Back Into the Abyss – Slayer revisit their 1990 album on tour

Back Into the Abyss
Slayer revisit their 1990 album on tour

by D.X. Ferris

On this summer’s American Carnage tour, two of the biggest old-school thrash bands are performing classic albums from 1990. Megadeth are playing the guitar landmark Rust in Peace, and Slayer are tearing through all of Seasons in the Abyss, an album that helped pave the way for other classic records — including Jeff Buckley’s debut and one by Cleveland’s Integrity. Seriously.

Abyss’ bone-dry production represents Slayer at their tightest. The hesher heavyweights were always palatable to punks, and the album’s sludgy slow jams were influential to a wave of hardcore bands like Integrity. It was co-produced by Rick Rubin and engineering ace Andy Wallace, who later mixed Nirvana’s Nevermind and produced Buckley’s Grace. Rubin is still the band’s executive producer, but back then he and Wallace were active participants in the creative process.

Guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King had dominated the previous albums’ lyrics and music, but Abyss is heavy on singer-bassist Tom Araya’s songs. He penned four of Abyss’ ten tracks and co-wrote another two with Hanneman, who was his roommate during the recording. Araya recently looked back on the album and broke it down, track by track.

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