Seasons in the Abyss is the fifth studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released on October 9, 1990 by Def American Records. Recording sessions began in March 1990 at Hit City West and Hollywood Sound, and ended in June 1990 at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, California. It was the band's last album to feature original drummer Dave Lombardo until 2006's Christ Illusion. Seasons in the Abyss' musical style has been compared by critics to the band's previous two albums South of Heaven (1988) and Reign in Blood (1986).
Upon its release, Seasons in the Abyss received a generally positive reception and peaked at number 40 on the US Billboard 200. It was later certified gold in the United States and Canada.
|Seasons in the Abyss|
|Studio album by Slayer|
|Released||October 9, 1990|
|Studio||Hit City West, Hollywood Sound, and Record Plant, Los Angeles, California|
The album was recorded from March to June 1990 in two separate studios: Hit City West, Hollywood Sound, and Record Plant in Los Angeles, California. Seasons in the Abyss was produced by Rick Rubin, who had also produced their previous two albums Reign in Blood and South of Heaven.
Track eight, "Temptation", featured an overdub of lead vocalist Tom Araya's singing; the vocal arrangement on the track was unintentional. Araya sang the song twice: once the way he felt it sounded best; the second time at the insistence of Kerry King the way he thought it should be sung. By accident both tracks were played back simultaneously, and the producer suggested that both vocal tracks should be used together on the final version.
According to Nathan Brackett, author of The Rolling Stone Album Guide, Seasons in the Abyss continued the band's sound as displayed in their first four albums. The songs on the album have complex guitar riffs that proceed at both "blinding speed" tempos and mid-tempo hefts. Brackett said that the songs' themes shy away from the "fantasy and into the hells here on Earth" and instead was "music to conquer nations by".
The album combines "grim" vocals and "frenetic" guitars. Blabbermouth.net said that the album is "considered to be among the genre's all-time classics". "War Ensemble", "Dead Skin Mask", and "Seasons In The Abyss" were described as setting the album's standard and the songs, according to the site, produced a sound that could not be matched by anyone else.
AllMusic said that it combines the mid-tempo grooves of South of Heaven with "manic bursts of aggression" à la Reign in Blood. Allmusic also said that when writing the album's lyrics, Slayer "rarely turns to demonic visions of the afterlife anymore, preferring instead to find tangible horror in real life—war, murder, [and] human weakness. There's even full-fledged social criticism, which should convince any doubters that Slayer aren't trying to promote the subjects they sing about."
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Slayer released Seasons in the Abyss on October 9, 1990, through Def American Records. Later that year it was released again through Warner Music Group. It was re-released in 1994 through American Recordings. Although it was "unwelcome" to music shows and rock–radio outlets, it got substantial airplay on MTV's now-defunct "Headbangers Ball". Seasons in the Abyss features Slayer's first music video, filmed at the Giza Plateau in Giza, Egypt .
The album received generally positive reviews by critics. AllMusic's Steve Huey said that it "brought back some of the pounding speed of Reign in Blood for their third major-label album", and addressed it to be "their most accessible album, displaying the full range of their abilities all in one place, with sharp, clean production". Huey later wrote that the album "paints Reagan-era America as a cesspool of corruption and cruelty, and the music is as devilishly effective as ever".
J. D. Considine noted about "War Ensemble": "it's not a pretty song by any means. An aural blitzkrieg whose chorus climaxes with the lines, 'The final swing is not a drill/It's how many people I can kill,' it is filled with brutal images and blaring guitars, all propelled at the breathless pace of thrash metal." Considine would later say that the album's music "so accurately sums up the controlled panic of combat that the Army itself has been using Slayer songs to psych its troops for military maneuvers in the Saudi desert". Mike Stagno from SputnikMusic said that the album was a well-received return by Slayer. Entertainment Weekly reviewer David Browne said that listening to Seasons in the Abyss was "like listening to a single speed-metal song—the world's longest". In 2017, it was ranked 31st on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".
The album peaked at number 40 on the Billboard 200 and number 18 on the UK Albums Chart. Seasons in the Abyss was certified gold in both the United States and Canada. The title track and "War Ensemble" earned Slayer its heaviest airplay on MTV to date. In an October 2007 interview, Evile frontman Matt Drake described Seasons in the Abyss as "the perfect mix" between the two styles ("speed" and "slow material") showcased on Reign in Blood and South of Heaven respectively. Children of Bodom bassist Henkka T. Blacksmith hailed Seasons in the Abyss as "the best metal album ever". The thrash/crossover supergroup S.O.D. released a single named "Seasoning the Obese" in tribute to the album.
|3.||"Spirit in Black"||King||Hanneman||4:07|
|5.||"Dead Skin Mask"||Araya||Hanneman||5:20|
|7.||"Skeletons of Society"||King||King||4:40|
|9.||"Born of Fire"||King||3:07|
|10.||"Seasons in the Abyss"||Araya||Hanneman||6:34|