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Still hard! - 89%

Metal_Thrasher90, March 24th, 2009

It's curious how as thrash was becoming harder, louder and faster, the most succesful NWOBHM bands were getting into REALLY commercial styles. Just listen to Saxon, Raven, Diamond Head or Def Leppard (specially!) by the mid-eighties while Metallica, Slayer or Megadeth had alreaady released the most killer heavy stuff ever. Raven were following the 80's glam metal trend by 1985, and not only with their music. They later admited it was a big mistake, that's clear if you just compare "The Pack Is Back" with any of their first 3 records. But this one, "Stay Hard" still rocks heavy and the original Raven sound is still there, although it's affected by a focused commercial production.

All the songs here are remarkable raw speed metal tunes, but specially their biggest hit "On And On",a really catchy song which can perfectly be considered a NWOBHM anthem. It's also one of the few band's visual stuff from the 80's. The re-recorded version of their debut album "Rock Until You Drop" classic "Hard Ride" is also a sensible choice, the solos are wilder than the original version and John Gallagher's vocals are even crazier. "Get It Right", the amazing "Extract The Action", "Restless Child" or "When The Going Gets Tough" are full of amazing riffs, fast solos and that proves that the aggression and speed of the early Raven sound was still alive. "Pray For The Sun" was the first band's ballad (not love song, not like Saxon or other bands did) and its just as brilliant as any other song on this album. So the result is really honest and enjoyful, not even the commercial production by Michael Wagener (curiously a legendary killer metal producer) affected notably the final result: a great dispaly of athletic rock (as they described themselves, but its obviously METAL!). Raven still stayed hard by that time, their next album its another part of the story...I gotta admit that I don't think you can honestly put these discs on the same level as the first ones, but they are still good albums.

The remastered edition contains some track from the awesome "Mad Ep" from 1986, also great stuff, probably even more heavy than the "Stay Hard" songs. But anyway, this album is really underrated and I think it deserves to be inlcuded along with the considered best Raven albums, or just along with the most remarkable NWOBHM stuff ever released.