Slayer - South Of Heaven review
|Album:||South Of Heaven|
|Release date:||July 1988|
01. South Of Heaven
02. Silent Scream
03. Live Undead
04. Behind The Crooked Cross
05. Mandatory Suicide
06. Ghosts Of War
07. Read Between The Lies
08. Cleanse The Soul
09. Dissident Aggressor [Judas Priest cover]
10. Spill The Blood
After the worldwide exposure Slayer received for their previous release, Reign in Blood, the anticipation for its follow-up was immense. They had already pushed the boundaries of Thrash Metal to its extremities, what could they possibly come up with to tread anywhere even close to that? In South of Heaven they gave the perfect answer to all the sceptics.
From the beginning you know you're about to listen to something truly special with the unusually slow, yet completely mesmerising intro to the title track. As haunting as a funeral march it builds up to the impending doom with the statement that you will never see the light until you die. The intensity shifts from the tempo of a deathly crawl to frantic drum fills and searing guitar solos and back again. The album continues with this mix of frantic pace and the sometimes painfully slower, endless march-like tempos.
We are taken on a journey of disillusionment with the world's social ills. Promiscuity, incest and abortion get the album on its way. "Mandatory Suicide" resonates the hopelessness of the soldier on the front line with the chant "Suicide, Suicide" and the track "Ghosts of War" follows, this time dealing with the lingering memories of war and the mental disturbances involved. Never before had there been such a calculated full scale attack on Christianity and organized religion as a whole as in "Read Between the Lies". The typical death orientated, depression, malicious aggression and occult concepts are thrown in the mix for good measure.
The music flows through some incredibly complex arrangements with an uncannily complimentary dual guitar attack, yet remains simple enough in its approach to really draw the listener in. You simply cannot help yourself but become completely encapsulated in the music no matter what the environment or circumstance.
The vocals are also a unique factor to this album inasmuch as they are a lot cleaner than on other albums which make the social commentary so much more poignant. For the first time we hear Slayer using clean guitars, with the 12 string acoustic intro to "Spill the Blood" which remains a key element throughout the song and finishes the album in tremendous fashion.
This album just has so many layers and it explored entirely new territories for Slayer but didn't sound experimental for a moment. Each and every element sounds so completely natural, the sign of great musicians at the top of their game.
|It's been 20 years since a masterpiece was left to us here on earth. 20 years of bleeding ears and head-banging; 20 years of Thrash at its finest. "South of Heaven" is not only a milestone for metal; it created a standard for all Thrash to follow. Slayer burst onto the scene like only Satan's minions could and rocked our bodies until our brains were sore. This album is fierce; it's powerful; it's metal.
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| Haiwaan Das
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