It’s with mixed emotions that we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of SLAYER‘s classic fourth album, South Of Heaven, which was released on July 5, 1988. It’s been just over two months since the passing of Jeff Hanneman, whose handiwork is all over the masterpiece, the guitar legend wrote the music for the entire album (three with Kerry King) aside from the JUDAS PRIEST cover of ‘Dissident Aggressor’. To this day the glorious title track which smashes into ‘Silent Scream’, ‘Mandatory Suicide’, ‘Live Undead’, ‘Ghosts Of War’ and the haunting closer ‘Spill The Blood’ are timeless classics that will endure forever.
But how does one follow-up what most people consider the greatest thrash album of all-time, Reign In Blood? The band certainly threw us for a loop with the first notes of the title track, a slow building bruiser with an infectious lead, possibly the band’s finest anthem aside from ‘Angel Of Death’. “Bastard sons begat your cunting daughters” … pure extreme metal poetry.
South Of Heaven – Slayer’s second collaboration with Rick Rubin – peaked at number 57 on the Billboard 200 album chart and on November 20, 1992, became the band’s second album to be certified gold in the US.
BraveWords asked guitarist Kerry King recently about how South Of Heaven has stood the test of time.
“Yeah, that’s always historically been not an album I hate,” King said, “but in between Reign In Blood and Seasons (In The Abyss), it’s my least favourite of the three. At the time, that’s one of the only times we went out of our way, before we wrote any songs, to say, ‘all right, I don’t want it to be like Reign In Blood.’ Not because Reign In Blood sucked or because we were tired of doing that, but because it was so fast we needed things to offset it with live. So we wanted to explore the heavier side of Slayer without having eighty-percent of it being light-speed.”
Here’s a toast to the Jeff Hanneman-driven South Of Heaven!