I first heard ‘South of Heaven’ somewhere around 2002 and, like most of my most significant music discoveries, it came to me via the college radio station where I volunteered, WUOG in Athens, Ga. One late-night DJ had an affinity for ridiculously over-the-top power metal like Blind Guardian and Rhapsody and willfully ignored the then-burgeoning, slow-moving post-metal scene stemming from Isis and . But one night, the opening clarion call to “South of Heaven” rang from my dorm room, sounding like one of the records I’d listened to in a year-long classical phase as a kid. On top of it squealed harmonics that bent like hot iron, ponderous and foreboding. I barely let the song reach the chorus before I called the station.
'WHAT. IS. THIS?'
'It's Slayer.' Click. The exasperated expletive was implied.
— Lars Gotrich on the late Jeff Hanneman, the Slayer guitarist who channeled darkness into the sound of a band that exemplifies pain