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The true Gallagher brothers return! - 77%

Daemonlord, July 12th, 2011

A welcome return for the music world's REAL Gallagher brothers (the metal ones, naturally); brothers John and Mark of NWOBHM men Raven, who along with former Pentagram drummer Joe Hasselvander behind the kit, release their first album in 10 years – and their twelfth overall. I've always been selective over NWOBHM bands, as over the years I found that not all that were lumped under the banner suited my taste, many keeping a bit too close to the hard rock territories of their forefathers. I found that bands such as Angel Witch, Blitzkrieg and Maiden pushed into new, very much 'metal' worlds with a harder vibe and a more urgent sound when held in comparison to some of their NWOBHM brethren, which was much more up my alley.

Raven call their own music 'Athletic Rock'(!), but they've always fallen onto the better side of the NWOBHM fence for me personally. Come 2010, Raven sound as reassuringly fresh and vibrant as ever. Of course their sound has evolved over the years, but the Raven spirit is still there for all to hear, occasionally harking back to the heyday of debut 'Rock Until You Drop' and 'Stay Hard'. There's a large dosage of rocking, classic heavy metal riffage to be heard throughout this album, with a great cocky, snarling vibe to some of the songs that adds an extra edge to the proceedings.

Having come through their fair share of bad luck, accidents, and bereavements in the ten years between this album and the last (2000's 'One For All'), these three guys have obviously never let their passion for rocking heavy metal die. Although there are a few more 'rock' styled tracks, with catchy hooks and choruses (comparing the hard rock commercialism of 'Running Around in Circles' to the speed metal bombast of 'Against the Grain' is like listening to two different bands), the album as a whole falls very much into the metal camp. Just one listen to 'Attitude' will surely have you pumping your fist like it was 1981 again... well, if you were alive back then; personally I was 2!

Fair play to Raven for keeping it metal through all the years since forming way back in 1974, and still managing to release an album of new material 36 years later which stands up against their classic material. An impressive feat, and an impressive album. Check it out.

Originally written for

Same old, same old, and thankful for it. - 86%

hells_unicorn, September 15th, 2010

I’m fond of metal clichés, because despite the fact that they never change, they never fail to put a smile on my face. There is no greater cliché than the notion of a small fold of metallic warriors sticking it out, against all of the capricious changes in mainstream sentiment, and continue to offer the same fast, sleazy, hard edged, high octane blast of rock infused heavy metal that burst out of Great Britain between 1978 and 1983. But such is the story of England’s own Raven, who’ve been smashing the shields of easy listening junkies with the mighty sword of metal for more than 30 years.

With their latest album “Walking Through Fire” there’s no beating around the bush, no time for making nice with current day trends, nothing but the finest brand of that same hammer pounding speed metal that inspired James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine to push metal into the beginnings of thrash. The riffs are fast and raucous, yet heavily reminiscent of the archaic pentatonic style of too fast for rock riffing that typified Dio’s reinterpretation of the Black Sabbath and Deep Purple approach. This approach is pushed a little bit closer to Raven’s later 80s albums, which were informed a bit more by the thrash scene, but they are not totally out of character for a NWOBHM band, and actually flirts with Metal Church territory at times.

As far as the entire album goes, barring the occasional slow rocker, this album seems like its trying to outdo Judas Priest at their fastest and most vicious, yet still maintaining an aura of a band seeking good times like Skid Row. Speaking of which, apart from the obvious similarities that exist between vocalist John Gallagher’s rowdy performance on here and the sleazy vocal attack of later metal singers like Blackie Lawless and Mark Boals, I can’t help but detect a similar spirit to that of Sebastian Bach. Naturally a band like this had a strong influence on all these singers and their respective bands, though Raven’s earlier take on the genre is more heavily informed by Motorhead’s grittier, nastier approach, and it really shows here in spite of a fairly polished production.

There really isn’t much to gripe about here, save the occasional down tempo stinker like “Long Day’s Journey”, which see the band backsliding into pre-metal rock clichés and scaling back the combination of speed and power that works so well for them. Just one listen to lightning bolts like “Against The Grain”, “Grip” and “Attitude” and even the most cynical trustee of the notion that metal hasn’t done anything great since 1990 will be won over. Some may go for younger retro bands to get their latest fix of the old school, but speaking for myself, there’s always time to get it straight from one of the bands that first brought it to us.

Originally submitted to ( on September 15, 2010.

35 years and they still rule - 90%

autothrall, November 13th, 2009

2009 marks the 35th year of existence as a band for Raven, even though their debut released in 1981. 35 fucking years of heavy metal, can you imagine that? Worth a clap and a nod in any case, but Raven goes one beyond that because they are still releasing material that kicks ass! Walk Through Fire is their 12th proper full-length and it contains all of the energetic speed and thrash-infused NWOBHM we've come to expect. The album most reminds me of their late 80s material, which is some of their greatest (Life's a Bitch and Nothing Exceeds Like Excess).

The guitar feedback swells up for an intro piece before "Against the Grain" volleys forth like a silo of warheads aimed straight at your ass. This is hot stepping frenzied riffing with John Gallagher's fun vocalizing, which ranges from a seductive mid range to his slightly off-kilter wails and squeals. "Breaking You Down" places your balls directly in a vice and begins hammering them with 80s hard rock flair and a mean, thrashing verse, laden in brother Mark's quirky fills. "Under Your Radar" is targeted more directly for the speed/power fans, killer double-bass driven metal without any lack for spastic leads and melodic grace. "Walk Through Fire" kicks some ass with its shifty chords and meaty thrash foundation, not to mention the classic Raven vocal hook for the chorus. Excellent. "Bulldozer" is a heavy dose of blues metal which could start a brawl in any backwards pub in the universe (if not, the universe is no longer worth living in). Other great tracks include the pummeling "Grip" and the sultry, melodic "Armageddon".

Walk Through Fire sounds just like the band in their heyday, even if it benefits from a modern studio setting. Though the band thrives off its explosive energy and 'fun factor', there is surprising depth to many of the compositions. Never is a lead wasted, they are always catchy and inserted into the tracks at the exact right moment. This is easily the band's best release in quite some time...actually about 20 years. Nothing Exceeds Like Excess was probably the last Raven I enjoyed this much, and I may end up liking it even more. This is a band of survivors who deserve all the accolades one could heap upon them. The real deal. I only hope I can remain as metal as them when I reach their age.