A Heavenly Revenge
In 1986, Slayer released their groundbreaking studio album “Reign in Blood”, and with it, one of the most iconic tracks in heavy metal history: “Raining Blood”. A thrash masterpiece written by Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King, the song has since become a thunderous statement in the genre. Recorded in Los Angeles with renowned producer Rick Rubin, its 4 minutes and 14 seconds encapsulate the raw power of metal.
The soul of “Raining Blood” lies in its concept of overthrowing Heaven and a banished soul seeking vengeance. Hanneman envisioned a dark street or bloody alley, and King’s verse described the ensuing chaos. The imagery paints a picture of a soul in Purgatory, waiting to take revenge on Heaven. The titular “Raining Blood” symbolizes the blood of angels falling, making it one of the most visceral narratives in metal.
Crafting the Iconic Riff
What makes “Raining Blood” unforgettable is its iconic guitar riff, created by Jeff Hanneman. Inspired by punk bands like Wasted Youth, T.S.O.L., and Minor Threat, the simplicity and eerie quality of the riff have made it resonate with listeners. Though initially unimpressed, King later came to love the riff, while other band members, Dave Lombardo and Tom Araya, loved it from the start.
What makes “Raining Blood” unforgettable is its iconic guitar riff, created by Jeff Hanneman.
Guitarist Kerry King explained the importance of the intro, saying, “The intro is big with the two harmony and then the first beat that Dave does, that double-kick thing, and it’s like this backwards gallop that gets the crowd going wherever you are”. The riff’s complexity and unexpected success have etched it into metal history.
A Legacy Resonating Through Generations
The song’s impact has not waned over the years. Described as a “classic” by Allmusic, its aggressive sound and thematic content have made it a landmark achievement in thrash metal, reflecting the genre’s aggression and fast tempo. Its recognition has even reached video games like Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, where it is famous for being one of the hardest songs.
An almost permanent addition to Slayer’s live sets, both Hanneman and King acknowledged it as their favourite song to play live. The full minute of rain sound effects that close “Reign in Blood” adds a final atmospheric touch, encapsulating the song’s unique character.
“Raining Blood” remains one of the most recognizable riffs in metal history, a clear indication of Slayer’s enduring influence.
From the dark imagery of its lyrics to its chaotic sound and iconic riff, “Raining Blood” continues to resonate with fans worldwide. Its legacy is not only heard in the music that followed but felt in the headbanging hearts of metalheads everywhere. Its ability to unleash chaos, both on stage and in the minds of its listeners, makes “Raining Blood” a timeless classic, forever echoing in the halls of metal greatness.