The song was written by Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. D. X. Ferris in his book “Slayer’s Reign in Blood (33 1/3)” 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.”
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.
The second verse was written by King, who picked up Hanneman’s title pushed it to a new direction.
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.
The song, along with the rest of “Reign in Blood,” was recorded in 1986 in Los Angeles, California, with producer Rick Rubin.
This song was featured in a South Park episode. Cartman plays “Raining Blood” to frighten hippies declaring that hippies hate nothing more than “Death Metal.” When Kerry King was asked about “Raining Blood” being used in the South Park episode “Die, Hippie, Die,” he stated the following:
It was good to see the song being put to good use; if we can horrify some hippies we’ve done our job.
Guitarist Jeff Hanneman stated:
I still love 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.
Co-lead guitarist Kerry King admitted:
The intro is big with the two-guitar harmony part, and then that first beat Dave [Lombardo] does, that double-kick thing, and it’s like this backwards gallop that gets the crowd going regardless of where you are. I mean, we could be playing in front of Alanis Morissette, and the crowd loves that part.
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.” Hanneman explained:
The raining part – the actual blood raining down on the stage – was something I think I came up with like two years after Reign In Blood came out, but it wasn’t feasible then – we didn’t have the money or the wherewithal to do it, but it was always in the back of my mind. And then I remember – I don’t know, a few years back when that movie “Blade” came out…
And I remember me and Kerry were watching it and I go, “That’s what I want to do! That’s what I want to do!” [Laughs] And then years later, now we finally decided to do this DVD because we’ve been playing with Lombardo and we’ve been playing the entire Reign In Blood album. We were talking about doing a DVD because we’re doing that and we’re playing with Dave again, but we didn’t want to just put out another DVD because we just put out a live DVD. So that whole raining on stage came up again and we made it happen this time.