Slayer (United States Of America) – Seasons In The Abyss

For such a loud and fast album with so many riffs, ‘Seasons In The Abyss’ sure is a boring one.  This is the first time I’ve had an entire album full of songs I remember very well, not because they’re actually good, but just because they’re designed to be memorable.  I actually find the benighted later albums of Slayer to be more interesting than this; at least they’re less middle-of-the-road.  I hate mediocre things much more than I do genuinely bad ones, so this album gets a lot of ire from me.

So there’s two songs on this album: fast, thrashy ones, and slower, more melodic ones.  Neither category is very exciting, particularly when the latter ones are so openly groove-laden and overtly accessible.  ‘Dead Skin Mask’ is the most typically scorned for its fairly dumb main riff and silly vocal performance, but I think ‘Skeletons Of Society’ is even more fundamentally awkward and openly unnecessary.  The title track is probably the best song on here, probably because it sounds like it came from earlier in the band’s career, to some degree.  It’s at least moderately entertaining, most of all in the enjoyable if somewhat cheesy chorus.

The fast songs all just run together.  ‘War Ensemble’ is a kind of Slayer classic, though I’m not sure why: it’s just a collection of fast riffs and drumming and vocals with no real substance to it.  It’s just a list of thrash conventions, really.  I like ‘Spirit In Black’, ‘Hallowed Point’, and ‘Born Of Fire’; they more or less sound aggressive and convincing.  But then there’s tracks like ‘Expendable Youth’ which are just complete abortions from top to bottom, or ‘Temptation’ which isn’t offensive but just fizzles out lamely.  ‘Blood Red’ is filler.  Oh wait, it looks like that’s all the tracks.  There’s little content here.  Four out of ten tracks are worth listening to.  Not a very good ratio by Slayer standards.

Production and playing are adequate if unexceptional, as you would expect.

Honestly, I just expect more from the band, and if they can’t deliver more, I expect much, much less.  This is an inoffensive album which occasionally gets my head nodding, but apart from that, doesn’t really move me in any way.  It’s still Slayer; there’s a lot of atonal solos, ‘classic’ thrash riffing (though it seems more by-the-numbers and uneventful than ever), and Araya screams and shouts a lot and supposedly plays bass though you couldn’t tell it from the mix.  If you particularly care a great deal about Slayer, get it, otherwise, Slayer is dead, ‘Reign In Blood’ is the best album ever because it’s the fastest, Slaaaaayeeeer, ‘Hell Awaits’ was better, etc.

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~ by noktorn on February 17, 2008.

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