Dissonance Productions [Release date 02.06.17]
Formed in the mid 70s by brothers John and Mark Gallagher, initially with twin guitars and progressive rock leanings, Settling as a threesome, with drummer Rob Wacko Hunter, Raven were an integral part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Their self styled brand of Athletic Rock was, along with bands like Jaguar, a major influence of the speed and thrash metal scenes, including Metallica.
Dissonance have reissued three early albums, albeit not consecutive albums. But given how underrated and oft overlooked the band are, these excellent packages are more than welcome.
The band’s 1981 Rock Until You Drop, issued on the Newcastle metal label Neat, was 11 tracks of serious stripped down high energy metal, adding some serious punch to the genre. Raven were the opposite end of the spectrum to more melodic bands of the genre like Def Leppard.
Bassist and lead vocalist John Gallagher screams like his life depends on it, and guitarist Mark providing high octane riff after riff. ‘Don’t Need Your Money’ is a genuine bone fide classic; metal thrashing mad and catchy to boot.
‘Hard Ride’ and ‘Hell Patrol’ will strip your mind and get you rocking whether you like it or not, and the cover of the Sweet’s ‘Hell Raiser / Action’ is well worth a listen too. Three bonus tracks too and you get your money’s worth. ***1/2
Skipping 1982’s Wiped Out (an essential part of the catalogue) we get All For One, the third and last full studio album for Neat. It’s just as blistering, and although opener ‘Take Control’ is a little chunkier it’s still full on, the screaming shared by vocals and guitars alike. ‘Sledgehammer Rock’ and the title track shred with aplomb.
Still stripped down and totally mad, there are hints of a melodic side, a direction the band would nod more towards in the mid 80s as the management pushed the band Stateside as they signed with Atlantic.
Personally I love the Atlantic material but the more hardcore fans consider the first three albums the golden age. ‘Search And Destroy’ another classic by anyone’s standards. Several bonus tracks include singles that saw a couple of duets with Accept vocalist Udo Dirkschneider. Steppenwolf’s ‘Born To Be Wild’ a touch a class. The scream of the crop. ***1/2
Named after the opening intro and final track (originally from Wiped Out), Live At The Inferno is a classic double live LP that gets crammed onto a CD here and is a serious force to be reckoned with. Tracks from across the first three albums, ‘Crash Bang Wallop’ does just that, and like ‘Faster Than The Speed Of Light’ describe the band’s sound well. The closing track ‘Live At The Inferno’ is 7 minutes of total madness and completes 19 tracks of intensity that few could keep up with. ****
There’s a whole lot more than Venom and Diamond Head to the likes of Metallica, Raven are well up there too.
There’s a lot more catalogue to explore, I suggest you do, and I hope the label do too.
Review by Ed Stone
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