Raven (1975-present): a NWOBHM band from Newcastle, UK.
aven was started in Newcastle, England in 1974 by brothers John and Mark Gallagher (vocals/bass and guitar respectively). Rob "Wacko" Hunter completed the line-up on drums in 1980.
Developed mostly over the first four albums, their style was a precursor to the thrash metal and speed metal that swepped the 1980s & 1990s. One of their unique quirks was wearing sports guards, helmets, and other accessories from various sports and incorporating them into the playing of their instruments (elbow pads and hockey masks were used to strike cymbals). Their music began to develop into a unique amalgam of speed and power.
Their key first four albums were recorded on the famous low budget 'Neat' label, known mostly for its NWOBHM acts. It started by the release of their first single Don't Need Your Money (1980) and opening for bands like Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz, Motörhead, Whitesnake and Iron Maiden in the UK.
Complete with a cover of Sweet's Hellraiser, and another noted track Action, their debut, Rock Until You Drop (1981), was a screeching and pounding slab of pure metal that made 63 in the UK charts. The self-description of "athletic rock" was a good description for the active music it contained (and their use of sport gear). The following albums, however, didn't receive the same acclaim, leaving the market success of Wiped Out (1982), All For One (1983), and their live set Live At The Inferno (1984) under utilized (Live At The Inferno, however, received at least some notoriety, while All For One saw them singed to 'Megaforce Records' and tour the US).
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Although the albums (most especially the first) charted well, commercial success was still eluding them. The manager and founder of 'Megaforce', Jon Zazula, believed that Raven was major-label material and kept them touring constantly until the big labels noticed. With their reputation of a stunning live performance intact, they eventually flew to America where they sealed a deal with 'Atlantic' to release Stay Hard in 1985, an album that saw them tickle the charts ever so slightly with the track/single, On and On.
Although a moderate success in their adopted territory, the album was berated by the UK fans who accused them of selling out and softening up by adopting a considerably more "Poppier" sound for the American market at the encouragement of the label; their reputation suffered a fatal blow as a result. The Pack Is Back (1986) and Life's A Bitch (1987), although confident in musical production, received the same lack of acclaim. However, the band redeemed themselves with the Mad EP (1986) and Life's a Bitch album in 1987, before arranging their departure from 'Atlantic'.
Drummer Rob "Wacko" Hunter left the band in late 1987 to spend more time with his new wife and family. Joe Hasselvander (ex-Pentagram) replaced him.
They then scurried off back home to self produce and record Nothing Exceeds Like Excess (1989), and dropping the silly sports motif for a more standard denim and black leather look. The album received little notice, as was the also self produced follow up, Architect of Fear (1991).
Signing to the Japanese label, 'Zero' to release Glow (1994). The band then toured Japan for the first time in May 1995, and released a live album of the events, Destroy All Monsters/Live in Japan featuring songs from Glow, as well as older cuts such as For the Future.
The band recorded and toured until 2001, when a wall collapsed on guitarist Mark Gallagher, crushing his legs. Raven went on hiatus for nearly four years, from 2001 to 2004, while the guitarist rehabilitated.
Japanese 'King Records' would release the next album, Walk Through Fire (2009). ExtermiNation would follow in late April 2015 consisting of 14 songs plus the bonus track Malice in Geordieland (sung entirely in the Newcastle "Geordie" accent) on the 'Steamhammer' label.
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