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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavenly Aggression, 10 Sept. 2008
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This review is from: South Of Heaven (Audio CD)
Following the unsurpassable 1986 album "Reign On Blood", where Slayer took thrash metal to an extreme (perhaps not of speed or of heaviness but of horrifying believability), they changed tack somewhat for the 1988 follow-up, "South Of Heaven". The sound is richer and fuller; Tom Araya's voice is deeper, less screamed and more clearly enunciated (which make the stories of war, abortion and insanity all the more compelling); the drums really pound, and there's greater variety in the dynamics. (Also, Kerry King wrote much less and Tom Araya much more of the album, which might account for the songs being less throat-rippingly intense, and more about the build-up).

Song for song I think this is undoubtedly one of Slayer's best, on a par with "Reign In Blood". (The subsequent "Seasons In The Abyss" which caps Slayer's golden age, falls down a little, while "Hell Awaits" and "Show No Mercy" have only flashes of their utter brilliance).

"South Of Heaven" for example is a fantastic opener - an eerie guitar opening leading to a mid-paced metal assault that is really full-bodied. It takes its time, unhurried and utterly assured, and builds to an awesomely intense ending. "Silent Scream" on the other hand pounds hard from the beginning, and has a chorus highlighted by Dave Lombardo's intense-as-hell drumming fills, not to mention guitar solos swapped telepathically by Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. "Behind The Crooked Cross" is also relatively mid-paced, with an excellent lyric narrating the story of a Nazi trapped by his role and no longer able to express his humanity. "Mandatory Suicide" meanwhile has an almost shocking ending, with Tom Araya speaking, dead-pan, over increasingly intense and heavy sounds which fill you with absolute dread. And "Read Between The Lies" show just how sincere Slayer's contempt for Christianty's social control is - which makes their Satanic trappings (and demonic cover art) seem never put on (as with bands like Venom or Iron Maiden) but genuine and forceful.

Which goes to show how forceful Slayer are - they never sound contrived, artificial or ironic. Everything is real, everything is meant. It's remarkable how powerful this album is and has remained in the twenty years since its release - testament to the power, anger and control of Slayer.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Jul 2009 11:22:46 BDT
Last edited by the author on 31 Jul 2009 11:23:47 BDT
Jimmer says:
Kerry King only wrote one song on his own for Reign in Blood: "Piece By Piece" (one of the slowest songs on there). He wrote the lyrics to five of them and co-wrote some more of the music such as the solo's in others. He co-wrote music on 3 of the songs on South of Heaven and (co)wrote the lyrics on 4 songs. So that's one song less.

If you listen to the last two Slayer albums, KK has written most of the music and lyrics (about 80-90% of the material) and it is all slow, chugging wrestling themes. I don't think it is fair to assume he is solely responsible for the intensity on Reign in Blood.

Aside from that one point, this is a good review :)

Posted on 11 Oct 2009 18:47:31 BDT
A. Moncrieff says:
I also want to say Hell Awaits has more than a flash of brilliance. It's a great metal album in it's own right, even if the production isn't as good as the Rubin albums.
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