Slayer fans were still enjoying and blasting the fastest neck hurting thrash record, likely at the time, entitled ‘Reign in Blood’ (1986) [my favorite track ‘Raining Blood’], however, a major switch started a different tempo, not quite slower but a new path for the next album ‘South of Heaven’, originally released on July 5, 1988. This effort established a masterpiece which showed the band take thrash metal to an international level and deliver a fierce musical lasting impression 30-years of generating interest.

While many fans found neither disappointment nor didn’t share the enjoyment of Slayer’s new path in metal, the band themselves understood, they couldn’t repeat the same performance of a 10-song, 29-minute ‘Reign in Blood’ without the worry of a letdown. The fans needed to look at in the terms of a sequel to their favorite horror flick, it’s usually never going to match that first thrill, as is with any activity. Best bet savor the moment, return to listen to that album at a different time, because at the time of this release the metal genre, started changing, and popularity waning, 3-years later Nirvana stormed through with the album Nevermind. Nevertheless, the metal fans wanted more of Slayer, the dedication of the fanbase, a show of theirs not for the weak.

Most know Slayer’s style and trademark of the intensity of feverish riffs, and that pounding of drums, intensely having fans pumping up the volume as high as possible. An early track called “Live Undead” starts incredible slow but halfway through everything ratchets up and harkens back to ‘Reign’ insanity pace. From this point songs such as “Silent Scream”, “Mandatory Suicide” a morbid track but filled with potent messages, while “Ghosts of War” often finds itself included in standard live sets of the band. In addition, wanting to have 10-track album they included a Judas Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor”.

Slayer’s lyrics started to change too, realizing some bands centered on political themes, horror movies, or just the Devil, they wanted to transcend those topics, and allow various topics to flow into the mind, such as greed, corruption and a few tracks on war, no crappy ballads here folks. Oh, and definitely no Yanni and Manilow! As I mentioned the track “Mandatory Suicide” ending often reminds one of Metallica’s masterpiece “One” from ‘…And Justice for All’ (released in August 1988) speaking of the horrors of war and commendation of it. Some righteous parent groups of the 1980s thought the Mandatory song, wanted the fans to kill themselves for Satan, once again these bullies (parents) judging from sound and cover, never listening to the band, or reading the lyrics. Very Ignorant!

Track Listing:

  1. South Of Heaven
  2. Silent Scream
  3. Live Undead
  4. Behind The Crooked Cross
  5. Mandatory Suicide
  6. Ghosts Of War
  7. Read Between The Lies
  8. Cleanse The Soul
  9. Dissident Aggressor [Judas Priest cover]
  10. Spill The Blood


“South of Heaven” remains a fan favorite, and over the years gained fans (even those who once dismissed it as a weaker album) and for myself, a dedicated Slayer fan their top three albums, 3. ‘South of Heaven’ (1988); 2. ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ (1990); 1. ‘Reign in Blood’ (1986). Since the release of this album many others gone on to do cover tracks of their music such as Ceremonial Castings to numerous tribute albums, either case their thrash metal continues to influence, and becomes a main staple for all fans’ collection.


Baron’s Rating: 4.5/5

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