Monday, 21 January 2013

CD Review: Seasons In The Abyss, by Slayer (1990)

Seasons In The Abyss continues to evolve the melody-heavy, more deliberately paced sound that Slayer introduced on South Of Heaven. The band's fifth album may lack killer tracks, but it offers ten selections of uniformly admirable thrash metal.

Tom Araya's vocals are more measured, leaning towards tortured rather than threatening. The guitars of Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King are still spitting fire, but without ever quite finding that flash of genius to elevate a track to legendary status. Dave Lombardo, in the final round of his initial stint with the band, is as ever thunderous but doesn't quite shake the walls with the same intensity. Overall, the sound of Seasons In The Abyss is finely polished, but the song-writing, while pleasingly evolutionary, struggles to find new aces.

Producer Rick Rubin works with the band to add subtle depth and texture, revealed on some ghostly backing vocals, notably the unsettling voices of children towards the end of Dead Skin Mask. Two distinct Araya vocal tracks are heard on Temptation, Rubin and the band deciding to overdub two separate takes.

Title track and album closer Seasons In The Abyss is by far the longest track at over six minutes, and starts with a foreboding intro that slows the pace right down, a traditional horror walk through the dark on the way to extreme unpleasantness. When Araya's vocals arrive riding on a galloping riff, they are unusually melodic and higher pitched, the departure from his traditional aggressive monotone contributing to a pervasive parallel between the abyss and a hellish asylum. As it turns out, on the way South Of Heaven, Slayer took a turn to an even more sinister destination.


Tom Araya: Bass, Vocals
Jeff Hanneman: Guitars
Kerry King: Guitars
Dave Lombardo: Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. War Ensemble - 8
2. Blood Red - 8
3. Spirit In Black - 7
4. Expendable Youth - 8
5. Dead Skin Mask - 7
6. Hallowed Point - 8
7. Skeletons Of Society - 8
8. Temptation - 8
9. Born Of Fire - 7
10. Seasons In The Abyss - 9

Average: 7.80

Produced by Rick Rubin.
Engineered and Mixed by Andy Wallace.
Mastered by Howie Weinberg.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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