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Seasons in the Abyss

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Seasons in the Abyss
Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 9, 1990 (1990-10-09)
RecordedMarch–June 1990
StudioHit City West, Hollywood Sound, and Record Plant, Los Angeles, California
GenreThrash metal
LabelDef American
Slayer chronology
South of Heaven
Seasons in the Abyss
Divine Intervention

Seasons in the Abyss is the fifth studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released on October 9, 1990, through 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 their full original lineup with drummer Dave Lombardo until his return on the band's 2006 album 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. By 2017, it had sold over 813,000 copies in the United States since Nielsen SoundScan inception.[1]

Recording and production[edit]

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.[2][3] 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; King liked the way it sounded together and so it was left that way for the final version.[4]

Music and lyrics[edit]

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".[5] characterizes Seasons in the Abyss as "an onslaught of sonic distortion" with "abrupt two-string chord barrage and a rippling roar of unleashed tremolo strumming", which accentuates melody in a "hummingbird wingbeat technique" similar to Discharge's Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing. The album also contains longer, whole-interval phrases and chromatic extensions compared to previous Slayer records.[6]

The album combines "grim" vocals and "frenetic" guitars.[7] 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.[8]

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."[9]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Entertainment WeeklyB+[7]
Rock Hard10/10[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[5]

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.[9] Although it was "unwelcome" to music shows and rock–radio outlets, it got substantial airplay on MTV's Headbangers Ball.[13] Seasons in the Abyss features Slayer's first music video, filmed at the Giza Plateau in Giza, Egypt.[13]

The album received generally positive reviews by critics. In a retrospective review, 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 also wrote that the album "paints Reagan-era America as a cesspool of corruption and cruelty, and the music is as devilishly effective as ever".[9] describes Seasons in the Abyss as a "solid" album and "the last of the Slayer albums to contain any strength of will or spirit", noting it is not as subtle nor as intense as previous Slayer records; the songwriting is thematically more unfocused and disorganized, sometimes giving way to forced aggression.[6]

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".[14] Mike Stagno from Sputnikmusic said that the album was a well-received return by Slayer.[12] 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".[7] In 2017, it was ranked 31st on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".[15]

The album peaked at number 40 on the Billboard 200 and number 18 on the UK Albums Chart.[16][17] Seasons in the Abyss was certified gold in both the United States and Canada.[18][19] The title track and "War Ensemble" earned Slayer its heaviest airplay on MTV to date.[9] 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.[20] Children of Bodom bassist Henkka T. Blacksmith hailed Seasons in the Abyss as "the best metal album ever".[21] The crossover thrash supergroup S.O.D. released a single named "Seasoning the Obese" in tribute to the album.[22]

In 2016, Loudwire ranked Seasons in the Abyss #2 among Slayer's eleven studio albums.[23] At the 1991 Foundations Forum, the music video for the title track won a Concrete Foundations Award for Best Video, tying with Jane's Addiction's "Been Caught Stealing."[24]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."War Ensemble"Hanneman4:51
2."Blood Red"ArayaHanneman2:47
3."Spirit in Black"KingHanneman4:07
4."Expendable Youth"ArayaKing4:09
5."Dead Skin Mask"ArayaHanneman5:20
Side two
6."Hallowed Point"
  • Hanneman
  • Araya
  • Hanneman
  • King
7."Skeletons of Society"KingKing4:40
9."Born of Fire"King
  • Hanneman
  • King
10."Seasons in the Abyss"ArayaHanneman6:34
Total length:42:27


  • Rick Rubin – production
  • Andy Wallace – co-production, engineering, mixing
  • Larry Carroll – artwork, illustrations
  • Chris Rich – assistant engineering
  • David Tobocman – assistant engineering
  • Allen Abrahamson – assistant engineering
  • Robert Fisher – graphic design
  • Rick Sales – management
  • Howie Weinberg – mastering
  • Sunny Bak – photography
  • Marty Temme – photography


Chart (1990) Peak
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[25] 58
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[26] 29
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[27] 69
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[28] 19
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[29] 47
UK Albums (OCC)[30] 18
US Billboard 200[31] 40


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[32] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[33] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Metal By Numbers 4/27: The charts board the Enterprise". Metal Insider. April 27, 2017. Retrieved November 3, 2021.
  2. ^ "Seasons in the Abyss – Slayer". Retrieved October 28, 2010.
  3. ^ Seasons in the Abyss (CD). Slayer. Def American. 1990.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  4. ^ 1990 issue of Metal Maniacs featuring Slayer and Megadeth talking about their then new LPs (Seasons in The Abyss and Rust In Peace)
  5. ^ a b Brackett, Nathan; Christian Hoard (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City, New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 741–742. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. rolling stone slayer album guide.
  6. ^ a b "Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss (Death Metal)". Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Browne, David (November 9, 1990). "Seasons in the Abyss Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 23, 2009.
  8. ^ (2010-04-26) "SLAYER, MEGADETH To Perform Entire 'Seasons, 'Rust' Albums On 'Carnage' Tours". Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  9. ^ a b c d e Huey, Steve "Seasons in the Abyss – Slayer". AllMusic. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
  10. ^ Kupfer, Thomas. "Rock Hard". issue 44. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  11. ^ Perry, Neil (November 1990). "Seasonal Greetings". Select: 114.
  12. ^ a b Mike Stagno. "Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss (Staff Review)". Sputnikmusic. October 4, 2010.
  13. ^ a b Billboard. June 5, 1999. p. 86
  14. ^ J. D. Considine "Intense Slayer blasts its imagery home". The Baltimore Sun. February 15, 1991. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
  15. ^ Epstein, Dan (June 21, 2017). "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  16. ^ "Seasons in the Abyss – Slayer(2002)". Billboard. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  17. ^ "UK Top 40 Hit Database". Every hit. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  18. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum – Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  19. ^ "Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA): Certification Results". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  20. ^ Morgan, Anthony (October 2007). ""Armoured Assault" – Evile frontman Matt Drake hails gargantuan Thrash masterpiece Enter the Grave". Lucem Fero. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
  21. ^ "Children Of Bodom: Henkka Blacksmith talks Metal". Metal Hammer. February 22, 2008. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved June 3, 2008.
  22. ^ "S.O.D. - Seasoning the Obese - Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives". Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  23. ^ "Slayer Albums Ranked". Loudwire. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  24. ^ "Raw" (PDF). November 12, 1991. p. 5. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  25. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  26. ^ " – Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  27. ^ " – Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  28. ^ " – Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  29. ^ " – Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  30. ^ "Slayer | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  31. ^ "Slayer Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  32. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss". Music Canada.
  33. ^ "American album certifications – Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss". Recording Industry Association of America.