About Us

There is a good chance you found us accidentally by using the word “taint” in your search (If you found us on purpose, you deserve our accolades). Of course we don’t know what you were looking for, but you stumbled on a damn cool project. Look around; let us help send you on a musical journey. Here you will find a number of album reviews from the strange and extreme to the tame and mainstream. Our reviewers are a bunch of obsessive miscreants. Most of us are avid music collectors and have been involved in the music world for decades. A couple of us have been in or are still in bands.

There are no rules on Tickle Your Taint Blog. Our reviewers might make you laugh, or piss you off; both results are legitimate. One reviewer might write a glowing review of an album another might tear it apart. We may end up adopting a single review system, such as five stars, or each reviewer may use his own or none at all. We may have a new review every week or we could end up with one every six months. This blog exists as a social experiment to build community among a diverse group of music maniacs – our reviewers and hopefully you. Pull down your knickers, lube up and join us in tickling yours and our taints.

If you are in a band, have released a physical (rather than an MP3) CD or record, and would like us to review your efforts, contact us at tickleyourtaint@yahoo.com

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dan Sartain - Lives (One Little Indian, 2010)

By Anita Papsmear

My first introduction to Dan Sartain (pronounced “Sar”: as in, “I have SARS,” and “tain”: as in, “I am not sane”) was hearing the song “Ruby Carroll” on the local college station. I immediately googled, then iTunes’d “Lives,” his third commercial release. I wasn’t disappointed – the rest of the disc was great. Instantly familiar, it’s a stripped-down, indie-rockabilly gem with a clash of uber-cool influences coming together to form one of the best releases of 2010. At times, reminiscent of Chris Isaak’s early work, of which, Dan gives a nod to Isaak with a fab cover of Chris’s “Voodoo.” It’s organic with nothing over-produced, sometimes wandering into a muddier Stooges’s flavor that instantly feels like home. This CD may get overlooked, but it truly should be sought out. Dan is a multi-talented musician – do not be too fooled by his thin, full-lipped good looks. His lyrics are direct and smart and he sits on the fence between ‘street cool cred’ and ‘should be huge.’ Check out “Ruby Carroll” (track 7) first. Then, go to track one and press ‘play.’ Short, catchy, well manicured pop-a-billy hits. The disc also contains some remixes, which are well worth it.

“Lives” is a 15 song (including remixes) extravaganza that would be a perfect soundtrack to your graphic novel.

Some fav track notes:

#2. A Gary Glitter inspired drum beat – catchy as anything – without the Glitter child porn to go with it.
“Don’t mess around, I’ll call the whole gang”

#3. Originally produced and released by Jack White thru Third Man Records. Pure pop perfection.

#4. A light-hearted jangle possessing a definite rock-a-billy heart, tinged with a bit of Siouxsie/Cure charm; it lures you into its musical web.

#5. With a flair toward Ennio Morricone – this one’s pretty great.
“Well I found out, what it meant
To really earn a dollar, and to scream instead of holler
And to lead instead of follow
And I found out, they were right
The man who'll rob your eyes to see
And it's all in front of me
And the truth won't set you free
Well I found out, what it meant
To walk among the cobras and, to really be alone
Well I found out, what it's worth
For a girl to say 'I love you' and 'God bless the stars above you'”

#6. Just try to google the lyrics to this song; every site I could find has the lyrics for “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” by Steely Dan, circa 1974. Weird…

#7. It’s a masterpiece!

#8. Instant hit!! A bit of a guitar snake charmer that looks at god, the devil and other options – great.
“We die, I know
and we all must go…
but to heaven, or hell
don’t you speak about god at my funeral
c’mon to my atheist funeral”

#14. Mix of track 6, muddy and great.

On another note – check out Dan Sartain’s myspace page – there’s a great :58 second tune called, “Fuck Friday, Fuck Saturday, Fuck Sunday (Fuck You)”.

5 out of 5 smears! Faithfully submitted by Anita Papsmear

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Slayer – South of Heaven

A collective review by the folks at Tickle Your Taint

To try something new, we selected an album and asked each of our taint ticklers to review a song on Slayer’s South of Heaven.

“South of Heaven

Reviewed by Null

South of Heaven is not only the name of Slayer’s legendary 1988 release but it is also the name of the opening track on the album. So I’m thinking, it better be good…of course, it kicks ass. I am not, nor have I ever been a Slayer fan. I do, however, understand how and why people may love their bloody ways. Just knowing Slayer is in the world makes the universe a little more complete, even if they only exist to keep born-again parents shaking in their Sunday shoes. The album South of Heaven has a couple of songs with really great lyrics—which you will read about shortly—but the opening track is filled with your typical description of hell-type stuff. “Jesus has come again…judgment day…the black soul of hate that waited for eternity to claim his rightful kingdom of hell…lust…yadda yadda yadda” I mean it kind of sounds cool but it is no “Behind the Crooked Cross” or “Read Between the Lines.” However, I must say that whenever I listen to this track my favorite verse is,

Bastard sons beget your cunting daughters,

Promiscuous mothers with your incestuous fathers.

Engreat souls condemned for all eternity,

Sustained by immoral observance a domineering deity.

Jesus, I mean I don’t know about all this anymore…it is a linguistic labyrinth…is the noun cunt turned into an action verb here? What the hell is cunting? Hunting with a vagina? It can be used as a gerund, i.e., “Cunting is fun on Sundays.” Furthermore, I don’t even think engreat is a word. Maybe it is? But hey, poets have always made up their own words.

The music. The music…the music of the first track is totally cunting. It is probably my favorite track on the record because it is one of the few tracks that has a…dare I say it…ethereal quality, in that the guitars sing eerily at the beginning as the song slowly builds. It doesn’t sound like Enya. This dramatic affect plays out beautifully until the band reaches a nice mid-tempo riff rock. Slowly one rocks back and forth like a doomed ship rocking on the red seas bound for hell, the music speeds up as the wind shifts directions and the water turns red, only to calm and slow again. Finally, the solo comes, which is a little less obnoxious than some of the seemingly meaningless noodling that appears in the [insert solo here] section of each track. But damn…that first song is great.

I don’t think I could ever truly embrace Slayer. I love their hatred of the lies and bullshit religious institutions spread across the world; I just fear that over time they may end up spouting war anthems with the best of the priests. Also, their album covers scare me.

“Silent Scream”

Reviewed by Jimmy “Explosive Diarhea” B.

In 1988, I had a poster of Slayer on my bedroom door. The boys were standing over a scantily clad female with blood running down their faces and chests. The model had bite marks all over her. Believe it or not my father thought Slayer was some kind of motorcycle club—a cannibalistic biker gang?

Clearly my dad had no idea what heavy metal was or why his only son might be interested in it. I think he was a little worried about me after he realized Slayer was a rock band. Thankfully he never stumbled upon my Mentors or King Diamond records; I don’t know how I would have explained those.

Slayer in ’88 was fucking intense. There were other bands doing intense shit, but only Slayer put together competent musicianship, brutal music, evil imagery, and lyrics that spoke directly to alienated youths. Check out this lyrical selection from “Silent Scream,” “Guidance, it means nothing in a world of brutal time…Pain, sufferaged toyed, life’s little fragments destroyed...Crucify the bastard son, beaten and torn, sanctify lives of scorn.” Tom Araya was not intentionally writing about teenage angst, but the song is clearly about feelings of powerlessness and distrust.

“Silent Scream” is not the best song on South of Heaven, but it is rock fucking solid. The lyrics are chilling, and the guitar riffs in the song are cool as shit. And how can anyone who likes speed not throw two horns in the air in celebration of Dave Lombardo. Those are some fast fucking fills.

I am going to rate “Silent Scream” based on the rest of the record. I believe “Silent Scream” is one of the top four best songs on the album, and I tickled my taint for 7 minutes.

“Live Undead”

Reviewed by Dave

Today I’m reviewing an often overlooked track from Slayer’s South of Heaven “Live Undead.” Lyrically it is pretty straightforward. The song chronicles the physical and psychological process that Tom Araya imagines a person would go through as they are transformed into a zombie. Pretty cool stuff in my book. Comparatively the song is pretty stripped down and straightforward for Slayer.

The song starts off in classic form with a very memorable guitar riff, big chords with a little bit of a twist punctuated by monster toms courtesy of one of the thrash masters Dave Lombardo. It transitions quickly into a solid mid-tempo groove with the guitars working through a relentless single note riff and the drums hanging back which creates a very creepy tension dynamically. Tom starts into a dark description of the human body transforming into a cold diabolically driven automaton. As the first verse ends one of the guitar players rips into a manic, yet short lead run. The second verse continues in the same vain with the drums slowly starting to pickup with double bass. One of my favorite elements of the song is the slow build up of intensity and well placed tempo changes. Being a hardcore punk/thrash guy my favorite part of the song comes in the last minute when Lombardo kicks into overdrive and the rest of the band follows in classic Slayer form. I imagine things start getting ugly in the mosh pit!

Overall I’m kinda on the fence with this track. On the one hand I like the fact that the lyrics are clearly audible and overall it is a very focused, tightly written tune. On the other hand, one of my favorite elements of the more extreme thrash and death metal bands is the overall complexity of the compositions with mind bending guitar solos, musically engaging musical bridges, and flashy transitions between verses. The guitar playing on this song is very straightforward, which leaves room for other elements of the song, but people aren’t listening to Slayer for Tom Araya’s amazing vocal range. It is a bit different but I’m not the biggest fan of most of this album overall, I think these guys have always been at their best when they are setting a frantic pace in which the song sounds like it is about to come apart.

“Behind the Crooked Cross”

Reviewed by SoDak

Like most Slayer fans—or so it seems—I think Reign in Blood is an awesome record. I saved my lunch money to buy it on cassette when it was released in 1986. The record was unbelievably intense. It was definitely more brutal, musically, than their previous releases. The production was much better. The entire record was repeated on each side of the tape. I listened to that record constantly for a couple months. Each time I pushed play, “Angel of Death” kicked my ass. It still does. And it still disturbs me given the horrific subject, which also seems to go with much of the Slayer gimmick, regardless of which record it is. Truthfully, I do not expect much from Slayer as far as lyrics are concerned. In spite of how great that record is, I have to admit that I instantly fell in love with South of Heaven. Yes, it was different than Reign in Blood—longer songs that are “slower.” But it is still a classic, from the first notes until the end of the record. The fourth song, “Behind the Crooked Cross” is three minutes and fourteen seconds of pure head-banging power. One guitar starts with the chugging riff as the other joins it just before the pounding drum builds, only to set a steady mid-tempo beat, which picks up when the vocals enter: “Time melts away in this living inferno. Trapped by a cause that I once understood. Feeling a sickness building inside of me. Who will I really have to answer to.” As is the norm, the lyrics paint a disturbing picture of “blind obedience” to those with power, who use violence to impose their will. Quickly the song moves from the first verse into the chorus: “March on through the rivers of red. Souls drift, they fill the air. Forced to fight, behind, the crooked cross.” Of course, when this song is played live, the crowd raises the devil horns, following the cadence of the song. (At one of their concerts, I was surrounded by hundreds of fans singing along to every line of every song. I realized then that I liked Slayer, but I was not obsessed with Slayer. There seems to be a difference here.) The next verse speaks of the loss of humanity, before heading back into the chorus. As is norm, the trademark guitar solos of Slayer tear into the song, as Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King trade leads for approximately forty-five seconds. Just when your skin starts to melt, the band is back into the verse, setting up the final chorus. “Behind the Crooked Cross” remains one of my favorite songs on this record. I often like to listen to this song, followed by “Spirit in Black” on Seasons in the Abyss. Together they give me my metal fix on days when I need a little extra energy.

“Mandatory Suicide”

Reviewed by Plain Zero

I always like when a big name band comes to town for a show and their “fans” download or buy the band’s entire catalog so they can sing along at the concert. Not too long ago I was at a record store where I witnessed a Slayer “fan” going through the Slayer section. I thought to myself that maybe this guy knows metal so I struck up a conversation. To my dismay he was only looking for Reign in Blood for “Angel of Death” and knew shit about metal. I also know someone who claims he could listen to Reign in Blood five thousand times in a row because “it is his favorite album.” When asked about songs other than “Angel of Death” or “Raining Blood,” I got a glazed over stare. What is it about Reign in Blood that it is the only Slayer album that an average Joe knows about? I am not saying Reign in Blood isn’t good, but what about Haunting the Chapel, Show No Mercy, Seasons of the Abyss, or even South of Heaven?

If you ask me which Slayer release is my favorite, my answer hands down is South of Heaven. South of Heaven for me has more memorable songs and was every bit as heavy as its previous releases. The first song I think of when said album is mentioned is “Mandatory Suicide.”

When South of Heaven came out in 1988 all I cared about was that it was Slayer. Without a doubt I knew it would be heavy and fast. Why “Mandatory Suicide” was my favorite song was simply for the catchy spoken word, double bass drums, and guitars at the end.

The last time I saw Slayer they played “Mandatory Suicide” and ruined the song for me. How? Tom Araya sang the spoken word part. Is singing the spoken word part really fucking necessary Tom?

After Seasons of the Abyss I gave up on Slayer and moved on to other bands and genres of music. I had to knock the dust off of my cassette tape to listen to this album again. For me South of Heaven as a whole hasn’t stood the test of time. I still contend “Mandatory Suicide” is the best song on the album. Aside from the ending, the song is solid in every aspect. In this case less is more.

I am giving “Mandatory Suicide” three ratings. The rating is on a boring scale of 1 to 5. For 1988 I give it a 7. For the live performance I give it a Tom Araya owes me $15 for the ticket. For today’s standard a meh, I’m going to listen to Rotting Christ.

“Ghosts of War”

Reviewed by Jimmy “Explosive Diarrhea” B.

Z Magazine used to have a section on their website where readers could post lyrics to lefty political songs. Several years ago there were so many Slayer songs listed that the administrator requested that no more Slayer songs be posted. Slayer is a band that changes their lyrical content every now and then. In the early years they used a lot of satanic imagery that appealed to kids like me that wanted nothing to do with their parents’ Christianity. In college I went to hear a preacher speak who had followed Slayer around for a year. I expected him to launch into a description of the dangers posed by these evil men. Instead he talked about how nice they were and how accommodating they were of his views and presence. Next Slayer turned to Nazi imagery; I never understood whom they were targeting with these songs. The next stage in Slayer’s development was politics, but this interest in politics was as empty as their hellish image. After the attacks on the World Trade Center, Slayer drenched their stage show with red, white, and blue. I also remember hearing an interview with one of the band members who mentioned that he intended to vote for Bush in the 2004 election. What the fuck do these guys stand for?

The song “Ghosts of War” does not help us decipher Slayer’s ideological position. The gist of the song is that a bunch of dead soldiers unsatisfied with the result(s) of war(s), in which they fought, rise from the dead to finish either that job or some current or future conflict—in true Slayer fashion it isn’t immediately obvious what the fuck they are getting at. How did the souls of the dead soldiers come to life? Why did they feel the need to come back and inflict pain on others? Who are the others? There is so much unsaid in this silly fucking song. Musically, the song is rather crappy compared to others on the record. When I think Slayer, monster riffing comes to mind. Not so with “Ghosts of War.” The riffs and solos are ordinary and dull. “Ghosts of War” is a dud.

This song, when compared to the others on the record, earns a five out of ten.

“Read Between the Lies”

Reviewed by Kloghole

Slayer is, well, Slayer. Slayer became a solid staple in my life when I lived in a house that was known as “The Jungle.” Five hard drinking roommates became the center of metal debauchery and provided a polo shirt-free alternative to the frat houses. Aside from the frequent heavy-metal house parties, we spent our days finishing leftover half-barrels and playing beer-can baseball in the living room. I had the distinction of placing a nearly perfect beer-can-sized circular hole in one of our windows. I have still yet to figure out the physics on that one. We hosted quite a few folks over that year, and on one occasion had over 500 of our closest friends over for an Oktoberfest party. I supplied the music and piped it through the first floor. Even when parties were not raging, we blasted the most ear-damaging racket we could find, judging by the police visits. On one occasion, we cranked the 1812 Overture to the amusement and applause of the neighbors across the street. Once finished with the Overture, we switched to AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” at the stroke of midnight. We barely finished the bell-ringing intro before the police arrived at our door explaining that they could hear our music two blocks over and three blocks up. Hmmm, 45 minutes of Tchaikovsky and 90 seconds of AC/DC. Would that be considered a lackadaisical response or a prompt one? In between noise violation citations, Slayer was one of the more popular musical selections, and my roommate, a rather big, energetic fellow, would dance about and scream, “Angel of Death” at the top of his lungs. Ah, the good old days!

While Reign in Blood is clearly a devastatingly brutal piece of art, South of Heaven does keep up the pace and provides the fertile soil for these song reviews. The song I am to review, “Read Between the Lies,” is one of a slew of songs in the mid to late 1980s about religious nutjobs, like Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker, who engaged in debauchery while bilking their gullible flock out of their life savings. Ozzy did “Miracle Man.” Iron Maiden offered up “Holy Smoke.” For Slayer, their contribution was “Read Between the Lies.” While not one of the hardest hitting songs on the album, it does take a swipe at the hypocrisy inherent in televangelism. The song is not ambiguous at all when it begins, “Evangelist you claim god speaks through you, Your restless mouth full of lies gains popularity. You care not for the old that suffer, When empty pockets cry from hunger.”

But televangelism is only a symptom of a broader problem—dogmatic religious conviction in general. Televangelism preys on the certainty of uncertainty. People are so desperate to reserve their space in the great beyond that they are willing to do nearly anything to secure it, including believing a loathsome pervert and throwing their money away. This unwavering support of a mixture of fantasy, mythology, and simply bad historical accounts is understandable in an intellectual sense. Karl Marx stated, “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” Religious fanaticism and devotion are certain to abound given the brutal conditions facing people, especially in times like these where unemployment, economic insecurity and general dissatisfaction abound. People seek out a relief to the pain that they feel, and since capitalist society only offers commodities or paradise after death, those who cannot afford the trinkets in life must hope for golden rewards, everlasting life, or a chance to hump virgins in the next life. However, this unquestioning dedication to an illusory world can be categorized. While most would be loathe to admit it, it is easily classifiable as a “Psychotic Disorder.” The DSM-IV states, “Psychotic Disorders (including Schizophrenia): Common Characteristics: The major symptom of these disorders is psychosis, or delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are false beliefs that significantly hinder a person’s ability to function.”

When I say psychotic disorder with respect to religion, I am not limiting it to the poor fools who follow the televangelist vampires. Religion in virtually all its forms significantly hinders a person’s ability to function and is, therefore, a psychotic disorder. People cannot think clearly. A simple survey of the beliefs of the major religions is enough to demonstrate the delusional nature of religion. This is why it is so easy for one religion to insult and demean another (I do not even need to mention the absurdities for you to repeat them, especially if you do not ascribe to them). Beyond their core beliefs, they believe fantastical phenomena such as an entity that took the time to populate the earth with mosquitoes and flesh eating bacteria or that their dedication to a particular entity can guide a football from a quarterback’s hand to a receiver’s grasp. This psychotic disorder possesses people to stand outside a dead man’s funeral to taunt the family, bomb health clinics, and vote for people that will impoverish them. The fact that we do not lock these poor ignorant fools away, let alone tolerate this behavior, astonishes me. Religious conviction is a psychotic disorder, but unfortunately, the insane far outnumber the sane in this loony bin we call Earth.

Returning to the song, one other line in “Read Between the Lies” catches my attention, “There is no heaven without a hell.” Deeply religious folks always want to portray what they oppose as evil. I find this both strange and disturbing. First, their own god, creator of everything, is the sick, twisted fuck that created evil, so if you are going to be incensed at anyone, I would think you have to go back to the source. The evil wouldn’t be there if your god didn’t create it in the first place. Remember … omnipotent! Why would such a benevolent being be so sadistic, and why would you worship such a sadistic freak? Second, this good vs. evil mentality leads folks to close themselves off for fear of being polluted. Having been brainwashed into believing certain things are evil, they cannot even risk contemplating them for fear of being corrupted. To be exposed to ideas, lifestyles, or even reality is traumatizing for the truly deluded. This frightens me because there is no way to communicate with someone who is so thoroughly delusional.

Slayer’s song reminds me that I am the sane one locked in with the loonies. Breaking through this lunacy is nearly impossible when so many share the same delusion. Because it is a delusion, it is made even stronger by the fact that contradictory beliefs can be held without question. Rich people can smugly assert that they are rich because they are blessed by some powerful apparition, while poor people mollify themselves with the conviction that their rewards for a miserable existence are conveniently waiting for them in a paradise after they die. Either way, everyone should be happy with the way things are according to this twisted, delusional worldview (unless someone contradicts this worldview, then it is the responsibility of the devoted to smite the heathen, infidel, etc.). It is no wonder that the problems created by our current system of oppression are so hard to dislodge when these ideological delusions persist.

The song, “Read Between the Lies,” is lost in the seventh position on the album and does not immediately spring to mind when South of Heaven is mentioned. However, it is Slayer, and the song does not detract from the rest of a very strong album. While it is no “South of Heaven” or “Mandatory Suicide,” it does a relatively good job of holding its place in the latter half of the album, and for this, it gets one sweet sticky ball. “Read Between the Lines” really only scratches the surface when it comes to the problem of religion. In this respect, it really does not tackle the problem of religion head-on. For this, you should refer to God Hates Us All. In fact, why don’t you go listen to that album right now? No, seriously, I fucking mean it. Put that fuckin’ cd on and crank the son-of-a-bitch. It should cheer you up a bit.

Sweet Dreams Motherfuckers

“Cleanse the Soul”

Reviewed by Anita Papsmear

Admittedly, I have never really liked Slayer, but then, Slayer has never really liked me. If they did like me, they would care enough not to make me listen to their insidious primal screaming. This song, layered over masturbatory guitar scales (I use masturbatory a lot when it comes to describing guitar solos/work—it really fits) is exhausting to get through. Although it sounds remarkably tame compared to some of today’s cookie monster rock that’s being regurgitated out of unhappy people’s sphincters, lyrically, it appears to be a written play-by-play of an old Boris Karloff film. I find this type of music to be fairly empty and insincere. I give it a smear, but I wouldn’t put this anywhere near my vagina.

“Dissident Aggressor”

Review by Class Warrior

For those of you who don’t know, this is a cover version of a Judas Priest song from their monumental 1977 album Sin after Sin. At the time, this song was about as heavy as anything ever recorded. Only a few others could compare, but none topped it, as far as I know.

I started to write a bunch of stuff about my theories of cover songs, but I decided to scrap it. Who cares, right? The salient questions are: a) does the song rock? b) does the song rock as hard or harder than the original? Let’s take the second concern first. The answer clearly is no, but it’s an unfair question. The Priest version of this song is a stone-cold metal classic. The twin guitars crush Rob’s nuts with such might that he calls forth unearthly screams and howls. Tom Araya could not hope to duplicate Halford’s wails, and wisely does not try. Instead, he sings the verses in a monotone, then proceeds to change the words of the chorus (stab! bawl! punch! crawl! in the original) to stab! fight!. Both the vocals and the lyric changes are kind of annoying.

Does the song rock when placed in Slayer’s hands? Umm, I guess so. I’d much rather listen to the Priest version. It has the true fire of Hell behind it.

“Spill the Blood”

Reviews by Scott

I’m not a Slayer fan. Don’t get me wrong—I like Slayer. But I think there are four types of people in the world. There are people who have never heard Slayer, people who have and don’t like them, people who have and do like them, and Slayer Fans. People who like Slayer listen to them from time to time; maybe they go to Slayer concerts or wear Slayer t-shirts. Slayer Fans, on the other hand, carve SLAYER into their forearms. They go to random metal shows and scream SLAYER as loud as they can for as long as they can regardless of who’s on stage. When a Slayer Fan’s mom pokes her head into the basement and tells Slayer Fan to turn it down, Slayer Fan will tell her to shut the fuck up and then turn off the stereo and leave the house and go duct tape firecrackers to a cat. I have no evidence for this, but it’s my impression that Slayer Fans are also more likely to be white supremacists.

So I’m not sure what Slayer Fans think of South of Heaven, or its closing track “Spill the Blood.” It’s one of Slayer’s classic albums for sure, but a slight departure from the consistently fast and aggressive sound of previous albums. On the whole, the songs on South of Heaven are slower and occasionally more melodic than what the band was doing before. And “Spill the Blood” is totally representative of this shift, maybe more so than the preceding tracks. It’s like the band is easing into their new sound over the course of the album and are ready to embrace it by the final song. Not that this is an extreme shift—everything still sounds like Slayer, and there are plenty of slower or more melodic moments on other albums. But the tempos are slower overall and the style has changed just a bit (it’s not unlike the shift in Metallica’s sound that you hear on…And Justice for All, which was released the same year as South of Heaven).

“Spill the Blood” begins with a clean guitar intro that pretty much sums up the Slayer vibe for me—dark, kind of spooky, slightly ornate but with a rock-solid foundation. It is the sort of music you can imagine drifting out of that demonic cathedral on the album cover. Then come the volume swells, the cymbal flourishes, and a great big drum fill that brings in the distorted guitars, and it’s like bang, that’s satan kicking open the cathedral door and coming out to welcome you to hell—or maybe it’s the genuinely scary Kerry King. Then comes the kind of dual-lead riff that Slayer is just so fucking good at writing: lyrical, a little harmonized, and picked with a weird sort of precision that makes it sound sharp as a blade.

The song keeps it at mid-tempo with the drums pulling everything forward, hitting the ones and the threes on the verse and making it pretty much impossible not to nod your hear. Tom Araya is at his most vocally melodic here: instead of the classic Slayer shout, he’s doing this sort of fatigued singing where his voice wavers and drops out a bit at the end of each line. Even during the choruses he keeps it subdued, aside from a moment right at the end. Lyrically, Slayer runs the gamut from genuinely intriguing to dumb, and the lyrics to “Spill the Blood” are nothing to get excited over. But they serve the song and the mood well. This is a fine end to a great fucking album—a Slayer song to chill out to, if there could be such a thing—and a real treasure from the later era of classic thrash.