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SOUND BITES

SlayerSeasons in the Abyss

Def American Recordings

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As if Halloween were a perpetual state of mind, speed metal band Slayer arises from the heavily marauded catacombs of splatter music with Seasons in the Abyss.

Like the movie genre it emulates, Slayer eschews subtlety for shock effect, embalming the lyrics with dark fantasy comic book cliches and corrupting the music with rapid-fire staccato trade-offs between guitars and drums. Some of the dual guitar lines are played in haunting minor thirds, bringing the axemen close to the alter of the pagan god of death metal, the Guitar Hero.

No lessons or morals lie here, just the self indulgent Gothic ravings of some high school kids in Black Sabbath concert T-shirts.

Virtually indistinguishable from the slew of bands that took Spinal Tap's tongue-in-cheek morbidity seriously, Slayer nevertheless knows its hallowed vampire territory and stakes it well.

_ JEFF JACKS

The Cocteau Twins

Heaven or Las Vegas

Capitol

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The Cocteau Twins successfully ignore media hype and fan expectations. The trio has followed its own course of development from 1982 debut Garlands through latest offering Heaven or Las Vegas. On the strength of an ethereal sound the Twins have escaped any critical definitions.

Echoing production and intricate melodies present themselves with the hugeness and the drama of a vivid dream. The slight ring to guitarist Rob Guthrie's style, the dreamy progressions of Simon Raymonde's piano, and above all vocalist Elizabeth Fraser's siren-like delivery, fill Heaven or Las Vegas's ten tracks with big, billowing sound-scapes. Vague song titles _ Iceblink Luck, Fotzepolitic, etc., and Fraser's incomprehensible lyrics mean the Twins' sound is highly personalized.

_ STEVEN VOLK

Soul Asylum

And the Horse They Rode In On

A & M/Twin Tone

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The number of marvelous releases in this otherwise flaccid music year can be counted on one hand. Thanks to Soul Asylum's new release, however, it's time to raise another finger.

This Minneapolis band structures its songs oddly, but rocks hard and earnestly enough to escape any artsy pretensions. The band has an unabashed post-punk style.

But Soul Asylum's sixth time around finds the band members formulating their own version of '70s-sounding dinosaur rock. Still, And The Horse They Rode In On can't be classified as retro-rock.

_ LAURA TAYLOR

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