Raven from the lovely city of Newastle-upon-Tyne have been around for eternity. Well, not really from the beginning of time but most definitely from the time Metal, as we know it today, was born. Of course I am referring to the glorious New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement which started out in 1979, championed by Sounds magazine, and popularized bands like Iron Maiden, Samson, Angel Witch, Saxon and Def Leppard (to name just a few). The N.W.O.B.H.M. was indeed the starting point of a lot of different Metal subgenres: from Prog (Shiva and Legend from Jersey), to Black Metal (Venom), Pagan (Cloven Hoof, Pagan Altar), Doom (Witchfynde, Witchfinder General), Sleaze Rock (Silverwing) and Street Metal (Vardis) etc. Actually, Raven predated all mentioned bands (and styles) as they were originally formed as early as 1974 (by the Gallagher brothers who always formed the core of the band). In 1977 Raven found a solid line up with Paul Bowden on second guitar and Mick Kenworthy on drums. In 1980, as they were snatched up by the local Neat Recors label, Raven made history. For a lot of Metal historians their debut single “Don’t Need Your Money” (with “Wiped Out” on the flipside) marked the birth of Speed Metal. Arguably, over in the States Anvil and Exciter claimed to have invented Speed Metal (years before Metallica no doubt) but neither can look back on a band history stretching back to the mid-‘70’s!
Raven released their debut album “Rock Until You Drop” in 1981, followed by the fantastic “Wiped out” a year later. Both albums pre-dated the term Speed Metal but lightning fast numbers like “Lambs To The Slaugther” (from “Rock Until You Drop”) or “Faster Than The Speed Of Light” (from “Wiped Out”) left no questions unanswered as to who was the fastest band in the world!
Time moved quickly though and soon US acts like Metallica and Slayer overtook Raven who were never really able to fullfill their potential. Luck was never on their side. But John and Mark Gallagher have always been making music from the heart. And they never gave up. Whenever there was a record company willing to release a new Raven album, the band went into the studio and recorded a new set of songs.
That’s exactly what they did for “Walk Through Fire”, the latest Raven album consisting of 15 songs. According to John Gallagher, the European CD release of “Walk Through Fire” took quite a while to materialize: “Well, we released the album in Japan in March 2009 but it took time to arrange our deals in the USA and Europe and that’s just the way it worked out. But we are happy we are working with SPV in Europe!” High Roller Records is proud to release “Walk Through Fire” on vinyl in a strictly limited edition. By the way, which was the last Raven album to be released on vinyl before “Walk Through Fire”? John Gallagher takes some time to come up with the correct answer: “That would be the ‘Heads Up’ EP, I believe - a nice loud pressing!” A live version of “The King” is the bonus track on the CD, as John explains: “Ah ha ... that’s from Tokyo 2009 ... just a soundboard tape but its a cool version of a song
we're having a lot of fun doing live!” It was also John’s idea to cover “Space Station No.5” by Montrose on “Walk Through Fire”: “We were in the studio and had just finished tracking a song ... probably the last one we were going to do, I just said ‘we should do a cover ... how about ‘Space Station No. 5’?’ and ‘bang’ we did it there and then ... first take! It’s a killer song from a classic album!”
As Raven have been living in America for such a long time, do they still feel as a British band, as a N.W.O.B.H.M. band? John nods:” Basically yes ... you can take the boy out of Newcastle, but you can't take Newcastle out of the boy!” The original cover artwork of "Walk Through Fire" (both on the Japanese and SPV CD editions) reminds me of a cross between "Rock Until You Drop" and "All For One". Was that really the idea behind it? Mister John Gallagher confirms: “Yes, the cover idea was from the Japanese record company - they wanted something to evoke the feel of the older album covers and they did a great job!” Indeed they did. But for the exclusive (and very limited) High Roller vinyl edition a new (even superior) sleeve has been done. Enjoy!
Some reviewers have criticized the sound of the new album for being too old school. I think that is stupid as Raven is old school Athletic Rock and that's it ... John totally agrees with me: “That is a ridiculous thing to say: ‘too old school’! What do they want us to do ... tune down, remove all melody, play blast beats and have me sing like the cookie monster? In other words ... play shit? Sorry ... that’s not gonna happen - we actually ENJOY making QUALITY music!” I could not have closed off this article any better ...