Slayer has played "Raining Blood" during unplanned virtual monsoons at outdoor shows, provoking massive mudfights, but not quite achieving lyrical symmetry. The song's words clearly call for lacerated skies to leak red gore; crystalline precipitation makes the heavens seem sorrowful, rather than mortally wounded. Slayer tried to set up a splatter storm when touring in support of 1986's seminal speed-metal statement Reign in Blood, but the group lacked the funding needed to simulate this unnatural disaster. Being music's most relentlessly brutal band for 18 years has proved lucrative, however, so for a few select tour dates, including Friday's gig in Cleveland, Slayer will unveil its unprecedented "Wall of Blood."
Slayer has summoned some spectacular stage shows in the past, from ghastly surgery-footage videos to gaudy fire displays that singed upper-deck eyebrows. But it's never tapped the type of special-effects sorcery that will put the gore in Agora. Using a complex sprinkler-and-pump system, the "Wall of Blood" will spew a scarlet stream that measures 25 feet wide and at least 32 feet high. The DVD Still Reigning, released in early November, gives viewers a sneak preview of the liquid carnage, which soaks the group in a 45-second flash flood.
Given that the demonic drenching lasts less than a minute, the real draw is that the group plays Reign in Blood in its entirety. The most efficiently compacted disc in thrash history, this 28-minute masterpiece packs its straight-razor riffs and treadmill-set-to-death drumbeats so tightly that its parental-warning sticker should read "contents under pressure." Reign in Blood ends with "Raining Blood," which Slayer butchered live during the past decade by chopping off its chaotic conclusion. By the end of the evening, longtime fans who have ached for those final apocalyptic notes will have their climactic release, aptly marked by a frothy fountain.