Rating:
9.7
Slayer - Seasons In The Abyss
9 October 1990


01. War Ensemble
02. Blood Red
03. Spirit In Black
04. Expendable Youth
05. Dead Skin Mask
06. Hallowed Point
07. Skeletons Of Society
08. Temptation
09. Born Of Fire
10. Seasons In The Abyss


Although Reign in Blood is generally regarded as Slayer's magnum opus, for me personally Seasons In the Abyss is definitely Slayer at the peak of their musical and lyrical prowess. Building on their two previous albums they delivered an album which had all the speed and brutality of Reign in Blood as well as the much slower mid-tempo groove of South of Heaven.

The album kicks off with War Ensemble and the song is characterised by the high speed marching effect throughout, created through guitars and drums alike to varying degrees, and is a perfect example of Slayer's trademark style of lyrics and music commenting on each other in equal proportion.

The entire album is interspersed with some of the slowest songs Slayer has ever done amidst the usual frantic pummelling and unlike Reign In Blood each song throughout the album changes tempo on more than one occasion. This provides the opportunity for Dave Lombardo to show a wide range of drumming techniques and in my opinion the best he has ever done. They managed to take their sinister sounding riffs to a whole new level on tracks like Dead Skin Mask, which tells the story of serial killer Ed Gein.

Lyrically the album discusses social issues such as gang violence and their usual topics of the time dealing with the occult, war, the state of modern day society and the affect on the individual living within in it. Without a doubt some their most thought provoking and catchy lyrics to date. To the avid Slayer fan these are words which you will find coming back to you again and again in a variety of circumstances and are written, dare I say, intentionally so.

My favourite track on the album is the title track which is composed following a completely different formula to any songs Slayer had ever done previously. Including an intro of over a minute, the most repeated chorus in any of their songs and at a length of 6:38 minutes it was their longest song since the Hell Awaits album. It was turned into a music video set amongst the pyramids in Egypt which went a long way to increase sales.

It was the last album of their golden era before the long term departure of drummer Dave Lombardo and is littered with Slayer classics which have remained an integral part of their live show ever since. At the time of its release it was their highest selling album and their first to go past the two million mark in sales.

It is not only an essential Slayer or thrash metal purchase but essential to the collection of anyone with even only the vaguest interest in metal whatsoever. No length of review can do this album justice, I can only recommend that if you don't already own it you should buy it immediately and listen to it over and over again.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Production: 10


Band profile: Slayer
Album: Seasons In The Abyss


 


written by Stuart | 23.03.2008


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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Katatronik - 24.03.2008 at 13:06  
Amazing album, nothing left to say... Just few points lower than the absolute masterpiece Reign In Blood...
BitterCOld - 24.03.2008 at 21:14  
good review, but a generous score. compared to it's predecessor, i felt the stand-out tracks were better than "South of Heaven's" best, but i also felt the filler tracks were just horribly sub-par for Slayer.

High points - "War Ensemble", "Hallowed Point", "Seasons in the Abyss"

Mediocre - "Blood Red", "Expendable Youth", "Skeletons of Society"

lyrically it's a great album, even if "Temptation" goes on a tangent at the end. I love how "Spirit in Black" calls upon prior Slayer tracks.

All in all i'd give it between an 8 and 8.5. great album, but too many forgettable tracks to hit a 9.
SlaytallicA - 24.03.2008 at 21:35  
A good review,it is really a great album but the score is maybe a little high... If Reign in Blood is a 10(for me) I have to give this one a 9...
Stuart - 24.03.2008 at 22:06  
Written by BitterCOld on 24.03.2008 at 21:14

good review, but a generous score. compared to it's predecessor, i felt the stand-out tracks were better than "South of Heaven's" best, but i also felt the filler tracks were just horribly sub-par for Slayer.

High points - "War Ensemble", "Hallowed Point", "Seasons in the Abyss"

Mediocre - "Blood Red", "Expendable Youth", "Skeletons of Society"

lyrically it's a great album, even if "Temptation" goes on a tangent at the end. I love how "Spirit in Black" calls upon prior Slayer tracks.

All in all i'd give it between an 8 and 8.5. great album, but too many forgettable tracks to hit a 9.


Scoring an album is always a difficult process, but using the system provided, it was the only conclusion I could come to.

Performance is a definite 10, all songs are executed perfectly.
Songwriting, well in it's genre is unsurpassed so again a 10.
Production, as with all Def Jam records productions, it is absolutely perfect as well so again a 10.
And with originality, it doesn't break any new ground as far as Slayer are concerned but they do do take a genre they helped invent one step further so it has to have a high score again.
Hence my score.

The argument about the filler tracks is one I've had many times. For me the tracks you have listed as mediocre are some of my all time favourites, as I said in my review they really have some brilliant drumming. The only slight issue I have with these tracks is that Skeletons of Society and Expendable Youth are too similar, but one could say that this is intentional. I could ramble on for hours why I think this album is better than Reign In Blood but as stated in my review it's all just personal opinion.
AnarChrist - 26.03.2008 at 14:47  
great album, but the first three albums are better, out of which I like "Show No Mercy" the best
Timelord - 29.06.2008 at 17:11  
The reason I would put Seasons over South of Heaven and just under Reign is for the simple fact you have elements of both in the release. If I am correct Born of Fire was a hold over from Reign. How often is it that a band puts out 3 brutal yet different classics in a row. Slayer will always be the Godfathers. Llica (cause no metal is left) shuns their speed metal roots at times and will never in my book take away Slayers crown. I don't care how many copies sold of the "Black" album. Slayer should put out an album called "Blackest of the Black".
Stuart - 12.07.2008 at 13:51  
Written by Timelord on 29.06.2008 at 17:11

If I am correct Born of Fire was a hold over from Reign.

Born of Fire was actualy originally intended to be an instrumental on South of Heaven.
Deadmeat - 22.10.2008 at 15:29  
To me that album is overrated by Slayer fans. I like the songs, maybe it is the 2nd, 3rd better Slayer album but comparing it to Reign In Blood it's way back. Much slower and without that aggression. A good album: 8,5.
AngelOfDisease - 01.03.2009 at 04:37  
Well I just listened to this album and I must say that it's pretty boring. It's too slow, and while that is not something necessarilly bad to me, Slayer's slow songs are just boring (except for some like the title track, south of heaven, and the ones from show no mercy). But it still has some really catchy riffs.
ms68 - 05.03.2009 at 19:10  
Written by AngelOfDisease on 01.03.2009 at 04:37

Well I just listened to this album and I must say that it's pretty boring. It's too slow, and while that is not something necessarilly bad to me, Slayer's slow songs are just boring (except for some like the title track, south of heaven, and the ones from show no mercy). But it still has some really catchy riffs.

really??for example u find dead skin mask and hallowed point boring?
AngelOfDisease - 06.03.2009 at 05:25  
Written by ms68 on 05.03.2009 at 19:10

Written by AngelOfDisease on 01.03.2009 at 04:37

Well I just listened to this album and I must say that it's pretty boring. It's too slow, and while that is not something necessarilly bad to me, Slayer's slow songs are just boring (except for some like the title track, south of heaven, and the ones from show no mercy). But it still has some really catchy riffs.

really??for example u find dead skin mask and hallowed point boring?

xD I forgot about dead skin mask... but hallowed point is a really fast track in most parts
Panterica - 29.07.2009 at 14:52  
I agree with every word in the review, maybe the rating is a bit high but not too far. Still it's my favorite album, I mean Reign in Blood is also very good, but the songs there sounds pretty much the same.
wormdrink414 - 29.09.2009 at 06:31  
Easily my favorite Slayer album. If I hadn't bought this album when I did, I might not be listening to metal right now.
Panterica - 25.02.2010 at 18:47  
My favorite of Slayer's albums. I like this one better than Rain of Blood because I like the combination between the slow, heavy parts and the fast and intense riffs. The reason I don't like RIB so much because it seems to me like a technical show-off (No offence, RIB fans). I have a lot of respect for that record, but still it makes me tired.
For all of you who loves Slayer and Seasons in the Abyss perticularly, Sacrifice's new album The Ones I Condemn is a must!
Lit. - 04.12.2010 at 08:29  
Managed to buy it during American Carnage Tour II w/ Megadeth and Anthrax.
Definately an awesome album, actually perfer it over RiB. Dead Skin Mask is my favorite track. The riff is fucking chilling.
Guib - 25.12.2010 at 01:09  
Personally I find it better than Reign In Blood
Angelic Storm - 25.12.2010 at 01:28  
Written by Stuart on 24.03.2008 at 22:06
The argument about the filler tracks is one I've had many times. For me the tracks you have listed as mediocre are some of my all time favourites, as I said in my review they really have some brilliant drumming. The only slight issue I have with these tracks is that Skeletons of Society and Expendable Youth are too similar, but one could say that this is intentional.


Ive always seen "Skeletons Of Society" as a far superior track to "Expendable Youth". The pacing of the songs are similar, but I dont think they really sound the same. For me anyway, "Skeletons..." has always carried a creeping, menacing, vibe. Whereas "Expendable..." just sounds pedestrian and dull to me.

As for the album itself, Ive always seen it as slightly overrated. The first four albums are absolute classics in my eyes, and Seasons for me at least, is when the quality started dipping. There are some truly great songs on the album, like "Dead Skin Mask", "Born Of Fire", and the outright awesome "Spirit In Black". "Expendable Youth" is the only song I really dislike on the album, although "Blood Red" is hardly a classic either. It is a really good album, but I feel its just a shade off the sheer classic status of the preceding 4 albums. xD
Vikcen - 25.12.2010 at 02:57  
Written by Guib on 25.12.2010 at 01:09

Personally I find it better than Reign In Blood


I go farther =) , personally i find "Christ Illusion" and "World Painted Blood" better than "Reign In Blood", but i prefer before "Reign In Blood" than "Seasons In The Abyss"...
vezzy - 25.12.2010 at 09:56  
Written by Vikcen on 25.12.2010 at 02:57

Written by Guib on 25.12.2010 at 01:09

Personally I find it better than Reign In Blood


I go farther =) , personally i find "Christ Illusion" and "World Painted Blood" better than "Reign In Blood", but i prefer before "Reign In Blood" than "Seasons In The Abyss"...


*shoots self*
RavenKing - 26.12.2010 at 16:03  
Written by Angelic Storm on 25.12.2010 at 01:28

Written by Stuart on 24.03.2008 at 22:06


Ive always seen "Skeletons Of Society" as a far superior track to "Expendable Youth". The pacing of the songs are similar, but I dont think they really sound the same. For me anyway, "Skeletons..." has always carried a creeping, menacing, vibe. Whereas "Expendable..." just sounds pedestrian and dull to me.

As for the album itself, Ive always seen it as slightly overrated. The first four albums are absolute classics in my eyes, and Seasons for me at least, is when the quality started dipping. There are some truly great songs on the album, like "Dead Skin Mask", "Born Of Fire", and the outright awesome "Spirit In Black". "Expendable Youth" is the only song I really dislike on the album, although "Blood Red" is hardly a classic either. It is a really good album, but I feel its just a shade off the sheer classic status of the preceding 4 albums. xD


Agreed on "Skeletons Of Society" over "Expendable Youth". Though none of them is a great track.


As for albums, I believe the quality started to drop a bit on "South Of Heaven". Maybe not so much musically but as far as production is concerned.
When it comes to Slayer, the only albums I still have in my collection are "Show No Mercy", "Haunting The Chapel" and "Hell Awaits" + "Decade Of Aggression". I like the songs from "South Of Heaven" and "Seasons In The Abyss" when I hear them on "Decade Of Aggression" but I never listen to them on the original album because I hate how the studio versions sound. "South Of Heaven", especially, have vocals I utterly hate. I don't know what Slayer had in mind when they put those weak and almost whiny vocals on the album but they don't fit at all.
As for "Reign In Blood", I like songs from this album when I hear them among other Slayer songs but I don't enjoy listening to the album because of the one-dimensional direction of the record and the absence of variety. Very very little stands out on "Reign In Blood".
Angelic Storm - 27.12.2010 at 07:32  
Written by RavenKing on 26.12.2010 at 16:03
As for albums, I believe the quality started to drop a bit on "South Of Heaven". Maybe not so much musically but as far as production is concerned.
When it comes to Slayer, the only albums I still have in my collection are "Show No Mercy", "Haunting The Chapel" and "Hell Awaits" + "Decade Of Aggression". I like the songs from "South Of Heaven" and "Seasons In The Abyss" when I hear them on "Decade Of Aggression" but I never listen to them on the original album because I hate how the studio versions sound. "South Of Heaven", especially, have vocals I utterly hate. I don't know what Slayer had in mind when they put those weak and almost whiny vocals on the album but they don't fit at all.
As for "Reign In Blood", I like songs from this album when I hear them among other Slayer songs but I don't enjoy listening to the album because of the one-dimensional direction of the record and the absence of variety. Very very little stands out on "Reign In Blood".


Oh, I totally love the sound on "South Of Heaven"! lol It has a really cold and haunting quality which isnt on any of their other albums. I think Tom's vocal style actually fits in perfectly with the album, and adds to the chilling vibe of it. It's actually my fave Slayer album, mainly because of the oppressive, and creepy sound on it. IMO it's more consistent, and sounds better, than "Seasons In The Abyss". Most people see "Seasons..." as the classic, and "South Of Heaven" as the weaker album. Ive always seen it as the other way around.

You have "Decade Of Aggression"? Did you not say you saw live albums as pointless, or am I misquoting you? Sorry if I am.

I think "Reign In Blood" largely works, because of it's length. Its a very short and snappy album, so while it is one-dimensional, it never gets monotonous because it doesn't outstay it's welcome. For me, it is a great experience hearing the album in one sitting, just a short-sharp burst of manic fury. xD I would agree though, that once individual songs on the album are isolated, they stand out a lot more, when they're not mixed in with the relentless attack of the full album. I think they work in the context of the album, and outside of it, just for different reasons. Most of the individual songs do shine brighter though once isolated on their own.
RavenKing - 27.12.2010 at 14:53  
Written by Angelic Storm on 27.12.2010 at 07:32

You have "Decade Of Aggression"? Did you not say you saw live albums as pointless, or am I misquoting you? Sorry if I am.


I'm not a big fan of live albums and find many of them pointless, indeed. Especially when you already can find the same songs on many other live albums (see Iron Maiden). But there are live albums I like.

"Live After Death", "Alive In Athens" (though I very rarely listen to these two nowadays, as I have very little interest left for Iron Maiden or Iced Earth - I really need to be in the right mood), "Decade Of Aggression", "Imperial Collapse" and a few others.

Also, keep in mind I'm mostly into Black Metal and BM bands usually don't release live albums. Some bands are simply too underground and don't make any money, so they can't release live albums. Some bands don't play live. The live aspect doesn't matter for BM.

Bottom line is I prefer by far getting new songs than live versions of songs I already heard.
PhantomLord21 - 13.06.2011 at 14:48  
I'm not a major Slayer fan (two albums, with the intention of getting World Painted Blood sometime in the future), but I think that Reign In Blood is a bit overrated. True, it is a fantastic album, but you need the lyrics to actually know for certain what Araya is singing large amounts of the time of the time (yeah, I'm a guy who prefers to be able to make out the lyrics rather than just listen to the guitar riffs and solos) and the speed of the album means that it is somewhat difficult to completely get into before it finishes (although the length of the album, at 29 minutes, also works in its favour: you can literally listen to it twice if you get a free hour, whereas most albums would either only get one play or be cut off before it finishes). Seasons In The Abyss, by contrast, is roughly near the end of the fifth track by the time Reign In Blood would have finished, a bit clearer in terms of lyrics and still maintaining much of the impressive guitar work that Reign In Blood made Slayer notorious. However, I must admit that the speed of Reign In Blood shows just how aggressive guitars can sound and just how influential Slayer has been on metal bands since the late Eighties, marking it as a true classic, something which Seasons In The Abyss doesn't have as much of (although "Dead Skin Mask" shows that speed isn't always crucial to make a classic metal song, so...). Overall, Reign In Blood is more influential, but Seasons In The Abyss is probably a better album to introduce someone to Slayer (or, indeed, death/thrash metal) with.
deadone - 14.02.2014 at 07:25  
Written by BLACK FUNERAL on 14.02.2014 at 07:16

Slayer forever!



Boy's mastered the Cut and Paste function...
!J.O.O.E.! - 14.02.2014 at 11:29  
Written by BLACK FUNERAL on 14.02.2014 at 07:16

copy pasta

Dude, we all know this shit is not your own writing and that you're lifting it all from metal archives.
pkillerjp - 18.02.2014 at 23:54  
Why does everyone hate Expendable Youth? I find it to be one of the best tracks they ever made, no joke. The albums a classic, although not quite as good as South of Heaven. The title track is a metal masterpiece with unbelievable songwriting.
deadone - 19.02.2014 at 07:18  
Written by pkillerjp on 18.02.2014 at 23:54

Why does everyone hate Expendable Youth? I find it to be one of the best tracks they ever made, no joke. The albums a classic, although not quite as good as South of Heaven. The title track is a metal masterpiece with unbelievable songwriting.



I have a love hate relationship with Expendable Youth.

I hate it when I'm talking about the album but don't mind it when I hear it. I also have the same relationships with Skeletons of Society and Dead Skin Mask.


Agree on title track being a phenomenal song.

A pet fave of mine is Born Of Fire especiually this bit:

"All things dead must rise again
When twilight's blanket falls
Splattered red you'll find my den
Blood dripping from the walls

Dreams born of desire
Shaped and forged within the fire
Twisted, warped, deranged I see
The world's corrupt insanity "

Intense.
pkillerjp - 28.02.2014 at 00:22  
^ I always liked "Born of Fire" as well, these songs really sound great live. Skeletons of Society was never one of my favorites, but in the live setting it kicked hard, as did Expendable Youth, and the lesser brought up "Hallowed Point". Some of Slayer's best written songs appear on this album, but I still give the slight nod to South of Heaven as their best work.
deadone - 28.02.2014 at 00:48  
I was sad when I saw Slayer live cause Tom Araya's vocals packed it in and they played an instrumental set.

Surely one of the other guys could've sang something....
Ace Frawley - 01.03.2014 at 00:15  
Written by deadone on 28.02.2014 at 00:48

I was sad when I saw Slayer live cause Tom Araya's vocals packed it in and they played an instrumental set.

Surely one of the other guys could've sang something....


Yeah, that is very disappointing. If a guitarist is not used to ever singing, then it would probably be impossible to just do it as a once off. Singing and playing an instrument is quite a skill. I can't recall ever seeing King doing back up vocals so couldn't imagine he could sing anything. And surely Bostaph never sings. That would just leave Holt (I'm assuming you saw them recently) and I don't know if he sings.
deadone - 01.03.2014 at 00:44  
Written by Ace Frawley on 01.03.2014 at 00:15

Written by deadone on 28.02.2014 at 00:48

I was sad when I saw Slayer live cause Tom Araya's vocals packed it in and they played an instrumental set.

Surely one of the other guys could've sang something....


Yeah, that is very disappointing. If a guitarist is not used to ever singing, then it would probably be impossible to just do it as a once off. Singing and playing an instrument is quite a skill. I can't recall ever seeing King doing back up vocals so couldn't imagine he could sing anything. And surely Bostaph never sings. That would just leave Holt (I'm assuming you saw them recently) and I don't know if he sings.


Very good point.

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