Well stone the crows! NWOBHM legends Raven have really upped their game with new studio album Metal City. Brothers Mark and John Gallagher remain from the original line up formed in Newcastle Upon Tyne 1974. For many years I’ve said this is where NWOBHM started and I still do.
Released via Steamhammer/SPV on September 18th 2020, these ten tracks on their fourteenth studio album blaze along furiously with a spotlight stealing performance from new drummer Mike Heller. The ex Fear Factory/Malignancy sticks man is a force to be reckoned with!
Their first two studio albums Rock Until You Drop and Wiped Out, released via Neat Records in 1981 and 82 heavily influenced the thrash metal movement and almost forty years later Raven still have that firepower running through their veins, point proven by album opener ‘The Power’.
There is plenty of power in store here as it’s all full throttle proto thrash served up on waves of manic riffing, the trademark wail from John and furious kick drums. It goes even more crazy with a guitar and bass guitar battle midway.
‘Top Of The Mountain’, first single released from Metal City is traditional heavy metal. No frills, just count it in and watch it fly out of the traps. John whoops and wails over a bullish drum assault as choruses contain lashings of melody. Not to be outdone, Marks fingers fly over his fretboards midway and this furious number ends on a blast beat outro.
The killer main riff for ‘Human Race’ make it an early contender for being my fave track. Vocals are spat out to reflect the subject of the state of our planet. A brief moment of calm comes from a laid back riffed midsection with gripping melodies.
The title track is as close as they’ll get to a ballad here. It’s based on their home town of Newcastle Upon Tyne which makes the vocals even more poignant. Point proven by “I come from a land where there’s no tomorrow, we’re fighting for today. In our past we’ve been cursed by war and sorrow, but stubbornly we’ve found our way”.
Mental metronomic drum patterns drive along the bare knuckled brawl of ‘Battlescarred’. Huge call to arms choruses hit hard and heavy. A pit opening instrumental midsection ups the metal ante.
‘Cybertron’ sees a futuristic tinge to the lead vocals and snare overload snaps at your ankles like a rabid dog as Mark lets rip midway with fretboard burning lunacy.
Mike must have calf muscles like grapefruits to power along ‘Motorheadin’. This two and a half minute speed metal whizz adds a few nods to Motorhead by its delivery and there is an ethereal image of Lemmy in the CD inlay artwork. A nice touch! Another nice touch to their hometown is the last page of the artwork which is a big nod to Viz magazine in its design.
‘Not So Easy’ is all gritted teeth bombast with another hate fueled lead vocal as gang like choruses fire it up even more.
‘Break’ is all knockout blow dynamics and is my favourite track by a unanimous decision. Even by their high standards this is really over the top, point proven by a breathtaking instrumental midsection.
The album finishes on a triumph with the six minute epic ‘When Worlds Collide’. An Earth moving gargantuan groove sees them take a break from the speed as they crunch through this mighty mosher.
Raven band line up :-
John Gallagher – Bass guitar/lead vocals.
Mark Gallagher – Guitar, backing vocals.
Mike Heller – Drums.
Metal City album track listing :-
Top Of The Mountain.
Not So Easy.
When Worlds Collide.
Band links and videos from Metal City can be found below :- http://www.ravenlunatics.com