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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 Slayer
Released October 9, 1990 (1990-10-09)
Recorded March–June 1990
Studio Hit City West, Hollywood Sound, and Record Plant, Los Angeles, California
Genre Thrash metal
Length 42:27
Label Def American
Producer Rick Rubin, Andy Wallace, Slayer
Slayer chronology
South of Heaven
(1988)South of Heaven1988
Seasons in the Abyss
Divine Intervention
(1994)Divine Intervention1994

Seasons in the Abyss is the fifth studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer. It was released on October 9, 1990, through Def American Records, and later through American Recordings after the record label changed its name. The album's recording sessions began in March 1990 at Hit City West, Hollywood Sound, and ended in June 1990 at Record Plant in Los Angeles, California. It was the band's last studio album to feature original drummer Dave Lombardo until 2006's Christ Illusion.

The musical style of the album is similar and was compared by critics to the band's previous two albums: South of Heaven and Reign in Blood. The album's reception was generally positive. It peaked number 18 in the United Kingdom and also charted on the Billboard 200 at number 40. It was certified gold in the United States and Canada.

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.[1][2] 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 on the instrumental background, and the producer suggested that both vocal tracks should be used on the album.[3]

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".[4]

The album combines "grim" vocals and "frenetic" guitars.[5] 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.[6]

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."[7]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[7]
Entertainment Weekly B+[5]
Rock Hard 10/10[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[4]
Sputnikmusic 4.0/5[9]

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.[7] Although it was "unwelcome" to music shows and rock–radio outlets, it got substantial airplay on MTV's now-defunct "Headbangers Ball".[10] Seasons in the Abyss features Slayer's first music video, filmed in Cairo.[10]

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".[7] 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".[7]

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".[11] Mike Stagno from SputnikMusic said that the album was a well-received return by Slayer.[9] 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".[5] In 2017, it was ranked 31st on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".[12]

The album peaked at number 40 on the Billboard 200 and number 18 on the UK Albums Chart.[13][14] Seasons in the Abyss was certified gold in both the United States and Canada.[15][16] The title track and "War Ensemble" earned Slayer its heaviest airplay on MTV to date.[7] 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.[17] Children of Bodom bassist Henkka T. Blacksmith hailed Seasons in the Abyss as "the best metal album ever".[18] The thrash/crossover supergroup S.O.D. released a single named "Seasoning the Obese" in tribute to the album.[19]

In popular culture[edit]

War Ensemble is a playable track in the video game, Guitar Hero: Metallica, and it is the hardest of all guest act tracks. On drums, players have the option to select the "Expert+" difficulty, which requires an additional kick pedal due to rapid bass pedaling.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "War Ensemble" Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman Hanneman 4:51
2. "Blood Red" Araya Hanneman 2:47
3. "Spirit in Black" Kerry King Hanneman 4:07
4. "Expendable Youth" Araya King 4:09
5. "Dead Skin Mask" Araya Hanneman 5:20
6. "Hallowed Point" Araya, Hanneman Hanneman, King 3:23
7. "Skeletons of Society" King King 4:40
8. "Temptation" King King 3:25
9. "Born of Fire" King Hanneman, King 3:07
10. "Seasons in the Abyss" Araya Hanneman 6:34



Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ "Seasons in the Abyss - Slayer". Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  2. ^ Seasons in the Abyss (CD). Slayer. Def American. 1990. 
  3. ^ 1990 issue of Metal Maniacs featuring Slayer and Megadeth talking about their then new LPs (Seasons in The Abyss and Rust In Peace)
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ a b c Browne, David (November 9, 1990). "Seasons in the Abyss Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 23, 2009. 
  6. ^ (2010-04-26) "SLAYER, MEGADETH To Perform Entire 'Seasons, 'Rust' Albums On 'Carnage' Tours". Retrieved 2010-07-20.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Huey, Steve "Seasons in the Abyss - Slayer". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
  8. ^ Kupfer, Thomas. "Rock Hard". issue 44. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Mike Stagno. "Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss (Staff Review)". Sputnikmusic. 2010-10-04.
  10. ^ a b Billboard. June 5, 1999. p. 86
  11. ^ J. D. Considine "Intense Slayer blasts its imagery home". The Baltimore Sun. 1991-02-15. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
  12. ^ Epstein, Dan (21 June 2017). "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved 21 June 2017. 
  13. ^ "Seasons in the Abyss - Slayer(2002)". Billboard. Retrieved 2010-07-20.
  14. ^ "UK Top 40 Hit Database". Every hit. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  15. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum - Searchable Database". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  16. ^ "Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA): Certification Results". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  17. ^ Morgan, Anthony (October 2007). ""Armoured Assault" - Evile frontman Matt Drake hails gargantuan Thrash masterpiece Enter the Grave". Lucem Fero. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  18. ^ "Children Of Bodom: Henkka Blacksmith talks Metal". Metal Hammer. 2008-02-22. Archived from the original on 2010-07-25. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  19. ^ "Seasoning the Obese". 
  20. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 
  21. ^ " – Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss" (in German). Hung Medien.
  22. ^ " – Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  23. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Phononet GmbH.
  24. ^ " – Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss". Hung Medien.
  25. ^ "Slayer | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart.
  26. ^ "Slayer Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  27. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss". Music Canada. 
  28. ^ "American album certifications – Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH