Sunday, April 24, 2011

Slayer-Seasons In The Abyss (Spirit In Black)


Poll Winner: Which song does not belong?

In last month's reader's poll I gave you six songs, all with the word 'black' in the title and asked you to figure out which one does not belong. There were 2 songs by Black Sabbath (one with Ozzy, one with Tony Martin), a Slayer song (Spirit In Black), a Dio song, an Ozzy Osbourne song, and a Tony Iommi song. The 'winner' this time was Slayer, since they were to only option where no band member had played on a Black Sabbath recording.

The song I chose, 'Spirit In Black', is from Slayer's monumental 1990 album Seasons In The Abyss. Last year, Slayer celebrated the 20th anniversary of 'Seasons' by performing it in it's entirety on the American Carnage Tour. I was lucky enough to attend one of those shows, but I'll review that concert a little later.

Today, I'm focusing on Seasons In The Abyss.

Many fans consider this album the last great album from Slayer's prime-years. It was a strong follow-up to 1988's South of Heaven, and closed the decade with a furious, thrashing consistency for Slayer. The album opens with the first 3 tracks blending together almost like a big medley. 'War Ensemble' kicks it off with a fast, thrashy, war-themed mosher. 'Blood Red' immediately continues with more lyrics depicting 'the massacre of innocent people'. Then we're hit with 'Spirit In Black', another Slayer classic, where the band again focus on horrific images of purgatory-esque suffering.

Never shy to look on the dark side of human nature, Slayer take you on several twists and turns through an often psychopathic psyche with the different tracks on this classic album. By this point in their career as one of the 'Big 4' pioneers in thrash metal, they had remained arguably more consistent than any of their peers.

Later in the 90's, metal would become less popular as grunge and alternative rock would rise in popularity. The effects this would have on veteran metal bands would differ from one artist to another, but Slayer would stay the course. Several years later metal began to rise again, and Slayer's contribution to its rejuvenation has remained significant to this day. But for now, take a moment to go back and appreciate one of the greatest albums from thrash-metal's golden era.

My personal recommendations from Seasons In The Abyss:
War Ensemble
Blood Red
Spirit In Black
Dead Skin Mask (a true favorite of mine. One of the darkest, most haunting melodies ever composed in metal!)
Skeletons of Society
Seasons in the Abyss

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