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Monday, January 23, 2012

"Raining Blood"

Slayer - Raining Blood (1986)

/Now I shall reign in blood!/

Thrash Metal is the metal genre that begot Death Metal and Black Metal. Tying all of those together is the aggressive speed of the guitars and drums. Raining Blood is the final track off of Reign in Blood, the album that many consider to be the best Thrash Metal album recorded. At the time, Anthrax, Megadeath, Metallica, and Slayer were at the top of the Metal heap, each one trying to out rock the other. The trend was for longer and longer songs, powerful riffs repeated with flying fast shredded guitar solos over them. Metallica's Master of Puppets had the longest songs of the albums released by the four bands in 1985/1986.

Slayer had another idea. Cutting the songs down to just the basics: a great riff, fast drums, dangerous lyrics, and a blistering solo, they kept most of the songs on Reign in Blood under three minutes long. Even this four minute and seventeen second final track is actually over a full minute of rain sounds on either side of the song itself. The song starts with rain and drums then the intro riff based on the diminished scale. The main body of the song is fast guitar and bass work, with a hard snare drum sound dominating and keeping everything together. The vocalist is fairly easy to understand, there is no chorus. Just before three minutes into the song, as the vocal part ends, the bass repeats it's riff, the drums start getting faster and wilder, and the two guitars just play like the devil has taken them both, clashing with each other, the bass riff, just getting louder and faster and less musical until a thunderclap clears it all away leaving us with rain ending the track. This is the first metal album produced by Rick Rubin, known at the time for working with L.L. Cool J, Beastie Boys, and Run-D.M.C.

Lyrically the song seems to be about a killer, dead now and trapped in purgatory waiting and dreaming of a chance to overthrow heaven and rule. It could be interpreted as about Satan himself. But honestly, the song isn't about lyrics.Though to be fair, Tori Amos covered it, and it sure wasn't about guitars.

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