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Amazing - 95%

noinnocentvictim, January 19th, 2006

This album isn't exactly "heavy," nor is it "lightning fast," like one would have expected. It's unusual for Slayer, but also equally unusual for me to be reviewing this album. However, I am a strong supporter of this album for anyone who enjoys metal. A track-by-track review would be helpful here, so that you could pick out the song to begin with, but I simply don't believe that would do the album justice. This album is best viewed as an anthem - not just a collection of songs. Different melodies, different beats, but a common artistic motif.

For starters, the drums run at a moderate pace, and are somewhere in the production. You can hear them clearly, but at the same time they're not in the foreground, nor in the background. They carry the album along smoothly, and there's a clever usage of the toms here, played in succession for fills that are appropriately and precisely placed, giving the illusion of speed. The cymbals aren't excessive, and are saved for effect. The drums aren't constantly fills, thankfully. It's easy to follow, and often mimics the voice of the guitars, giving proper emphasis where appropriate.

The guitars speak for themselves, playing memorable melodies, such as the opener to the title track "South of Heaven," which is unforgettable. These melodies are never heavy, and are never exaggerated. They're well played, expressing emotions properly, and, as is expected in metal, are the focal point of the songs. The bass is picked out by some, but I never find myself especially interested by it, nor able to find it in any songs. I probably wouldn't know if bands had bassists unless people told me, in most cases. Some might find the bass lines to be nice, though. I'm not one of them, however.

The vocals are discernable, unlike in most metal. I find it appropriate here, as heaviness is in no way emphasized. They don't sound too angry, yet express hatred accurately, as I would imagine was the goal here. The vocals aren't quite monotone, but border on it, so it's similar to the bass's purpose after looking through the tabs - follow the guitars.

All in all, this album is definitely worth checking out.