I’m writing this before I listen to the album in question, South of Heaven
. In all honesty, I’ve heard maybe one full album by trash metal “gods" Slayer
, and I was not impressed in the least. Sure, the guitarists were solid at what they do, and no doubt godsends for their time, but it just sounded as if time had taken its toll on the band. So, as there has recently been a trend in rating classic metal albums low, I decided I’d do a review of South of Heaven
. Upon acquiring this album, I realized I had heard Spill the Blood
before, and had actually thought it was the best Slayer
I had heard up to that point.
This is where that point of me not listening to the album comes to an end. After a preliminary listen to Spill the Blood
, I was wholeheartedly anticipating listening to the rest of the album. The low-key intro that led into the bombastic song itself was fantastic, and the guitarists surely proved to me why they are referred to as gods by the general thrash public. I was disappointed by two things (and these two things are very important, so listen closely): for one, the mix on the bass was far too low for my liking, with it being almost completely drowned out by the blistering guitars. Secondly, the drums were entirely under whelming. When I’m listening to “heavy" metal (heavy in general, not specifying any particular genre), I want my drums to be pounding, to drive the music. Slayer’s drummer just felt…weak.
I was unfortunately displeased by the remainder of the album. It could very well be that I am an untrained noob listening to thrash with no real appreciation for it, but honestly most of the songs blended in for me. Sure, the guitar work was astounding, but then again, the guitar work began to wear on me by albums end. With the other instruments really not being there to back them up, the guitars are basically tasked with the charge with both being explosive and shredtastic, but also with keeping the song together. The guitarists actually do quite the job at keeping everything together, but after a while, I just got sick of it.
One thing I came in thinking and came out knowing was that Slayer’s vocalist is absolutely terrible. While it may be cliché, the only person I can compare him too is that one dude guy from Metallica
(shows how much thrash I listen to in all honesty). His delivery is barely adequate, but when your voice is just so generic and depends on that horrible “Gruffness" that metal is known for in the mainstream, you’re just going to have to at least have an interesting way of singing. On that note, as has been said at least three times, Slayer
has rather poor lyrics. An example from the title track:
An age of distrust.
Here goes a small example from the “ballad" and previously mentioned track, Spill the Blood
Spill your blood, let it run on to me,
Take my hand and let go of your life.
Close your eyes and see what is me,
Raise the chalice, embrace for evermore.
Now, admittedly, those are near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to this album, but when trying to look for lyrics I actually thought were nifty, I couldn’t find any. Like much of what Slayer does, it really just seems to be one of those now stereotypical things that they were the originally the pioneers of. Honestly, they’re rather stupid and I’d much rather have most of these songs be about some beautiful woman than epic battles filled with blood.
And alas, we approach what must be called the conclusion. I have a few things I suppose I should say that will pretty much sum up my feelings on the album. One, the mix is completely unfair to the bass, drums, and even vocals (although that does less hindering than it should…), and really makes the guitars too much of a focus. Secondly, going on that note, the guitarists are amazing. For the first 10 minutes you listen to Slayer
. After that, if you’re not a metal-head yourself, you’ll probably find yourself thinking “Ok cool more guitar solos…I’m going to go take a leak." Third, the album itself is extremely dated. What was impressive back then it just sort of “Well, that’s good" now. So, in short, I am actually on the borderline of liking this album. If there was more variety (Silent Scream
and the previously mentioned [twice at this point] Spill the Blood
are really the only two songs I can distinguish off the top of my head), I would probably be inclined to give this an immediate score of “Great." However, I am instead going to make a mockery of reviewing scores, and score this in every cliché way possible. Here we go!
Out of Genre: 2
In Genre: 4
For its Time: 4
These Days: 2.5
Influence Level: 4.5
So there you have it, 8 ratings that really don’t mean much. Averaged out, that’s a 3.0625. So in the end, I am going to go ahead and give South of Heaven
a 3. IF you want one of the pioneering records of thrash, by all means pick this up. If you enjoy other Slayer
material or like thrash in general, I’d recommend it. Otherwise I really can’t. Unless you like cheesy lyrics, which I know many of you do. If that’s the case with you, I say: Why the he
ll are you not in your car driving to get this now.