Much has been written about Geordie trio Raven’s impact on Thrash and Speed Metal in the early ’80s. So much so that they’ve become legendary because of their ultimate failure to break the big time in the way that, those of us around as they smashed their way through the NWOBHM movement, may have expected.
Raven – Leave ’em Bleeding (Steamhammer / SPV)
Release Date: 30 September 2022
Words: Paul Hutchings
Regardless of the modest success that Raven have achieved over the past 40+ years, the brothers Gallagher have continued to soldier on, creating albums that vary in quality but always stick to their path. In recent years Raven have produced some rather tasty work, with their most recent albums ExtermiNation (2015) and Metal City (2020) standing comfortably alongside the likes of seminal releases Rock until You Drop and Wiped Out.
Leave ’em Bleeding is a reminder that the band are still alive and kicking, with the threat of a UK tour a distinct possibility. Although it’s probably aimed more at the hardcore fan, there’s plenty to interest the more casual Metal fan.
Apart from anything else, it’s a demonstration of the firepower that Raven still possesses, with Mark and John now ably backed by the machine-like drumming of Mike Heller, who has Fear Factory amongst his former charges.
Three tracks are drawn from Metal City and two from ExtermiNation – along with a ferocious live version of ‘Crash Bang Wallop’, drawn from the 2019 Screaming Murder Death from Above: Live… album. These show the modern Raven with the high tempo and energy of old alongside John Gallagher’s insanely shrill vocals.
It’s the six bonus tracks that are likely to get the Raven loyalists more excited. Necessary Evil is a poignant song, one of the first three tracks that the band recorded after Mark Gallagher’s serious accident in November 2001, when the guitarist was half-buried by a six-meter wall.
It demonstrates that even in adversity, the band had true grit and determination.
There are two covers included. Montrose’s Space Station #5 originally appeared on the 2010 album Walk Through Fire and is a song that the band routinely used to end their set in the early years. It’s a fabulous cover of a rock classic and gets the head nodding.
Thin Lizzy’s Bad Reputation is the other track to get the cover treatment, and as self-proclaimed Lizzy fans, Raven do the song justice. The demo version of Malice In Geordieland, an outtake from the 2015 recording sessions, raises a smile, with an unheard recording of Rock This Town from 2018 and a live version of Stay Hard recorded by an employee at a gig at The Vanguard in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2017 rounding off this sweet package.
With the Gallaghers now in their sixties, they show no signs of slowing down despite qualifying for their bus passes. If you’ve wondered what all the fuss was about, then Leave ’em Bleeding is a good place to start your exploration.
Now, where are those UK dates?