Released : 1986
Like some kind of clickbait headline from now, back in 1986 Rick Rubin had one neat trick for making the largely unknown Californians Slayer more resonant: he took off the reverb. Up until that point and on their debut album Hell Awaits, guitarist Kerry King admitted that Slayer were just happy to play fast, without much thought to how the end results would sound. Rubin promptly applied the surgeon’s touch – and as the fog cleared away, a pitch black fantasia emerged.
It was King’s compatriot Jeff Hanneman who created the eerie, haunting atmospherics at the song’s beginning, the kind of theatrical intro more reminiscent of a horror movie score than what would go on to become one of the then nascent genre’s grisliest touchstones. This prelude didn’t last long however before a drum tattoo opened up the gates, listeners sunk head first into a speed-infected nightmare, the verses spat out at hardcore tempo whilst riffs piled up like bodies.
Controversy has dogged Slayer ever since, yet the quartet has never really taken themselves or extreme metal’s pseudo-doctrines as seriously as for instance their Scandanvian counterparts. Raining Blood’s playful ferocity laid out a template for thrash metal, which along with hip-hop was another underground movement that with Rubin’s help would eventually break it’s glass ceiling and conquer a planet becoming hooked on newer, more dangerous thrills.