1979 was Year Zero for a new musical movement in the UK, and a term was coined by Deaf Barton which perfectly summed it up, NWOBHM. I was 16 at the time, listening to Tommy Vance on a Friday night, reading Sounds music magazine, and trying to buy as many singles and albums I could of the phenomenon. One of the issues I had was I lived in a small town in the West of England, and it was incredibly hard to get hold of material. So much so that I wrote to Neat Records asking how I could get hold of their material as no-one stocked it near me! I was soon the envy of my mates as they sent me stickers and badges to try and make up for it, all of them emblazoned with the logo of one of my favourite bands, Raven. There are a few singles from that time which have gone down in history, Iron Maiden’s “Soundhouse Tapes” and Def Leppard’s “Getcha Rocks Off” are just a couple. But in the North East Neat Records were becoming THE label, with one incredible release after another. Within their first ten singles was the debut by Tygers of Pan Tang, Fist, Venom, Blitzkrieg and “Don’t Need Your Money” by Raven (who incidentally were also the first band on the label to release a second single, as well as the first album).
Raven had decided to speed everything up, something they called athletic rock, and was a huge impact on the scene which followed – that both Metallica and Anthrax were given their first touring opportunities with Raven was no surprise to anyone. Over the years the Gallagher brothers (John, bass/vocals and Mark, guitar) have kept the flag flying for their style of metal, and for much of that time drummer Joe Hasselvander has been at the back, but shortly before their 2017 US tour he suffered a heart attack, putting an end to his active music career. After a few temporary replacements, it was quickly decided that Mike Heller (Fear Factory, Malignancy) would be Raven’s new drummer. They settled in to doing what they do best, blasting uncompromising metal into the masses, and when they left the stage at Skråen in November they were presented with a digital copy of the gig they had just performed. What made this unusual is that none of the band were aware it was being recorded, so it was a case of turning up, plugging in, and blasting it out without any thought to what it might mean from a recording aspect.The band has been in existence now for some 44 years, and although I can’t speak for the very early years, what is playing now is a beefed-up version of the same band I fell in love with back in 1980. These guys are showing no sign at all of slowing down, or going down a different path, this is a band still playing “Faster Than The Speed of Light” and meaning every single word. It is harder and faster than it was when they were 30 years younger, and this set is essential to anyone who enjoys this style of music. It is brutal NWOBHM. Turn it up, play it loud, and party as if it 1979, not some forty years later. I may be seeing this with rose tinted glasses given how much I loved this band in my youth, but when metal is a brutal, raw, and bloody excellent as this, then it demands attention. 10/10