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The end of an era - 90%

dfry, May 16th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, American Recordings (Remastered)

Slayer burst into the 1990s exactly the way one would expect: with aggressive speed, murderous lyrics, and an album cover that looks like it was finger-painted by Manson and Bundy.

“Seasons” was a reassuring album and it needed to be, as the climate of metal was changing significantly in the late 80s . The rise of funk and alternative metal had already corrupted a few hallowed artists at this point (Mordred and Death Angel had both begun to flirt with it). Death metal was still a few years away from taking hold internationally. From the very first cut, the punishing double-bass and machine-gun riffing of “War Ensemble” was a call to arms – Slayer were back, still the leading titans of metal, and the idea that they would ever release a weak album? Unthinkable! This band was an incorruptible, unstoppable force or, so it seemed at the time.

As the album plays out, it becomes obvious that the band is truly firing on all cylinders, thrashing cuts like “Spirit in Black” and “Born of Fire” blasting away with trademark intensity, Hanneman and King trading crazed solos over the speeding din. Even slow burners like the chugging “Skeletons of Society” find the band clearly in their element; riffing simple and effective, Araya belting out verse after twisted verse, the chorus doubled with eerie spoken accompaniment. Sure, “Dead Skin Mask” sounded like a creepy rewrite of “South of Heaven”, so what? It’s not like Slayer are running out of ideas! The 6+ minute title track is one of their greatest accomplishments, moving from Sabbathy crawl to clean melody to slashing riff crunch, all executed flawlessly, Lombardo pounding and pattering like a freak of nature. Overall, a collection of strong material, speed and power delivered in abundance. The band is obviously sticking with a winning formula as fans expected. If this lineup had stayed intact, who knows how many more quality releases could have been sustained.

The Clash of the Titans tour and world domination would continue for the next few years (I’m glad I bit the bullet and paid the outrageous 1991 price of $25 to see the Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, and Alice in Chains on the same bill. I almost passed on it!) At any rate, the unsuspecting metal hordes had no idea this was the end of the band’s strongest era.