31. Slayer, 'Seasons in the Abyss' (1990)
Although it wasn't the sort of genre-defining or landscape-changing work that 1986's Reign In Blood was, Slayer's fifth LP, 1990's Seasons in the Abyss, might actually be the most focused start-to-finish album the band has made to date. Seasons seamlessly blended the thrashy aggression of their early work with the doomy swagger of 1988's South of Heaven. Themes of violence, death and gore permeated the lyrics of tracks like "War Ensemble," "Expendable Youth," "Hallowed Point" and especially "Dead Skin Mask" – the Ed Gein–inspired meditation that remains Slayer's quintessential serial-killer song – while bassist Tom Araya, drummer Dave Lombardo, and the peerless guitar tandem of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman matched that intensity in songs that ranged from the frenzied ("Born of Fire") and eerily atmospheric (the title track, for which the band would issue an evocative video, set at the foot of the Sphinx). "I just think we just wanted to keep being Slayer," King once said. "There were a lot of bands that had built careers by copying what we had done and we wanted to show everyone we could still do it better." D.E.