Slayer Releases "Seasons in the Abyss"
Seasons in the Abyss is the fifth studio album by the thrash metal band Slayer.
It was released in 1990 through Def American Records, and later through American Recordings after the company changed its name. It was Dave Lombardo's last studio album with Slayer, until his return in 2006 with the release of Christ Illusion. Seasons in the Abyss is Slayer's third major record label release. Seasons in the Abyss is one of few albums to be issued with a Parental Advisory label despite the virtual absence of profanity unlike other Slayer albums; however, the lyrics depict violent acts. This album was also released the same day and year as Testament's album Souls of Black. War Ensemble is featured on the setlist for the rhythm game Guitar Hero: Metallica, where it is notorious for being one of the game's most difficult songs on guitar, bass, and drums.
"Born of Fire" was for a long time just an instrumental leftover song from South of Heaven with a working title "Stress" due to the fact that Kerry King could not write any good lyrics for it during the South of Heaven sessions. Eventually it was the last song completed for Seasons in the Abyss.
The somewhat strange vocal arrangement on the track "Temptation" was unintentionally done that way. Tom Araya sang the song twice: once the way he thought it fit and for the second time on the insistence of Kerry King the way he thought it should be sung. The haunting end result came to be because the first vocal track was not erased between the takes. When the producer played the track and heard both vocal renditions simultaneously on the instrumental background, he liked it so much that both vocals were used on the album. Nobody is sure which vocals are the original. Also, for the title track, during Kerry King's guitar solo, there is a variation between the album version solo and the one on the music video for "Seasons in the Abyss", plus sound effects in the beginning of the song during which the clean guitar is playing.
War, murder, blood, and human weakness are the major lyrical themes. In "Born of Fire," "Spirit in Black," and "Temptation," the album returns to the Satanic themes previously featured in Hell Awaits.
The song "Dead Skin Mask" was inspired by murderer Ed Gein. "Blood Red" deals with oppressive communist regimes. "War Ensemble" is an exploration of the horrors of war.
"Skeletons of Society" and "Seasons in the Abyss" on the other hand deal with apocalyptic themes. "Expendable Youth" is about gang wars and gang violence. "Hallowed Point" is about a killing spree.
Seasons in the Abyss was released on October 9, 1990 and peaked at number 40 on the Billboard 200 album chart, the highest position the band attained at the time. In 1992 the album was certified gold, for shipments in excess of 500,000 in the United States. David Browne of Entertainment Weekly commented "Pushing the envelope of its previous album straight out the door, Slayer piles on the grim vocals, the frenetic guitar work, and the gore on Seasons in the Abyss," praising the guitar work of King and Hanneman.
Steve Huey of Allmusic described the album as bringing back the "pounding aggression of Reign In Blood, while periodically kicking up the mid-tempo grooves of South of Heaven." Huey praised the music as "displaying the full range of their abilities all in one place, with sharp, clean production," stating the band is refining rather than progressing or experimenting. The album received a rating of four and a half out of five stars, while 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".
At their performance at the Kentish Town Forum, London on the 3rd June, 2010, Slayer performed the album sequentially in its entirety for the first time.