Raining Blood

Last updated
"Raining Blood"
Song by Slayer
from the album Reign in Blood
ReleasedOctober 7, 1986
Recorded1986, Los Angeles, California
Genre Thrash metal
Label Def Jam
Composer(s) Jeff Hanneman

"Raining Blood" is a song by the American thrash metal band Slayer. Written by Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King for the 1986 studio album Reign in Blood , the song's religious concept is about overthrowing Heaven.

Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead work. The lyrics often deal with social issues and criticism of The Establishment, using direct and denunciatory language, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.

Slayer American thrash metal band

Slayer is an American thrash metal band from Huntington Park, California. The band was formed in 1981 by vocalist and bassist Tom Araya and guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. Slayer's fast and aggressive musical style made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax. Slayer's current lineup comprises King, Araya, drummer Paul Bostaph and guitarist Gary Holt. Hanneman and drummers Dave Lombardo and Jon Dette are former members of the band.

Jeff Hanneman American guitarist

Jeffrey John Hanneman was an American musician, best known as a founding member of the American thrash metal band Slayer. Hanneman contributed both lyrical and musical material to every Slayer album up until his death in 2013 and wrote the songs "Raining Blood", "War Ensemble," "South of Heaven," "Seasons in the Abyss," and "Angel of Death," all of which have been played at almost every live Slayer performance after their respective compositions. He had his own signature guitar, the ESP Jeff Hanneman Signature model.


The song is four minutes and fourteen seconds in duration. It ends with a minute of rain sound effects. Described as a "classic" by Allmusic, [1] it is noted by fans as one of Slayer's most popular songs. As an almost permanent addition to their live sets, both Hanneman and King acknowledged it as their favorite song to play live. Many of Slayer's live performances of the song have been captured on the band's live albums and also multi-band compilation albums including MTV2 Headbangers Ball .

Sound effect artificially created or enhanced sounds, or sound processes used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media

A sound effect is an artificially created or enhanced sound, or sound process used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media. These are normally created with foley. In motion picture and television production, a sound effect is a sound recorded and presented to make a specific storytelling or creative point without the use of dialogue or music. The term often refers to a process applied to a recording, without necessarily referring to the recording itself. In professional motion picture and television production, dialogue, music, and sound effects recordings are treated as separate elements. Dialogue and music recordings are never referred to as sound effects, even though the processes applied to such as reverberation or flanging effects, often are called "sound effects".

A compilation album comprises tracks, which may be previously released or unreleased, usually from several separate recordings by either one or several performers. If by one artist, then generally the tracks were not originally intended for release together as a single work, but may be collected together as a greatest hits album or box set. If from several performers, there may be a theme, topic, time period, or genre which links the tracks, or they may have been intended for release as a single work—such as a tribute album. When the tracks are by the same recording artist, the album may be referred to as a retrospective album or an anthology.

<i>MTV2 Headbangers Ball</i> 2003 compilation album by Various

MTV2 Headbangers Ball is a heavy metal compilation album released in conjunction with the MTV program, Headbanger's Ball. It is the first in a series of compilations and was released approximately five months after the program re-debuted on MTV2. The first disc consists largely of singles by mainstream bands while the second disc features lesser known groups of intense musical style. Nearly all the tracks had a music video which aired on Headbangers Ball in 2003.

There have been many appearances of the song in the media and elsewhere, including the South Park episode "Die Hippie, Die", and the video games Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock , where it is considered difficult to play.

<i>South Park</i> American animated sitcom television series

South Park is an American adult animated sitcom created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone and developed by Brian Graden for the Comedy Central television network. The show revolves around four boys—Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick—and their exploits in and around the titular Colorado town. Much like The Simpsons, South Park uses a very large ensemble cast of recurring characters. It became infamous for its profanity and dark, surreal humor that satirizes a wide range of topics towards a mature audience. Parker and Stone developed the show from The Spirit of Christmas, two consecutive animated shorts. The latter became one of the first Internet viral videos, ultimately leading to South Park's production.

"Die Hippie, Die" is the second episode in the ninth season of the American animated television series South Park. The 127th episode overall, it originally aired on Comedy Central in the United States on March 16, 2005. In the episode, Cartman works to rid South Park from an infestation of hippies. The episode parodies the 2003 film The Core.

<i>Grand Theft Auto: Vice City</i> 2002 open world action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is an action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 29 October 2002 for the PlayStation 2, on 12 May 2003 for Microsoft Windows, and on 31 October 2003 for the Xbox. An enhanced version was released for mobile platforms in 2012, for the game's tenth anniversary. It is the sixth title in the Grand Theft Auto series and the first main entry since 2001's Grand Theft Auto III. Set within the fictional Vice City, based on Miami, the game follows Tommy Vercetti following his release from prison. After he is caught up in an ambushed drug deal, he seeks out those responsible while building a criminal empire and seizing power from other criminal organisations in the city.

Writing and concept

"Raining Blood" was written by Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. [2] D. X. Ferris said that "when Hanneman wrote the song, he envisioned a scene from a dark street or bloody back alley", and later went on to say that the song "described a banished soul awakened and hungry for vengeance." The second verse was written by King, who "pick[ed] up on Hanneman's title and in his new direction". [3] The song, along with the rest of Reign in Blood , was recorded in 1986 in Los Angeles, California, with producer Rick Rubin. [4] [5]

Kerry King American musician

Kerry Ray King is an American musician, best known as a guitarist and songwriter for the American thrash metal band Slayer. He co-founded the band with Jeff Hanneman in 1981 and has been a member ever since.

<i>Reign in Blood</i> 1986 studio album by Slayer

Reign in Blood is the third studio album by American thrash metal band Slayer, released on October 7, 1986 by Def Jam Recordings. The album was the band's first collaboration with producer Rick Rubin, whose input helped the band's sound evolve. The release date of the album was delayed because of concerns regarding the lyrical subject matter of the opening track "Angel of Death", which refers to Josef Mengele and describes acts such as human experimentation that he committed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. However, the band's members stated numerous times that they did not condone Nazism and were merely interested in the subject.

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

Hanneman explained that "it's about a guy who's in Purgatory 'cause he was cast out of Heaven. He's waiting for revenge and wants to fuck that place up." King later said that "the rest of the song explains what happens when he starts fucking people up. The lyrics 'Return to power draws near' is because he's waiting to get strong enough again to overthrow Heaven. And then 'Fall into me, the sky's crimson tears' is everybody's blood flowing into him. So basically, 'Raining Blood' is all the angels' blood falling on him." [6]

Purgatory intermediate state after death for undergoing purification, pronounced by Christian denominations including the Roman Catholic Church

Purgatory is, according to the belief of some Christians, an intermediate state after physical death for expiatory purification.

Heaven Place where beings such as gods, angels, spirits, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to originate, be enthroned, or live.

Heaven, or the heavens, is a common religious, cosmological, or transcendent place where beings such as gods, angels, spirits, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to originate, be enthroned, or live. According to the beliefs of some religions, heavenly beings can descend to earth or incarnate, and earthly beings can ascend to heaven in the afterlife, or in exceptional cases enter heaven alive.


"Raining Blood" is four minutes and seventeen seconds long, and is Reign in Blood's closing track. [7] [1] The song is one of three songs from the album that exceeds three minutes in length. [1] Steve Huey from Allmusic proposed that "Reign in Blood opens and closes with slightly longer tracks (the classics 'Angel of Death' and 'Raining Blood') whose slower riffs offer most of the album's few hints of melody." [1] The song's music was written solely by guitarist Hanneman [2] (who was also a primary writer of the song's lyrics), who presented both hostility and anger in his writing. [1] Huey also noted that "the riffs are built on atonal chromaticism that sounds as sickening as the graphic violence depicted in many of the lyrics", and said that it was "monstrously" and "terrifyingly evocative". [1]

Electric guitar electrified guitar; fretted stringed instrument with a neck and body that uses a pickup to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals

An electric guitar is a guitar that uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals. The vibration occurs when a guitar player strums, plucks, fingerpicks, slaps or taps the strings. The pickup generally uses electromagnetic induction to create this signal, which being relatively weak is fed into a guitar amplifier before being sent to the speaker(s), which converts it into audible sound.

Clay Jarvis from Stylus Magazine wrote that the song possessed "a red-herring, scorched-earth intro, eerie thunderstorm-and-tom-tom-triplet interlude and one of the most recognizable riffs in metal history. It is a dynamic, explosive and fitting end to a remarkable, violent experience." [10] D. X. Ferris wrote, author of the 33⅓ book Reign In Blood ( ISBN   978-0-8264-2909-4), that the song "lunges to life with its core riff, the ten most recognizable notes in metal, a diminished-scale run down the fretboard that's the most badass guitar riff since Black Sabbath's 'Sweet Leaf'." [8] Guitarist Kerry King said that "The intro is big with the two harmony and then the first beat that Dave [Lombardo] does, that double-kick thing, and it's like this backwards gallop that gets the crowd going wherever you are." [9] The piece ends with a full minute of "rain sound effects," closing Reign in Blood. [11]

Live performances

"Raining Blood", along with Reign in Blood's opening track "Angel of Death", is an almost permanent addition to Slayer's live set-list, and was Hanneman and King's favorite track to play live. [12] At the end of the Still Reigning DVD, there is a finale with the band covered in fake blood during the performance of "Raining Blood". [13] When asked which song holds best, both Slayer guitarists replied "Raining Blood". Hanneman admitted that he "still love[s] playing that song live. You'd think we'd be tired of it – I mean, I'd love to know how many times we've played it live. That would be really interesting." King said "we could be playing in front of Alanis Morissette, and the crowd loves the part." [9]

King told D. X. Ferris that "whenever 'Raining Blood' comes in the set, it just electrifies the whole crowd. People just shit when you hit the first few notes. Like 'Jesus Christ it's a guitar, settle down.'" [6] In the past, Slayer used fake blood to cover their bodies when performing the song live. However, when asked about using fake blood in future performances, King remarked "It's time to move on, but never say never. I know Japan never saw it, South America and Australia never saw it. So you never know." [14]


The song was featured in the 127th South Park episode, "Die Hippie, Die", which aired on March 16, 2005. [15] Slayer guitarist Kerry King found the episode humorous and expressed his interest in the show, mentioning it in an interview, saying "It was good to see the song being put to good use. If we can horrify some hippies, we've done our job." [14]

The song was also included in the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in-game radio station "V-Rock". [16] "Raining Blood" is a playable song in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock , where it is renowned for being one of the hardest songs in the Career Mode setlist: a 2008 job advertisement for future Guitar Hero playtesters listed the song as one of four that potential applicants had to be capable of playing on the highest difficulty level. [17] The song is also featured in Guitar Hero: Smash Hits , with the first and only five note chord in the series. [18] It was released as a downloadable song for Rock Band 3 on April 10, 2012, along with "South of Heaven" and "Seasons in the Abyss". It was also released as a downloadable song for Rocksmith 2014 on May 19, 2015 as part of the Slayer Song Pack. [19] [20]

At the mixed martial arts event UFC 97 on April 18, 2009, fighter Chuck Liddell made his penultimate appearance in the UFC and used "Raining Blood" as his entrance music. [21]

Cover versions

Tori Amos

In 2001, the song was covered by Tori Amos on her studio album Strange Little Girls . The cover of "Raining Blood" was suggested by bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who told Amos that she "had tried pretty much every other genre of music, from rap to new wave to punk to country to pop, why not some metal?" [22] Meldal-Johnsen chose the album Reign in Blood, and after listening to it, Amos agreed to make a cover version of "Raining Blood". [22] In an interview, she stated that upon first hearing the song, the imagery she thought of was "this beautiful vulva [laughs] ... raining blood over this male abusive force". [23]

King states the cover was odd; "It took me a minute and a half to find a spot in the song where I knew where she was. It's so weird. If she had never told us, we would have never known. You could have played it for us and we'd have been like, 'What's that?' Like a minute and a half through I heard a line and was like, 'I know where she's at!'" [24] In response, Slayer sent some T-shirts to Amos, which she said was appreciated. [25] Hanneman echoed similar sentiments as King and noted that when their band arrived late for a festival, Amos generously let them play their entire set although she had been scheduled during that time. [26]

Other cover versions

The song has also been covered by Malevolent Creation, Havok, Natalie Prass, Body Count, Vader, Diecast, Quiet Company, Reggie and the Full Effect, [27] and Erik Hinds, who covered the entire Reign in Blood album on a H'arpeggione. [28] The guitar riffs from "Raining Blood" and "Mandatory Suicide" were sampled by rapper Lil Jon in the song "Stop Fuckin Wit' Me" from the 2004 album Crunk Juice . [29] It was Rick Rubin's only collaboration with Lil Jon on the record. [30] Jon wanted to create a "black version" of Suicidal Tendencies' song "Institutionalized". [31] The New Zealand drum and bass group Concord Dawn produced a drum and bass cover version on their album Uprising , on which they partially sample the famous opening riff of the song.


Stylus Magazine's Clay Jarvis said that the song is fit to be the closing song for Reign in Blood, and also noted that the song, along with other songs from Reign in Blood, has "manic, hacksaw guitars, monsoons of double-bass drum rolling and from-the-throat barking—all note-perfect and precise—that still smokes the asses of any band playing fast and/or heavy today". [10] J. Bennett affirmed that the song "still make[s] other metal bands sound like frail pussies". [32] Steve Huey said that it was a classic, and that its "slower riffs offer most of the album's few hints of melody". [1] Erik Hinds from About.com said that the piece has unexpectedly become a ballad. [33] Derrick Harris, an editor of the official newspaper of University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, said that it had a "blistering solo". [34] It peaked at number 64 in the United Kingdom, where it would stay on the chart for three weeks. [35]



Chart (1987)Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) [35] 64

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Further reading