SLAYER — South of Heaven (review)

SLAYER — South of Heaven album cover Album · 1988 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Unitron
Imagine, after listening to the short, rapid, frantic, and brutal assault of Reign in Blood, picking up the next Slayer album. You expect another fast as hell thrash-fest, but what's this? Something has happened, it's still fast, but not completely. So what is this difference that changes the sound quite noticeably? The band slows it down at the right times.

Huh? You may be thinking that can't make much of a difference, but if you just compare the opening title cut with any songs from Reign in Blood and you'll notice. Just slowing the tempo down makes it sound so much darker and more menacing. The slow and brooding piercing riffs that open up the album really let you know that you've gone South of Heaven. Don't think it doesn't get fast though, Slayer wouldn't be Slayer if they weren't fast. However, the band really makes their music that much darker just by adding in brooding dirges of punishing riffing.

The whole album is a masterpiece, but if I had to pick highlights, those picks would be the title cut, "Silent Scream", "Behind the Crooked Cross", "Mandatory Suicide", "Spill the Blood", and the cover of the Judas Priest classic "Dissident Aggressor". The title cut, as described above, and "Mandatory Suicide" are perfect combinations of brutal thrashings and devilish dirges. "Silent Scream" is pure thrash deliciousness, while The Crooked Cross brings a catchy as hell groove. The Priest cover is faithful but at the same time the band gives it their own sound.

Tom Araya's vocals are as commanding and powerful as ever, Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King's riffs shred and tear, the solos are fast and screeching as always , and Dave Lombardo's drums will kick your ass. Drums roll for the slow passages and go anywhere when it's time for a thrash assault. One listen to this album is proof of him being one of the best drummers out there, and pretty much the Neil Peart of thrash metal. Stark menacing riffs, drumming that packs a punch, and a pounding groove close out the album with finale "Spill the Blood".

South of Heaven shows how just changing the tempo can make all the difference. For me Reign in Blood through Divine Intervention represents the holy tetralogy of Slayer's discography, and truly represent some of the best albums out there. If you haven't heard this album yet and are a metal fan, you must see the light for "Before you see the light, you must listen to South of Heaven". Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!
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Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
You're right, the drum sound on this album and Moving Pictures are quite similar. Never noticed that before, I guess that just further drives my point home :-)
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
The Neil Peart of thrash metal...hell yeah, that´s actually a good comparison. The dry drum sound on South of Heaven also reminds me sligthly of the powerful dry drum sound on "Moving Pictures".

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