Still under the control of Chinn and Chapman, The Sweet continued their new-found run of success in 1973 with this barnstormer - and it's real hard rock/metal crossover stuff with changes a-plenty making a real cut above the run-of-the mill.
Hell Raiser has always been one of my favourite Sweet songs, ever since I saw them performing for the first time on Top of The Pops, at the tender age of 9. This was it - this was the music for me, although I wasn't too sure about the glittery costumes. When I later got into the NWoBHM, and Raven covered this song, I could only kick myself for not thinking of covering it myself - but 6 years is a long time in pop music, and like almost everyone else, I'd forgotten just how great this is.
Listening now, the tingles still run up and down my spine as the guitars chug ferociously, the drums escape the "wompah dompah" Glitter Band style beats momentarily in wild, Keith Moon style episodes, and the music breaks down in exciting, unexpected episodes that remind me of Randy Rhodes in some ways, all topped with Connelly's frighteningly wild vocals and the outrageous Queen-style harmonies.
This is perfection, and in comparison with NWoBHM material, pure heavy metal through and through. The fact that Glam Metal even exists as a genre is enough to verify this statement. There are plenty of similarities here with music that Judas Priest was later to record.
Flip it over, and, true to form, you get the heavier, less chart-friendly material. Burning is a really gruff stomper, half way between Queen, Uriah Heep and Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song". As a song, it's not as strong as Hell Raiser, but as a piece of music it's fascinating - Connolley actually sounds like Freddie Mercury at some points, performing "Great King Rat" - doubtless another influence on this hybrid.
The song jets off into power metal territory for the guitar solo, which despite the inexpert execution goes off all over the place with dive-bombing more commonly associated with metal from a much later period, and other theatrical gimmicks. It all holds together well, and remains intriguiging, espeically with all the theatrical sound effects - spot the talking clock and some manic laughter.
I'm giving Hell Raiser the full 5, even though the flip is more like a 3 and a half.
Hell Raiser is where it all begins - the wild core of metal. Even the title of the song says it all.