Slayer’s penultimate song, “Raining Blood,” is one of those tracks you show to someone when they ask you what heavy metal is. One listen, and it’s hard to come away with anything but a profound understanding of what this genre is about. We’re talking about perfection here, which makes it a tall order for any band to cover. Still, some were up for it and we’ve rounded up the 10 Best Covers of Slayer’s “Raining Blood.”
This song is the reason outsiders think metal is subliminal, wicked and evil. It has the same effect that haunting tritone in Black Sabbath’s eponymous song invoked in 1970 — some things are just that undeniably sinister. Obviously, its impact was felt by generations of metal musicians, all of whom are indebted to the almighty Bay Area thrash legends.
Now, we must issue a warning to thrash puritans — head for the exit or revoke your right to complain that there’s more than just “true metal” on this list.
Reggie and the Full Effect
If you didn’t think danceable electronic melodies could mesh in any way with Slayer, you probably weren’t the only one. The good news? You’re not alone in being wrong. It’s Reggie and the Full Effect out to silence doubters in this club-ready rendition of one of metal’s most hallowed classics. It’s tough to keep pace with this one amid the riotous noise rock and its off-kilter arrangement, but that’s the fun. We realize that might be tough to understand if your idea of fun is carving a band’s logo in your forearm — just trust us, okay?
Poland’s original death metal institution, Vader, borrowed considerably from Slayer’s pummeling blueprint laid out on Reign in Blood — all early death metal bands did. Slayer redefined heaviness in 1986 with a lasting impact and, here, Vader repay the favor. This is the most honest recreation of a song of this stature until after the breakdown where the Poles engage their patented, mechanized rhythms and ratchet up the speed until the whole thing crashes and falls apart, fading out ever so gently in the wake of destruction.
This is a cover we’ve talked about a handful of times throughout the years here at Loudwire. What singer/songwriter and “chamber pop” star Tori Amos did could not be more opposite of the thrashing slaughter discharged by Slayer many decades ago, yet it instills a similar, unsettling vibe that conveys the power of minimalist music. When there are less notes to go ‘round, they all matter that much more — fine, we’ll throw you the “it’s the notes you don’t play” line if you must have it…
If you don’t know the history of Body Count’s formation, Ice-T gives you the scoop right from the jump. He precedes “Raining Blood,” which appeared on the band’s 2017 album Bloodlust, with a quick explanation of the band’s roots and various influences, noting his wish for his band to adopt a level speed and precision on par with Slayer. Fit For An Autopsy’s Will Putney puts the hurt on with a chest-caving production and Ice’s delivery, while not mirroring the darting cadence of Tom Araya, is teeming with attitude.
Today, it’s quite common to hear classical interpretations of venerated rock and metal songs. Pre-dating this craze were Vitamin String Quartet, who formed in 1999 and have since released dozens upon dozens of albums dedicated to rock, metal and pop artists. Classical music and metal have many commonalities, so naturally this version is pretty frightening as violins screech like nails clawing at the Earth as Hell’s minions drag you into the fiery abyss, readying your soul for eternal damnation.
Havok exist in a unique space on this list — a modern day thrash band equally fueled by thrash’s originators and the death metal offshoot they helped inspire. Here, we get a twofer as the group took on the lead-up track, “Postmortem,” too. The pairing of these songs feels almost obligatory as “Postmortem” plunges into chaos, finding its phoenix rebirth in those menacing opening notes of “Raining Blood.” There’s a tense but playful sense with the tempos — just a bit — which gives this otherwise clinical rendition its feral edge.
Back when genres were a way of life and nay shall any two ever entangle for if so, the world shall crumble, one band that hardcore fans and metalheads saw eye to eye on was Slayer. The band, in many ways, represents the overlapping section of metalcore’s Venn Diagram — we didn’t look, but there has to be one on Reddit, right? The speak-yell-scream vocal thingy of Massachusetts’ Diecast isn’t a turnoff — a heretical statement if you’re a bozo elitist — and those riffs sound pretty sick slowed down a bit, like when you mess around on the turntable compulsively toggling between 45RPM and 33RPM.
Metalachi — where heavy metal (unstoppable force) and mariachi music (immovable wall) collide, resulting in sonically obscure delights. Or not. Admittedly, this kind of thing presents a reasonably difficult hurdle to mount, but for those high-jumping tastes of open-minded headbangers, you just won’t get this anywhere else and, hopefully, you don’t go anywhere else for your track and field-addled metal metaphors (metalphors!).
Don’t let the word “Satan” in this band’s name deceive you (even though Satan is all about deception — see what they did there?) Driving Mrs. Satan are an acoustic indie trio, proving Slayer’s immense influence was even more profound than any self-certified heavy metal historian has measured. Well, only if the Tori Amos cover earlier hadn’t already convinced you of such things.... Anyway, this is a relaxed, sunny day stroll about the usurping of worldly powers signaling the ensuing apocalypse — real lemonade-sippin’ stuff from Driving Mrs. Satan.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star
No covers list would be complete without a nod to the folks behind Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star. They put newborns on the righteous path toward heavy metal fandom straight out of the womb with their lullaby takes on rock and metal tracks. Who ever thought you could be lulled to sleep by Slayer? We know there’s a bunch of you out there who probably nap to actual Slayer recordings and our hats are forever tipped toward you savages.