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With 1986's REIGN IN BLOOD, Slayer reached the pinnacle of its rapid-fire, speed metal style. For the band's next effort, instead of embracing its hardcore roots even further, the band retraced its metal influences, namely Black Sabbath. 1988's SOUTH OF HEAVEN surprised many fans because it contained several mid-paced, dirge-like compositions that spotlighted metal's crunch over punk's reckless energy. Tom Araya's lyrics still addressed controversial subjects, while another piece of gruesome artwork graced the album's cover. Despite it all, Slayer's ardent following embraced the album, eventually propelling SOUTH OF HEAVEN to gold-certification in the U.S.
The twin-guitar team of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman is again well equipped with an arsenal of killer riffs, while drummer Dave Lombardo shows why many consider him to be one of metal's all-time best. In the past, Araya penned lyrics that dealt with such controversial topics as Nazism (REIGN IN BLOOD's "Angel of Death") and serial killers (SEASONS IN THE ABYSS's "Dead Skin Mask"). Araya continues the trend on SOUTH OF HEAVEN with "Silent Scream," a track about abortion. Other gory tracks include the grinding title track, "Mandatory Suicide," and a cover of Judas Priest's "Dissident Aggressor."