Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Slayer a Day - South of Heaven

Slayer - South of Heaven"On and on - South of Heaven!"

Slayer continues to pulverize on their next album, South of Heaven, albeit with even more riffage and an overall slower grind. This slowness on the opener may have disappointed the stalwart (it is, after all, a big change from how they they started every other record), but the music was by no means any less heavy. Hell, a patient listener simply had to wait a total of a whopping five minutes (for "Silent Screams") to realize that Slayer wasn't about to slow down just because Reign In Blood opened the popularity doors a little wider. Rick Rubin once again was at the helm producing, and he was able to successfully improve and clean up their sound even further without sacrificing any brutality.

There's no denying, however, that South of Heaven is a more accessible album for the stereotypical heavy metal fan. "Behind the Crooked Cross" has a blistering riff which reminds one of Metallica's "Master of Puppets", yet stays true to Slayer by having a killer "Chemical Warfare" type intro (yet even better executed). "Live Undead" pleases the musical types via its fantastic drum fills (not to mention the coolness of Lombardo speeding the beat up when the guitars are going slow, and slowing it down when the guitars are going fast). "Dissident Aggressor" is a fantastic cover of an old Judas Priest favorite.

Finally, "Spill the Blood" is worthy to note. On this album Slayer honed their songwriting by taking some more risks with song timing, which gives their tunes a little more room to breathe, which we can hear on "Spill the Blood". Specifically, for the first time in Slayer history, we encounter a series of arpeggios (picked rather than strummed chords, with clean tone). The type of arrangement found here would serve as a blueprint for perhaps their finest song to date, "Seasons In the Abyss".

Conclusion: South of Heaven is a must have for everyone's Slayer collection, and one of the two perfect starting points for those who are looking to experience them for the first time.


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