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South of Heaven [CASSETTE]

4.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • ASIN: B000002KZW
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,354,219 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Format: Audio CD
Following the full-on speed-burst insanity of Slayer's immense 3rd album Reign in Blood, 1988's follow-up record South of Heaven regularly gets the tag as Slayer's 'slow' album. That's not strictly accurate however, as this album is much more varied than Reign in Blood, ranging from the slow but majestic tracks South of Heaven and Spill the Blood through such mid-pace songs as Mandatory Suicide and Behind the Crooked Cross, and even taking in such tracks as Silent Scream and Cleanse the Soul, which are fast and furious enough to give anything on Reign in Blood a run for it's money. While South of Heaven cant compete with Reign in Blood for sheer speed and intensity there is probably a better quality of song-writing on display here, and ironically the general slowing down of the tracks actually makes Dave Lombardo's drums sound more impressive, as he now has the space to insert numerous immense tom rolls. Crucially South of Heaven sees Slayer still growing and experimenting with their sound - witness Tom Araya's narration on Mandatory Suicide, the intro from Chemical Warfare pasted onto the front of Ghosts of War, the twisted melodic singing on Behind the Crooked Cross and Spill the Blood, even the almost rap rhythm vocals of Read Between the Lies. Throughout the riffs are immense - just listen to the epic fade-out on the title track that loops backwards into the intro to the insane opening of Silent Scream and you'll be converted. Yes - it's different than the unbeatable Reign in Blood - but South of Heaven is still an essential metal classic in it's own right.
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Format: Audio CD
This is definitely, in my opinion, the best album Slayer have ever produced. I know everybody always goes on about how amazing 'Reign In Blood' is - and it is amazing - but this album is far more consistent and, though it doesn't contain such classics as 'Angel Of Death' and 'Raining Blood', the music contains far more variation and is generally better structured, with a greater focus on melodies than 'Reign In Blood', which relies, on the most part, on insane guitar riffs. This is one of the few albums I own (of any artist, not just Slayer) of which I genuinely love every single song. The music contains some of the most incredible drumming you will EVER hear (Dave Lombardo is a god) and although the album is often criticised for being markedly slower and more melodic than Slayer's previous efforts, it does not lose an ounce of the heaviness which makes Slayer the greatest thrash metal band of all time.
Key tracks: South Of Heaven, Behind The Crooked Cross, Mandatory Suicide, Spill The Blood
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Format: Audio CD
I've been listening to all my old albums again, this time on digital media using the good quality equipment. It's been great, lovely to hear the music properly. One reason why I broadened my musical horizons from metal was that a lot of bands just rely on thrashing their guitars harder, shouting more, playing faster in order to make a more intense sound. It doesn't work. It just gets noisier instead.
But then I managed to get my hands on South of Heaven again and it really came back to me just how evil and intense the sound is. Absolutely excellent. Just oozing with heavy raw emotion, grinding angry guitar riffs, expressive vocals. Yes sure Reign in Blood is fast and all that, but this is the more intense album.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Audio CD
Back in the day Slayer used to be quite quixotic. From the strange mix of glam and thrash on their debut to the almost doom metal stylings of Hell Awaits through to the out and out balls-to-the-wall reinvention of thrash on the seminal Reign in Blood, they actually came at their material from very different angles. This did not change with South of Heaven. Anyone listening to Reign in Blood would think this a different band. I suppose you could say this is their most 'thoughtful' release, if that actually means anything at all. It is fast but it is also melodic and there is a genuine effort shown to write coherent songs.

The change is heard right from the word go. The title track begins almost funerealy with a slow (for them) riff that permeates the whole song and a chanting chorus that sticks in your head and wont get out. A classic. 'Silent Scream' is segued in after the distortion from the first track. It is more akin to the Slayer of Reign in Blood. This is a fast thrash track. And it is a belter. 'Live Undead' is a great slow burner that makes most use of form and content: it's like a soundtrack to zombie attack in a graveyard. 'Behind the crooked Cross' is not as assured as the tracks that preceded it but it is still a great little mid-tempo chug-fest. 'Mandatory Suicide' - mmm. Not much I can say really except, heavyweight classic of momentous proportions! As with all super classics (Reign in Blood, Angel of Death, Hell Awaits to name a few from this band) it is beyond critique - it just IS. It's there. If you haven't heard it, well, it's the very essence of all that is Slayer. 'Ghosts of War' is a fun little thrash number with a great breakdown to end on. 'Read Between the Lines' is much like 'Behind...' and is a great song to listen to - it almost makes you want to dance. Almost.
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