Even for a metal band, Slayer is what you’d call a no-frills combo: no hummable choruses, no power ballads, no apparent sense of humor. Not much of anything, in fact, except jackhammer riffing and absurdly cartoonish antiauthoritarian lyrics about blood, corpses, and the Godless One. Pushing the envelope of its previous album straight out the door, Slayer piles on the grim vocals, the frenetic guitar work, and the gore on Seasons in the Abyss. It’s like listening to a single speed-metal song — the world’s longest.
In other words, Seasons has all the elements of a laughable self-parody, especially with the band’s fondness for rhymes like ”Inert flesh/A bloody tomb/A decorated splatter brightens the room.” To Slayer’s credit, though, the band pulls it off, thanks to its relentless musical drive. The guitars of Kerry King and Dave Hanneman don’t just blare; they slice through the speakers. And George Romero-like lyrics notwithstanding, the antimilitarism ; rant of ”War Ensemble” makes chilling sense in light of the threatened bloodbath in the Middle East. The only bad news is the presence of lickety- split guitar solos — an unsettling sign that the band may be starting to dress up its sonic assault with empty virtuosity. But as long as Slayer keeps it crude and lewd, no one will fulfill a more important goal: providing a soundtrack for 14-year-olds mulling over life, death, and angst in the family basement. B+
Seasons in the Abyss