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"Seasons In The Abyss" is an interesting album. It's often considered to be the last really decent Slayer record, yet it's also the one that divides the fandom in two, some considering it a classic, while others deride it as a lame, poorly-produced effort. I'm in the middle ground, as my dumb ass usually is. While it is certainly a big step down from "South of Heaven", it's not awful, but really not too great either.
The band is really just okay on this one. Araya's bass is now pretty much nonexistent, and he still won't scream; he mostly just depends on that yelling and shouting, not to mention a fair amount of clean growling going on too. Hanneman and King's guitar work is still really good; lots of riffs to go around, but here they sound like they're going through the motions a bit. Lombardo is still probably the only full-on ass-kicker here, again turning that kit into mush from his aggressive hammering and relentless cymbal-slaughtering.
The production is unusual, sounding loud, raw and often sounding a bit too clean, though I do dig the guitar tone. I guess they were going for a more modern production, which would explain the somewhat proto-groove tendencies of some of the songs. Take for example the lame and overrated "Dead Skin Mask", which would be total shit if it weren't for the guitar tone. But man does it sound like a Slipknot song at times, with those whispered vocals sometimes popping up, not to mention the limp dick solo and repetitive riffage. Other songs aren't as as bad, like "Blood Red" or "Born of Fire", but man oh man are they uninspired; very, very fillerish.
At least the better songs outweigh the weaker. "Skeletons of Society", while itself also being fairly groovish in nature, is at least much catchier than "Dead Skin Mask" and has a stronger solo. Speedier numbers like "Hallowed Point" with its killer solos or the particularly catchy "Spirit In Black" are quite good as well. Then the opener "War Ensemble". Oh boy, definitely a Slayer classic. Not "South of Heaven" or "Hell Awaits" great but still a very solid and awesomely aggressive number, complete with the immortal line "The final swing is not a drill, IT'S HOW MANY PEOPLE I CAN KILL!!!" Lastly, the epic title track and closer. Not my personal favorite, I do like it a lot less than most fans, but still the song has great mood, buildup and riffage.
Overall, "Seasons In The Abyss" is a mixed bag. Not a bad bag, but not top of the shelf either. Some of the songs kick a great amount of ass or are just lame or forgettable. I don't know what else to say except that while the album is worthwhile, don't expect "Hell Awaits" or "South of Heaven" here. Do try to appreciate as the last solid Slayer album, before the boys slipped down that hill into an abyss of mediocrity and total shit from which they have yet to escape...