Review Summary: Slayer's Last Masterpiece2 of 4 thought this review was well written
The best way I can describe 'Seasons In The Abyss' is that it is a more intelligent version of 'Reign In Blood'. 'Reign In Blood' has relentless riffs that pummel the ears and bang the head, thrash-y shouts and adrenaline-fuelled drumming. For those who are not impressed by this may want to look to 'Seasons In The Abyss', as it has all those points on top of dynamic song-writing, variation and more complex song structures. Essentially, this is 'Reign In Blood' plus 'South Of Heaven' with no compromise.
For example, 'War Ensemble' is similar to 'Angel Of Death' from 'Reign In Blood', but also has it's own vibe to it, which is the same case as with the title tracks from this album and 'South Of Heaven'. This makes 'Seasons In The Abyss' sound like a summary of their best work and would have been a brilliant album to end on. Sadly, Slayer continued and, as a result could not live up to this album, no matter how hard they tried with 'Christ Illusion' and 'World Painted Blood'.
Anyway, back on the subject of this album, the production sounds at least a decade ahead of it's time which, if it was released now (in 2013), would fit right in apart from having more dynamics than the rest. This is probably due to the level of polish and punch in the sound being absolutely massive compared to pretty much anything beforehand. This is some of the the best album production in all of thrash metal.
The performance on the album is certainly worthy of applause, with each member of Slayer giving arguably their best performance yet, as the riffs are balanced perfectly in intensity, the drumming contains ruthless aggression and talent, the vocals roar with manic power and the bass is... still invisible, but it doesn't damage the album, as it wouldn't suit high energy bass playing. Overall, some great talent is shown through this album.
This is also an album which is ingeniously paced: 'War Ensemble' starts off the album with a bang, 'Dead Skin Mask' slows the album down, 'Hallowed Point' kicks the album back into gear and the title track is the album's doom-y grand finale. No track feels out of place or below-par - all 42 minutes of the album are pure joy to Slayer fans.
In conclusion, 'Seasons In The Abyss' stands as the last classic Slayer album and the best Slayer album (joint with 'Reign In Blood') that should be thought of as one of the best metal albums of the 90s along with masterpieces such as 'Rust In Peace', 'Symbolic' and 'Painkiller' instead of being overshadowed by 'Reign In Blood' like all other Slayer albums apart from that. On the other hand, that album cover is a bit poor, isn't it?