47. Slayer, 'South of Heaven' (1988)
After Reign in Blood marked them as the fastest, most fearsomely furious band in thrash, the question facing Slayer was, "What next?" "We knew we couldn't top Reign in Blood, so we had to slow down," guitarist Jeff Hanneman recalled to Decibel. "We knew whatever we did was gonna be compared to that album, and I remember we actually discussed slowing down. It was weird – we've never done that on an album, before or since." It definitely was slower. Even when the title track shifts into double-time, its tempo seems a comfortable trot compared to the double-kick fury that was Reign in Blood's "Angel of Death." Yet the stately, sitar-like riff that opens the song is more ominously creepy than anything on its predecessor, and there's something memorably morbid about the harmonized, twin-guitar hook that opens "Mandatory Suicide." This was where Slayer proved that it was the writing, not just the band's speed and stamina, that made its music matter. That the slower tempos gave Hanneman and fellow guitarist Kerry King a platform for more varied and expressive solos was just icing on the cake. J.D.C.