By: Tony Leone
March 13, 2024

One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of metal records from the Eighties (1984–1993, in our periodization schema). Series edited by Heather Quinlan. Also check out our MÖSH YOUR ENTHUSIASM playlist at Spotify.



I’d like to believe I am a good person. As a youngster, I was quiet, I did my homework, and I largely kept out of trouble. I played with model tanks in a tidy house in a blue-collar neighborhood, and my brief foray in Catholic school instilled the message be a good human being.

By late middle school, I was an avid metal fan, graduating from bands like Priest and Maiden to the more aggressive sounds of Metallica. A friend lent me a tape of Slayer’s Hell Awaits — the cover art was terrifying and the guitar work sounded like chainsaws. Though I no longer followed the Catholic teachings of my youth, I immediately intuited that Slayer was further down in Dante’s Hell than the more mainstream metal of the day.

Over the following years, I merely dabbled in the brutal bludgeoning of Slayer’s subsequent masterpiece, Reign in Blood. Then in 1988, Slayer released South of Heaven. Within the first 40 seconds of listening to the title track, I was reborn. The tempo was slower, and guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman turned down the thrash — in order to make way for a creeping horror sound that was spellbinding.

And then came the lyrics. Tom Araya used the c-word in a way I had never heard before; he’d changed it from a noun into a verb! He’d made a sinister word even more sinister! “Bastard sons beget your cunting daughters, / Promiscuous mothers with your incestuous fathers. / Ingrate souls condemned for all eternity…” * This string of concepts was beyond the pale; there was a condemnation of humanity — the family unit — at its core. Was I tipping into some sort of abyss listening to this? Was I now evil?

As a righteously angry teen from a chaotic home, I knew first-hand that life could be unfair and cruel. For my like-minded peers and me, society was a favorite target. Slayer went even deeper, taking aim at humanity’s core — and emitting a primal scream of anger that echoed within me.

Today, I cynically observe a decadent world and humanity in trouble. While I still try to live as a good person, I find solace in Slayer and have accepted my fate as a lifelong metalhead. I’m a father, teaching my children to be good human beings… and I’ve introduced my teenage son to the world of metal. When we’re at shows, strangers approach us: “Glad to see you’re raising him right.” I smile and raise my beer, but not without pause.

Am I a harbinger of evil, or a warrior of righteousness? What is this world into which have I brought my son? Can we set the world straight by speaking truth to life’s darkest horrors? Or are we simply channeling our anger? Listening to “South of Heaven” I feel in control, a conqueror, un-fucking touchable, and yes… evil. I shout my inner rage, my anger… and echoing back to me, my utter lack of control over the cruelty in this world.

On and on, South of Heaven.

* Only much later would I discover that this is a reference to one of the Devil’s lines from The Exorcist.


MÖSH YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Heather Quinlan | Crockett Doob on Metallica’s ENTER SANDMAN | Dean Haspiel on Mötley Crüe’s HOME SWEET HOME | Jack Silbert on Poison’s TALK DIRTY TO ME | Adam McGovern on Dio’s INVISIBLE | Mariane Cara on Faith No More’s EPIC | Heather Quinlan on Blue Öyster Cult’s SHOOTING SHARK | Steve Schneider on UFO’s DIESEL IN THE DUST | Carlo Rotella on Primus’ JERRY WAS A RACE CAR DRIVER | Erik Davis on St. Vitus’ BORN TOO LATE | Greg Rowland on Motörhead’s ACE OF SPADES (remix) | Kathy Biehl on Twisted Sister’s WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT | Nikhil Singh on G.I.S.M.’s GAS BURNER PANIC | Erin M. Routson on Metallica’s ESCAPE | Holly Interlandi on Helmet’s MILQUETOAST | Marc Weidenbaum on Celtic Frost’s I WON’T DANCE (THE ELDERS’ ORIENT) | Amy Keyishian on Living Colour’s CULT OF PERSONALITY | Josh Glenn on Scorpions’ STILL LOVING YOU | Alycia Chillemi on Danzig’s SOUL ON FIRE | James Parker on Godflesh’s CHRISTBAIT RISING | Miranda Mellis on The Afflicted’s HERE COME THE COPS | Rene Rosa on Type O Negative’s BLACK NO. 1 | Tony Leone on Slayer’s SOUTH OF HEAVEN | Christopher Cannon on Neurosis’s LOST | Brian Berger on Black Sabbath’s HEADLESS CROSS | MÖSH CONTEST-WINNING ENTRY: Tony Pacitti on Metallica’s THE CALL OF KTULU. PLUS: CONTEST RUNNER-UP: James Scott Maloy on Accept’s MIDNIGHT MOVER.




Enthusiasms, Music