The younger fans might be shocked at this but us older more entrenched Metal folk are proud to raise a glass of whatever your drinking this evening to the fact that Slayer’s 1988 opus “South Of Heaven” has reached its quarter century mark. Okay, I will admit that it hits me with some awe as well because I am of the vintage where I remember this stuff being in the “new releases” section of the neighborhood record store. The album was slightly slower than its predecessor “Reign In Blood” and according to interview posts from the late great Jeff Hanneman, this had been done on purpose since the band knew that they could not compete with the previous albums ferocity or impact on the Metal scene of the time. Resultant of this slower pace, the album received widely mixed reviews with some long time fans embracing it and others putting it on the bottom of their Thrash Metal pile. Now I’ve often admitted to being a latecomer to the Slayer scene even though my friends would be blasting it whenever we all convened. I was more a Power Metal guy and supporting that growing scene than the now matured Thrash Metal one. Don’t worry, I have made up for lost time in some sense.
Of all the tracks on the release I would have to say that my own favorite remains the title track along with “Mandatory Suicide” and “Spill The Blood”. I was a diehard Judas Priest fan (still am actually) and did not enjoy the bands take on their classic tune from the “Sin After Sin” album. Sorry, sometimes a cover just doesn’t work for me as a listener. Of course in listening to “South Of Heaven” now as I penned these anniversary thoughts, I can see where some fans might have thought that their band had lost a lot of its edge. Yes the album was heavy as all get out but the speed was not there for most of the recording. To get slower paced songs on a new album after the absolute fury that was “Reign In Blood” and even its own predecessor “Hell Awaits” had to leave people scratching their heads. The novice still fan that was me would embrace the group a lot more with its “Seasons In The Abyss” album based on my own musical pursuits being in a much heavier band than I would have attempted at the time. I promise to do an anniversary post for “RIB” when it hits thirty years in 2016 if we are still online and not living the life of luxury on an island with servants okay. Here’s the track listing of the original release along with its songwriters. As you can see the late Jeff Hanneman had a hand in every single track. All the more reason to be sad about his passing away only a couple of months ago. I’m sure he would have loved to see one of his babies reach this age. Oh well.
1. South of Heaven (Tom Araya/Jeff Hanneman)
2. Silent Scream (Araya/Hanneman/Kerry King)
3. Live Undead (King/Araya/Hanneman)
4. Behind the Crooked Cross (Hanneman)
5. Mandatory Suicide (Araya/Hanneman/King)
6. Ghosts of War (King/Hanneman/King)
7. Read Between the Lies (King/Araya/Hanneman)
8. Cleanse the Soul (King/Araya/Hanneman)
9. Dissident Aggressor (Judas Priest cover) (Rob Halford/K.K. Downing/Glenn Tipton)
10. Spill the Blood (Hanneman)
I’m leaving the comments section open for you readers to let me know how important, or even how unimportant this particular Slayer release is to you as a fan of Metal. What do you remember most about it in terms of its effect on you, when you might have purchased or maybe even been turned onto it through a friend or a live show. That is what makes this kind of posting more fun – your input, so please bring it on. Wait a second now….what did you say? You DON’T own a copy of Slayer’s “South Of Heaven” yet? Oh my friend, you must remedy this immediately and here is a quick link to an Amazon.com purchase point for you to fix that problem.