“Seasons in the Abyss” is the 5th studio album by American thrash metal band, Slayer. It was released in 1990 on Def American Recordings and produced by the band with Rick Rubin & Andy Wallace. The line-up for the album was Tom Araya (vocals/bass), Jeff Hanneman (guitar), Kerry King (guitar) and Dave Lombardo (drums).
With “Seasons in the Abyss”, Slayer moved away from certain lyrical content heard on their previous albums, not necessarily in a good way but not in a bad way either. The band had always done things a little different from the rest; “Show No Mercy” was raw aggressive thrash with a punk edge, its follow-up, “Hell Awaits”, was as demonic-sounding as the title suggests, and widely regarded as the heaviest thrash metal album ever, “Reign in Blood” blasts through 29 minutes of intense music that still stands the test of time today.
Fast forward to 1990, and “Seasons in the Abyss” rolls around. It’s safe to say the heyday of thrash metal, and indeed, heavy metal, had gone with the 1980s, and the sound on this album testifies to that. Right from the onset with “War Ensemble”, you know it’s Slayer, and you know it’s going to be a very heavy album. But as the success of the genre grew and technology developed, so did the production of studio albums… and this is where some fans have a problem with “Seasons in the Abyss”.
The quality of an album is important, but it’s important for a band to keep that magical sound it is associated with. Almost all of the songs on this album are breakneck heavy; “War Ensemble” has some of the most frantic guitar work I’ve ever heard, “Hallowed Point” could belong on “Reign in Blood” and Lombardo’s drumming on “Born of Fire” is on a par with the best he’s ever done.
There aren’t really any songs on “Seasons in the Abyss” which don’t belong. The title song is nothing short of a masterpiece. Slayer had dabbled with a slower song on “South of Heaven” with “Spill the Blood”, and with “Seasons in the Abyss” they make it work. It begins with a slow almost acoustic sound which rises into the opening verse, where it keeps the same tempo until the last few bars.
Although some are not fans of the ‘new’ Slayer production sound, “Seasons in the Abyss” is still one of the best Slayer albums. It was probably the last of the best, because nothing else seemed to be able to match it afterwards. If you want to listen to Slayer when the band was at its best, I would definitely recommend this album and any before it.
- War Ensemble
- Blood Red
- Spirit in Black
- Expendable Youth
- Dead Skin Mask
- Hallowed Point
- Skeletons of Society
- Born of Fire
- Seasons in the Abyss