Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

The First Home Run from Neat Records - 90%

ballcrushingmetal, April 22nd, 2019
Written based on this version: 1981, 12" vinyl, Neat Records

The trio from Newcastle brought out under the Neat Records label what became their most memorable release, and it proved to be much more consistent and fresher in terms of songwriting than what the band released afterward. Their musical offer is pretty much summarized by the album's cover; basically, an explosion of demonic proportions, widely inspired by the 70s British glam rock (more specifically, Sweet) and by Judas Priest. The result of the mix is quite astonishing; while the traces of glam rock provided a party feeling and a very happy sound, the band, on the other hand, remained loyal to the heavy, speedish and hyperactive style characterizing the NWOBHM from the outset.

The band opens the album in a surprising fashion with "Hard Ride", which is perhaps, far from being their most powerful number as it is not really speedish. Still, it is, however, a very fittable warm-up, considering what they prepared in the next numbers. The signs of chaos and speed are present in the next number, "Hell Patrol", which besides, features a very impacting vocal performance from John Gallagher and an outrageous section in which he shouts for more than 30 seconds! The seven-minute-long closing number "Tyrant of the Airwaves" steps on the border between speed and thrash metal. Its intensity merely owes to the non-stop drumming from "Wacko" Hunter, who constantly displayed his vitality throughout the album. Moreover, the guitar playing from Mark Gallagher also provided memorable moments, as is the case of the riffs included in the lines of "Don't Need Your Money", as well as the harmonic progressions played in the song's chorus. According to the band, this number was inspired by a money lending issue that the group had with Tygers of Pan Tang. Anyway, regardless of the circumstances surrounding its creation, the track remains as an all-time classic for the band, and even, for the NWOBHM.

The album also features a pair of covers from The Sweet, which perfectly fit its predominating songwriting style and shows an essential component of the group's style. Although the British glam rock influences are very present, it is also true that the Britons' own touch played a significant role in their sound, and helped these guys differentiate themselves from other acts. In summary, the energetic and explosive performance displayed herein make of this record a quintessential work that would be never be seen again, and it also represents a very successful debut for Neat Records, regardless of not being as commercialized as Maiden's debut. An essential release for those interested in the NWOBHM history, but also, it is the album that could easily survive in the land of the free and the home of the brave and stand the test of time. If the NWOBHM is your passion, you should immediately get this album.

...And Rock Until they Dropped they Certainly did - 85%

Superchard, March 21st, 2019

...And Rock until they dropped they most certainly did, whether you want to take that literally within the context of the sheer relentless, raucous energy of just this album, or literally within the sense that they became washed up by the mid-80's. Perhaps more controversial than they ought to be, depending on who you ask, Raven either wrote the compendium on what a new wave of British heavy metal band should sound like, or was destined to be the cheesiest major act of the scene. There would be no inbetween with Raven given their exaggerated, over the top delivery both on and off the stage. In the interest of not sounding like a crotchety old man that just doesn't get it, I'm going to go ahead and declare myself a fan regardless of their major hiccups later on in their career. When it comes down to it, The Pack is Back was nary an afterthought at the time of this release, and Rock Until You Drop simultaneously raised hell while bringing the circus to town, and trust me when I say this; I get it, NWOBHM isn't the "in" thing anymore, but there is certainly nothing more "metal" than a hellish circus.

For those of you unfamiliar with the band, no Raven doesn't isn't an avant-garde demented carnival, quite the opposite.They don't exactly break any new ground for the rock n' roll world at all as a matter of fact, but what they do do, is perhaps inject more ravening energy into the rock n' roll formula than perhaps anyone to come before them. An impressive feat no less, and when accomplishing such a task, it's only inevitable that you will stand out from the rest of the competition. With John Gallagher's voice being one of the most consistently hyperactive set of pipes I may have ever heard, (even King Diamond eased up a little bit here and there) it's easy to make the joke that perhaps the band got its name from John's characteristic screams that are comparable to actual raven caws, but I'm only scratching the surface here. You know the crazy cocaine addicted clown from the show Metalocalypse? Yeah, I'm pretty sure they got the idea for that character from John Gallagher himself.

But this is rock n' roll, a genre entirely dedicated to wearing a freak flag for the sake of expression, aka art. It's understandable that the kids nowadays probably wouldn't understand given how uncool of a concept that's become. Sorry normies, this ain't a Jack Johnson open mic night so saddle up and grow some thicker skin or move on to the shoegazer or dubstep scene all the hipsters are obsessed with for how mature and sophisticated they think it makes them look for listening to it. Newsflash: if you're just like everyone else, there's really nothing sophisticated about you. Lest I digress, let me tie this rant in with this review by saying that Raven are not like everyone else from their respective genre, and I find that very few bands of the era sound anything alike for that matter. They may not be reinventing the wheel, but it's all about one thing with this band: delivery.

That and not sucking, anyway; having the capacity to comprise some really good songs that'll stick in your noggin' long after you've listened to it, and despite his off-kilter vocal delivery, John proves to be able to contend with the highest of shriekers such as Rob Halford himself. His brother Mark is no joke either at his respective instrument, essentially providing the spine of Raven's sound melding punk rock with a pinch of blues and even throwing in the occasional power metal flair with some more epic and grandstanding moments that one would not come to expect from a band to write more straightforward, no bullshit rockers like "Don't Need Your Money" and "Hard Ride". All the while being heavily inspired by the glam rock scene of the 70's, they would go on to cover not one, but two Sweet songs including "Hellraiser" and "Action". Now you might expect me to say that the inclusion of two covers on the album might degrade it at least a little bit, but considering the amount of amazing content actually on the album at an endearing near-hour stretch, six minutes worth of covers is small potatoes, and it's not as if the covers don't fit the mold the band was going for. The only track present that deviates away from the crazed rock n' roll here is the short acoustic instrumental that's over before you can blink titled "39/40", a show of display that bears little impression other than "oh wow, Mark can do that too". Great!

Be prepared for complete and total destruction with this one, and of course keep your mind set on the fact that it was recorded in 1981, so sure, it may be antiquaited... perhaps even obsolete by some more modern-minded listener's standards, but if you're like me and you enjoy taking that time machine back to when the NWOBHM scene was very much alive and kicking, this is one for the history books right alongside classics such as On Through Night, Filth Hounds of Hades, and Tygers of Pan Tang's Spellbound.

Superchard gets super hard for:
Don't Need Your Money
Tyrants of the Airways
Hell Patrol

The spirit of Britain w/o an I or M in the name - 90%

Gutterscream, February 11th, 2006
Written based on this version: 1981, 12" vinyl, Neat Records

“…get into metal. That`s what it’s about…”

Pure energy. The stunning debut full-lengther from not only Raven, but also Neat Records, is frenetic fury that rode the brewing Euro-metal storm as if it had a saddle and made mincemeat of just about every other album that had the unfortunate timing of being released that year. A grossly underrated lp as far as I’m concerned, it can bully Loudness like a freckled pre-schooler, smacked around Saxon, Samson and Saracen, possessed the confidence and fluency Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol were still striving for, and unlike Motley Crue, failed the commercial test. Still, Neat Records was but an eyelash on the body of metal, and because of its mild distribution Rock Until You Drop was destined to splash small in a large growing market. Today, the three-piece is often adored by those who heard them over the years, though I still meet young metal mongers on a regular basis who’ve only just ‘heard of’ the group and pass them off as ‘some old metal band with a guy in a hockey mask’. - sigh -

If you’re gonna jump up and down over Maiden’s Killers, you may as well dedicate a jumping jack to this. It's the least we can do. The reason why many don't is because Raven, despite being one of the first half dozen or so important original bands (that should be) mentioned when speaking of early NWOBHM, have the uncanny ability to become invisible. Their albums aren't collectible, their compilation inclusions are a dime a dozen, and the sad truth is that they haven't survived time all that well. Maiden has 'cause you can't go into a blue collar, non-old man bar and not find Maiden in the jukebox or a DJ who doesn't have at least a self-made, mostly generic 'best of' disc within reaching distance. I'd rather hear "Take Control" over "The Trooper" any day simply because it's just not played...ever.

Usually a trio doesn’t have the amplitude to fill the resonance of a five-piece, but Raven pull it off. Tandem guitar odysseys are a bit on the infeasible side for a three-piece, but top honor track “Over the Top” and the commanding “For the Future” feature passages of such that are bold bordering on heroic, and describing Raven’s simplistically savory sound as heroic doesn’t happen every day. Okay, so maybe the album’s knob-twiddler overlapped the guitar tracks for the illusion, but it still sounds cool. Either that or guitarist Mark Gallagher can bend sound physics to his will. Vocally, John Gallagher’s enthusiastic and often shrilling mid-tone is wilder and more compelling (and to some more annoying) than Di’Anno’s mostly straight-shot confines. Unshaven shrieks that can blow light bulbs to pieces aren’t uncommon, and the electrifying “Hell Patrol” is a magnet for them.

Of all the songs, opener “Hard Ride” received the most radio exposure and maybe it’s not the most creative of the band’s stuff, but its conventionalism steers a course that’s clean and fun without losing its underground ruggedness. Like many of the early British bands, catchiness not overtly complex pervades their songwriting like an enjoyable infection as heard in “Don’t Need Your Money”, “Action”, and the rest of the stable. Wordless acoustical ditty “39-40” and a rest stop in the middle of the tumultuous “Tyrants of the Airways” are the only intermissions where the band isn’t rockin’ out.

While many artists were slowly venturing into more cryptic conception where tales of life and death, the occult, and other off-Broadway topics are spun with a fiendish grin, Raven never seemed interested in setting more than a foot on the dark paths that probably looked inviting. “Hellraiser”, “Hell Patrol” and “Lambs to the Slaughter” may seem kinda inky on the surface, but like “Nobody’s Hero” the album’s dynamism is nothing but up-tempo and adrenaline-injected – a good time album at all angles.

Let’s face it, there isn’t a NWOBHM band that hasn’t had sand kicked in its face by Maiden’s popularity. That’s just the way it is, and Raven’s small but flourishing fan base couldn’t even begin to change that, but any of their stuff prior to their Americanization (i.e. Atlantic signing) is worth hearing. Very soon, they’ll create ‘athletic rock’, probably the hokiest metal style ever proposed that began and thankfully perished, big red pustules and all, with this band.

It’d be pressing to find a more hard-charging effort of ’81.