Slayer – “South Of Heaven” (1988)

SlayerThe two Slayer albums that preceded 1988’s South Of Heaven were Hell Awaits (1985) and Reign In Blood (1986).  The former was an excruciating and virtually unlistenable exercise in noise.  The latter was a blitzkrieg of ultra-fast Satanica.  To Slayer’s credit, they chose not to revisit either album on South Of Heaven.  Having nothing left to prove on those two fronts, Slayer decided to use more slower tempos on South Of Heaven — which amounted to more earthshaking grooves than ever before.

I believe that Slayer’s secret weapon at this point in their career was their producer Rick Rubin.  Rubin was a master at obtaining a MASSIVE drum sound.  Coupled with Dave Lombardo’s tremendous drum playing, South Of Heaven is an absolute tour de force when it comes to drums.  Believe me, this album will SHAKE YOUR FOUNDATIONS at high volumes!

Though South Of Heaven contains my favorite Slayer song of all time with its sinister title track, I’m afraid this album never really delivers a knockout blow.  Despite the incredible drum sound and some truly mountainous riffs, almost all the songs on South Of Heaven lack a definite payoff.  To me, this is because Slayer didn’t have the appropriate breadth or depth to deliver a truly well-rounded album.  Slayer were easily the most one-dimensional band of the vaunted “Big Four”.  As such, I listen to Slayer far less than Anthrax, Metallica, or Megadeth.  Yes, a little Slayer goes a long way, but listening to South Of Heaven from start to finish can get a little boring.  My score: B-

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5 thoughts on “Slayer – “South Of Heaven” (1988)

  1. Definitely yeah, the drums stand-out on this album though it didn’t really grab me. I guess when you make an album like “Reign in Blood” then it’s hard to write anything to top that!

  2. We cannot forget ‘Show No Mercy’ from 1983, a definitive debut from Slayer that trumps Metallica’s ‘Kill ‘Em All’ debut, IMO. I’ve always been (honestly) keen about Slayer slowing things down on ‘South Of Heaven’, while touting that ‘Reign In Blood’ is the holy grail of Speed/Thrash/Extreme Metal combined. \m/

  3. I’m a Slayer fan, and I really dig listening to them on headphones in the dark while on the treadmill for some reason. Their music is conducive to mental tripping for me, I guess. That said, I have to give you credit for nailing it with your “one-dimensional” description of the band. While I find it to be an awesome “dimension,” I must admit to having a hard time distinguishing songs from each other unless I’m actively paying attention. On the other hand, it is great to be able to drop the needle completely randomly within my Slayer collection and still be assured that it’ll put me right in the expected groove.

    Nice post, man. Thanks.

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