Saturday, February 9, 2013

February 9th, 2013 - South Of Ruthless!

Hey there fellow brew and tune fans!  The Meista here with a pairing of shear bitter aggression!  Tonight I'm pairing a Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA with the thrashing monstrosity that is Slayer and their 1988 masterpiece, "South Of Heaven."   This pairing goes out to my good friend Stephanie Krusell!!  Cheers sister!!!

Produced by Rick Rubin, "South Of Heaven" is Slayer's fourth studio album and a bit of a musical shift for the band.  Rubin had convinced the band to slow down the tempo to "contrast the aggressive assault put forth" on their previous album, "Reign In Blood."  According to Hanneman, "We knew we couldn't top "Reign In Blood," so we had to slow down. 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."  They also employed undistorted guitars, pick work on the bass, and toned-down vocals for the first time to create a more precise, yet subdued sound with a doom-like feel.  But make no mistake, although it may not be as fast as "Reign In Blood," "South Of Heaven" is as heavy as hell itself!  Bassist and vocalist Tom Araya is amazing!  Moving away from his high-pitched screams on earlier albums, with "South Of Heaven" Araya seems to channel doom metal singers of the '70s.  Guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman are superb!  Although King has publicly criticized his work on this album, I find it is wonderfully complex, precise, and crisp.  And drummer Dave Lombardo brings the hammer down!  His drumming is powerful, fast, intricate, and tribal.  Opening with the Sabbath-esque title track (and probably my favorite from the band), "South Of Heaven," Slayer weaves a richly complex and intense thrash tapestry.  Each song is metal perfection, incredibly heavy, musically tight, and smart.  "Behind The Crooked Cross" and "Read Between The Lines" take an intensely critical look at religion.  "Silent Scream" is a haunting and furious speedster.  "Live Undead" asks the question "what if you could feel and think after death?"  "Mandatory Suicide" and "Ghosts Of War" examine the horror of combat.  "Cleanse The Soul" takes a stab at the dark arts and ritualistic murder.  This album also includes the only cover of Judas Priest's "Dissident Aggressor" from their 1977 album, "Sin After Sin" (once reviewed here on Brews and Tunes!)  Of "Dissident Aggressor," Hanneman stated they picked it to cover because of its war-themed lyrics and because it was, "more just like one of those odd songs that a lot of people didn't know, but it was a favorite of Kerry and I, so we just picked that one."  The album ends with the fist-pumping, head-banging classic "Spill The Blood."  I cannot believe this album is 25 years old!  It still sounds as fresh and innovative as the day it came out!

I think this may be the only time I've done this on the page, but I'm pairing a beer I've paired before... the Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA.  I picked this beer specifically for "South of Heaven" due to the beer's aggressive bite, but complex peppery aftertaste.  In all honesty, I'm not sure if any beer can do this album justice, but the Ruthless comes damn close!  I probably could have gone with a bigger IPA, a double perhaps, but I think anything bigger would be too much... a sensory overload.  The Ruthless Rye IPA goes down easy, which is great for the speed of a thrash album.  With the 6.6% ABV it still delivers a nice, heavy metal kick!  It pours a deep, copper-red amber with a thick, mashpotato head, lumpy and creamy with strong, sustained and layered lacing... like a frothy ladder as you drink it down.  The nose is floral, sweet, and citrusy with an ever-so subtle hint of spice.  Brewed with rustic grains and whole-cone hops, the Ruthless Rye IPA is a complex and well-balanced ale with a wonderful bitter kick from both the citrusy and piney hops and the peppery rye.  There's a very mellow and almost hidden toffee note in the background as well.  But what really stands out with this beer is the interplay between the rye and the hops... fantastically complex!  And speaking of fantastically complex... I'm thinking of a band... SLAYER!!!

Alright, have a good night my friends!  Until next time, I raise my glass to you all!!  Be well and rock on!!

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