December 10, 2023
Slayer in the late 1980s

Released on October 9, 1990, Slayer’s Seasons In The Abyss remains one of metal’s enduring hallmarks. For every punter who rates Reign In Blood as Slayer’s finest moment, you’re likely to find another who’d back Seasons… Featuring the classic lineup of vocalist/bassist Tom Araya, guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman and drummer Dave Lombardo, Slayer’s fifth full-length outing completed the unholiest of trinities, distilling the flamethrowing hostility of Reign In Blood into the creeping malevolence of South Of Heaven. Thematically, the band resumed their meditations on a bleak and merciless world with ten pulverising tracks about violence (Hallowed Point, Expendable Youth, War Ensemble), serial killers (Dead Skin Mask), state-sponsored corruption (Blood Red) and the paranormal (Spirit In Black and the Stephen King-inspired Seasons In The Abyss).

At the time, some diehards decried the slowed-down tempo of the title track as evidence of selling out, while others felt that Seasons… caught the L.A. metallers in a creative rut. But these spicy takes have withered and died over the passage of time. In fact, Seasons… saw Slayer tapping into new levels of ambition and musicianship that they had not previously attempted. And the results were magnificent. As Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg told us in 2020, “I think that this album didn’t so much impact the scene as cement them as the ultimate thrash band.”

Here, then, are ten details that inform the story of one of Slayer’s crowning achievements.

Metal Hammer line break

1. By the time the album was complete, Kerry King had had quite enough of Rick Rubin

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