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Show No Mercy 2: Electric Boogaloo - 82%

TrooperEd, February 11th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1990, CD, American Recordings

Upon further research I had an epiphany: while most see this as a second South of Heaven (or an attempt at a second Reign In Blood), the truth is this album, palette wise, has much more in common with the debut album than anything else. Unfortunately, Slayer seemed to have forgotten/shed most of the songwriting NWOBHM tendencies that made Show No Mercy such a shredding satanic monster. There's more varied material for sure, but the quality....Temptations is no Face The Slayer, and Dead Skin Mask damn sure is no Crionics.

There's also the problem of the fast songs starting to feel kind of derivative. I love both Hallowed Point and Born of Fire, but they feel almost interchangeable at times. Unfortunately, either Dave's drumming, (or the band's songwriting) seems to have fallen into a one rote fast tempo. Whilst I have some issues with Reign In Blood, repetitive fastness was certainly not one of them. I never felt at any point that I was listening to one long drum machine fast rhythm with assorted riffs. On Reign In Blood, the band was subtly able to make each fast song feel different. Darkness Descends managed to do it even better and make each song even more distinctive, but I digress.

It's also not a particularly good sign when the first riff on the first song of the album sounds like it was recycled from the first riff of the first song on your seminal album. Make whatever death threats you will, but War Ensemble just isn't a perfect song in my eyes because of this Angel of Death plagiarism. It's a damn shame, because the rest of the song is absolutely fantastic. The mind-bending verse riff (why the hell wasn't that the intro?! Don't want to run it into the ground I guess); Dave Lombardo's career defining solo; "IT'S HOW MANY PEOPLE I CAN KILL"; Kerry's nightmarish tapping guitar solo around the 3:35 mark....goddamit couldn't they have chosen another root note or something to start the whole thing off with? No, instead we get an almost pandering riff begging the fans that were alienated with South of Heaven to come back. See kids? We still love Reign In Blood. Reign In Blood! Reign in Blood!

There are some genuine classics here and not 90% ones like War Ensemble. Those songs are Blood Red, Hallowed Point, Spirit In Black, and the malevolent title track. Goddamn I fucking love the title track. Very rarely do I listen to songs on repeat when I first pick up an album but that was one of them. Sometimes I would get super impatient and skip right to the end of the album just to hear it. Anyone who dislikes this pandemic piece of pyramid pageantry is a hipster, a cunt, an asshole, a dweebie, or some miserable tumblr feltching combination of all four. You want dynamics in your Slayer? Behold the middle eastern clean guitar lick that makes you cringe as the hot desert sands slice through your face. You want a chorus? Close your eyes and forget your name. You want a monster of a guitar solo? As much as I love my beloved Crionics, I can't disagree too much with anyone who wants to say this was Jeff and Kerry's finest lead moment. Rumor has it that Kerry took some guitar lessons before recording Seasons, and good on him because it shows.

It's so strange to me that South Of Heaven was seen as experimental and Seasons In The Abyss is seen as a return to thrash roots. So much so when talking to metal veterans they would recommend I get this album first. If anything I think these folks have it backwards. Seasons feels the overall slower of the two with a much smaller thrash-to-non-thrash ratio. Which isn't to say the non-thrash parts are bad, though they definitely yield mixed results. On certain days Dead Skin Mask is alright, and other days its every bit as bad it's harshest critics says it is. Skeletons of Society, everyone says this one is underrated but I think the word they actually mean is interminable. The song is only the 4th longest track on the album yet it feels 7 minutes too long, especially with that outro. And then there's Temptation. Piece. of. Shit. If Slayer, for you, died in a horrible gardening accident after 1991, then this is by far their worst song. I can't hit the skip button fast enough when this turd starts. They kept this in the setlist after their American Carnage tour where they played Seasons In The Abyss front to back live. Talk about a need to exit piece by piece. From the anus.

Seasons In The Abyss is the last attempt at what was once the most brutal band in the land trying and ultimately failing to retain that title amongst the oncoming storm of black and death metal. It's not a failure, and can very much be seen as one of the best metal albums of 1990, but hindsight is a harsh mistress. For better or worse, it has dictated that when this was when the cracks in the armor revealed themselves.

Recommended tracks:
Seasons In The Abyss
Blood Red