still not that good, but Slayer has always preferred for their solos to sound strained and horrific (to imitate human screams) rather than virtuosic and technical. Here, they do explore some different areas, such as in "Spill the Blood," which is surprisingly atmospheric and varied, and actually does include some tuneful elements. The rest of the guitar work is also much more experimental, with a rhythmic introduction in "Behind the Crooked Cross" and an acoustic-sounding starter in "Spill the Blood." However, the driving force through this album is the drumming. It's simply superb. There is not a single track which has anything below a spectacular drum line, which is both rhythmic and sophisticated. "Behind the Crooked Cross" features some of Lombardo's best drumming, which is ever-present and retains some of the feelings from Reign in Blood. This is also the case with "Read Between the Lies," which combines the fast undertones of thrash metal with the diversity of more classic heavy metal.

Speaking of classic metal, it is worth noting that on the record is a cover of Judas Priest's "Dissident Aggressor." Of course, since Tom's vocal range could not match that of Halford's, the high-pitched wails in the original track are replaced by loud guitar bends. However, the cover is a good one, and is very distinctly Slayer-esque. No, they did not write the song, but added their own style to it, and it's definitely worth a listen. Or ten.

Lyrically, Slayer hasn't changed much. Araya pens some of the lyrics, but the overarching themes in Slayer's music (death, the occult, religion) are still the same. In "Mandatory Suicide," Araya roars about war, declaring "lying, dying, screaming in pain. begging, pleading, bullets drop like rain/Mines explode, pain sheers through your brain, radical amputation, this is insane." Perhaps the themes covered are somewhat more mature and realistic than those in Reign in Blood, Hell Awaits, or Show No Mercy, however; "Silent Scream" possibly talks about abortion, and "Ghosts of War" about... what else? Either way, Slayer is still being Slayer here, controversial and dark as all hell. No pun intended.

So, how does it stand with Reign in Blood? Well, that album has gone down in history as one of the most influential albums in metal history. Sadly, South of Heaven is often forgotten as an album for this reason. However, musically and lyrically, it surpasses Reign in Blood. Tom's vocals range from wretched yells to melodic singing, Kerry and Jeff work together fantastically, both complimenting each other, and Dave roars away on his drums. The only instrument that isn't so present here is the bass guitar. That being said, South of Heaven captures all one needs to know about Slayer - the force, the music, and the pure evil that helped them attain the prominence in heavy metal they have.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Vilen1025
June 4th 2010


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Comments would be appreciated. Plus, it's worth noting that two of the tracks (the title track and "Behind the Crooked Cross") were adapted into music for the Doom video game series.

coneren
June 4th 2010


11111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

THANK YOU!!!I also prefer this to Reign

Vilen1025
June 4th 2010


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Yo faggot ass don know shit, dawg. A 5? Yo hittin that glass dick or sumpin, nigga?"
I'm sorry, I don't speak ebonics. Could you translate that for me?

ShadowRemains
June 4th 2010


21364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

...if Grant was here....

combustion07
June 4th 2010


5420 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

SOH>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>RIB

ShadowRemains
June 4th 2010


21364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

bad combustion!

coneren
June 4th 2010


11111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

South of Heaven is one of my favorite openers

Ire
June 4th 2010


41822 Comments


No, Metallicaman8 dude.

ShadowRemains
June 4th 2010


21364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Your review astounds me. To call this a classic and better than Reign in Blood is a travesty.
I'd highly recommend you change your rating, before I search you out and turn you out."

rofl

coneren
June 4th 2010


11111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH holy fuck, that made my fucking night!!!!

Vilen1025
June 4th 2010


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

""I'm sorry, I don't speak ebonics. Could you translate that for me?"
Ya, no problem.

Your review astounds me. To call this a classic and better than Reign in Blood is a travesty. I'd highly recommend you change your rating, before I search you out and turn you out.

Dere, does that work, nigga?"

Thank you very much. :D
And no, I won't change my rating.

coneren
June 4th 2010


11111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh yes, and I also like this review

ShadowRemains
June 4th 2010


21364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I prefer Reign In Blood, but those comments make me lol

Vilen1025
June 4th 2010


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Den ya a fuck nigga. You like dat shit, Bati Boy?"

Hm... "dat shit" wasn't bad. I preferred its predecessor, "dis shit", but the latter works just as nicely.

Parallels
June 4th 2010


6643 Comments


holy funny crazy comments lol
best slayer album, perfection on so many levels

ShadowRemains
June 4th 2010


21364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

is this hollier? :P

Vilen1025
June 4th 2010


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Batty boy (also spelled bhatti boy, batty bwoy), bati man and bati chick are pejorative sexual slurs used to describe gay, bisexual and effeminate men, or those presumed to be gay and bisexual. The term is a Jamaican Patois abbreviation of the word bottom into batty; "batty boy" is a cognate of the American English "butt boy"."

Hm... interesting.

ShadowRemains
June 4th 2010


21364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you sound like 50 Cent...

Vilen1025
June 4th 2010


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"you sound like 50 Cent..."

True dat. Oh snap... I've picked up his lingo.

Ire
June 4th 2010


41822 Comments


Hollier is racist



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