Raining Blood is one of the biggest hits released by Slayer. The opening riff falls in the category of the best trash metal riffs. If you like Slayer, and you play guitar also, you certainly want to learn it on your guitar.
How hard is it to play Raining Blood on a guitar?
It is very hard to play Raining Blood on a guitar. Advanced guitar skills are needed to learn it. If you’re a guitar beginner, avoid this song. Fast alternate picking, gallop and whammy bar techniques need to be mastered before attempting to learn this song.
In this article, we’re going to analyze the song, part by part. In every part, we’re going to highlight what guitar techniques are used. You’ll see what you need to know prior to learning this song. Also, you’ll read about general tips that help learn this song in the most painless way.
PS. Every part of this song has a time stamp highlighted (in heading). You can see when a certain part begins and where it ends.
Opening Riff (0:33 – 0:44)
Opening riff of Raining Blood is the famous trash metal riff. Here are the guitar techniques used in playing this riff.
First three notes of this riff are played with downpicking technique. Dowpicking is a technique widely used in trash metal genre. It is incredibly easy to get tired when playing downpicking rhythms. Dowpincking demands a strong hand, and strong wrist.
Make sure you know how to donwpick, at least on some solid level, before learning this riff.
Read about how to develop downpicking technique the easiest way.
Palm muting is related to downpicking. That’s because most of the times you downpick, you need to mute the strings with your palm.
You don’t want strings to ring out. Palm muted strings is what makes the sound tight. Tight sound is a sound of rhythm guitar in trash metal genre.
Make sure you practice palm muting. Without proper palm muting guitar playing sounds sloppy and muddy.
After the first three downpicked notes (open low E – 0 0 0), the rest of the riff is played with alternate picking technique. Also, you have to transition between three lower strings on your guitar. Those strings are D, A and E.
Make sure you have your alternate picking technique developed.
Gallop (0:44 – 1:06)
Galloping part is very fast. It is a gallop because the first three notes of each measure are played. Those are 16th notes, so you play 0-0-0 four times per bar.
How to approach this part? Gallop is essentially an alternate picking + palm muting. You have to use a metronome to slow down a tempo.
Slow it down to the speed you’re comfortable with. Then gradually speed up each time you feel comfortable enough to do it. Patience is the key.
Fast Part (1:06 – 1:23)
This is the most difficult part of the song. It is a super fast rhythm played on a low E string. It is an alternate picking technique that is used for playing this.
Again, you can’t learn this without metronome. Slow it down and then gradually speed up. It takes a lot of time to nail this part.
Verse (1:23 – 1:39)
This part begins with the singing. It’s the combination of gallop, palm muting and power chords. What’s peculiar about this part is that it requires a high level of finger dexterity.
Finger dexterity is needed because it’s so easy to sound sloppy and muddy without maximal focus.
To develop a finger dexterity, you have to practice a lot. The best exercise for dexterity development is called the spider exercise. Take a look. Do this kind of exercise every day. After a few weeks, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in your playing.
It makes your playing tight and not sloppy.
Bridge (1:39 – 2:00)
This part uses downpicking and legato techniques. We already talked about downpicking technique, above. What’s new is legato.
Legato consists of hammer on’s and pull off’s. These require strong fingers. Strong fingers are needed to pull a string with your finger, or to hammer on a string with your finger.
It is a nuanced guitar technique. The best exercise for development of your hammer on’s and pull off’s is called a finger gym exercise.
Practice it every day for 10 minutes. Don’t overexercise this one, because your fingers can easily get sore.
Bridge #2 (2:11 – 2:21)
This is the easiest part of the song. It is a rhythm that has only two downstrokes at open E string. You have to palm mute the string each time you pluck it.
Bridge #3 until Solo (2:21 – 2:54)
This part is derived from the opening riff. It is very similar to the opening riff. Like the opening riff, it is a combination of downstrokes and alternate picking.
Last 5 seconds of this part is a fast, alternate picking rhythm. Open E string is picked fast with alternate picking.
You may want to use metronome to practice fast picking on a low E string.
Solo (2:54 to the end)
The solo has two guitar techniques. String bending + whammy bar technique.
Bending demands strong fingers. Guitar beginners have weak fingers. That’s why beginners should avoid playing this solo.
Bends used in this solo are nuanced and are not easy to perform at first. You have to practice string bending a lot before you nail the sound right.
Read about how to make your guitar strings bend easier.
Whammy Bar Technique
Along with string bending, whammy bar is heavily used in the solo. Slayer is known for its whammy bar in their solos. Make sure you’re familiar with whammy bar. Try to find a right amount of pressure on whammy bar.
After some time, you’ll naturally develop that touch.
Here are some general tips. If you comply to these tips, you’ll learn Raining Blood in a much quicker way.
Use a Metronome
You can’t learn any trash metal song without a metronome. It is a powerful tool. You can’t expect yourself to play Raining Blood on the tempo right away.
Use a metronome to slow down a tempo. Slow it down to a speed you’re comfortable with. Then gradually increase the tempo every time you feel comfortable. Just be patient.
Take a Rest
Taking a rest is crucial. It is often an overlooked advice in a guitar world. Unless you’re a guitar master, you can’t expect yourself to play the whole song after one session of learning.
Your body needs rest. In particular, your fingers need a rest. After some time of playing, you’ll often notice the tiredness in your fingers. When you notice it, take a rest.
Sometimes a 5 or 10 minute rest is all you need. But sometimes you’ll need a day off. Muscle memory needs to develop, and taking a rest is what develops your muscle memory.
Taking a rest is an integral part of learning process.
As you probably noticed, Raining Blood demands a high amount of finger dexterity. You don’t want you fingers to fly around a fretboard without control.
That’s why you need to focus on this part. Finger dexterity is generally one of the most important aspects of guitar playing. Make sure you pay attention to this. We already mention the famous spider exercise.
Watch & Listen
Watch live shows of Slayer playing Raining Blood. Or, even better, watch another YouTube videos of Raining Blood covers. By watching and listening, you’ll see the exact finger movements. That way you’ll learn the song quicker.
I hope this article provided you with a good bit of information. If you enjoyed reading it, I’m more than happy about it. Raining Blood is that type of song that’s fun to play on a guitar.
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Cheers, and rock on!