An Album to Pave the Way

Seasons in the Abyss album cover by Slayer. (1990) The band was formed in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, drummer Dave Lombardo, and bassist and vocalist Tom Araya. “As long as it's good music, that's what's important.” Araya said.

Wikipedia

Seasons in the Abyss album cover by Slayer. (1990) The band was formed in 1981 by guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, drummer Dave Lombardo, and bassist and vocalist Tom Araya. “As long as it’s good music, that’s what’s important.” Araya said.

Tomas Sierra, Freelance Writer

Slayer was an American thrash metal band until the members’ retirement in 2019. It was one of the big four thrash giants from which Metallica is also a part of. In 1990 they released the hit album Seasons in the Abyss which brought forth the dawn of a new era in metal.

The album introduced a new concept to metal which described the cruel reality of humanity and a vivid description of death and gore. This album inspired the rise of new metal genres like Black, Death, and Brutal Death metal among others. This type of music and lyrics appeal to a very specific type of audience, and because of the recent decline in interest in rock and metal, it’s become under-appreciated and usually glossed over and labeled as just screams and loud noises. Its complexity and depth, however, coupled with their extraordinary musical talent merit a listen regardless of your taste in music.

Slayer usually has hard and loud vocals and this album is no different. Lead singer, Tom Araya, displays his range and all-around vocal strength in every song of the album. Slayer is notorious for its awesome headbanging riffs (a repeated chord that makes up the beat of the song). Guitarist Kerry King demonstrates a clear example of his next-level guitar skills in this album. Personally, I believe this album has some of the greatest riffs and vocals of not only thrash but all metal and rock. The amount of talent and skill performed by the group is incredible as stand-alone but together makes unforgettable songs, and hard and inspiring melodies perfect for working out or headbanging to. Slayer also takes on harsh truth and morbid realities. In this album, the lyrics follow a pattern of war, murder, and pain. They talk about these things through description and feelings, trying to convey the cruel reality of war and death.

 

“Sport the war, war support

The sport is war, total war

When victory’s a massacre

The final swing is not a drill

It’s how many people I can kill”

Excerpt from the first song of the album, War Ensemble, where they talk about war being treated as a game and how life is meaningless in war.

 

 “Expendable youths

Fighting for possession

Having control, the principle obsession

Rivalry and retribution

Death the only solution.

Stanza from the song Expendable Youth, a stanza in which the song turns down the gory descriptions to convey the message and meaning of child soldiers and their use in war.

 

The band usually sings about religion and hell in their lyrics but with this album, they took on human atrocities and real-life pain and misery, as well as the reality and ways of death and murder. Since the dawn of metal with Black Sabbath in the 70s, the genre had been about going against the current and often considered rebellious, but this album opened the doors to a whole new genre and darker metal scene. They sought to stray away from the dried out monotonous theme of bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The lyrics talk about situations that really resonated with me and clearly reveal the misery we accept in our everyday lives. Murder and pain are all around us and we don’t care until we are subject to it. War isn’t weird to humans, and an age of peace has yet to be seen in all of mankind’s history, so Slayer bears the questions: Are we instinctively murderous? Why is all we do centered around conflict for our own gain? 

Its theme of human violence was used by punk bands and their anarchist views against the state. Although the album isn’t explicitly against anything, it does highlight the atrocities of man and how we must accept what we are, what we have done, and why we hide away in our immediate reality. This type of harsh exposure was and is considered too morbid for the average person. For Slayer to go even deeper and gorier was new and fresh and was quickly adopted and loved by the metal community. Personally, I wasn’t born for the release but it was my first introduction to a heavier metal scene where this album inspired harder and gorier bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, and Sodom to give a few examples. It was a revolutionary concept for metal.

The album is an excellent show of talent and originality and comes with a slap in the face coupled with a handful of reality for you to digest, so if you like metal or feel brave then I definitely recommend you give it a listen. If you’re not used to loud music and guttural screams then just move along because this is not for you.