RAVEN — Rock Until You Drop (review)

RAVEN — Rock Until You Drop album cover Album · 1981 · NWoBHM Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Newcastle upon Tyne, England was clearly the hotbed of inspiration in the 1980s by not only producing the earliest extreme metal offerings from Venom but also the phenomenal success of Dire Straits and also we can add to that resume the inspirational sounds of the early New Wave of British Heavy Metal band RAVEN! Oh yeah! This band has been cited as one of the earliest that influenced the thrash metal world that would emerge. Hard to believe that RAVEN started as far back as 1974 by the Gallagher brothers, vocalist / bassist John and guitarist Mark. Almost as if RAVEN was the inspiration for the Spinal Tap film where drummers spontaneously combusted and disappeared, so too did RAVEN have a hard time keeping a percussionist but Rob Hunter had the honor of appearing on the band’s first album.

It’s also hard to believe how incredibly complex the metal universe has become and when you go back to these humble beginnings when metal was proudly and defiantly emerging from its parent hard rock sounds of the 1970s, it’s refreshing to eschew the modern murkiness of tech death metal, avant-garde excesses and progressive metal compositions that rival any Western classical masters and just go back to when heavy metal was about adolescent fantasies and party rock! RAVEN’s 1981 debut ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP was the perfect album to usher in the early world of the NWOBHM without all the philosophical existential quandaries and intellectual headiness that would follow. This album just simply celebrated banging your fucking head and rockin’ yer ass off!

Back to the band. RAVEN existed from 1974-79 as a hard rock band so got more than its share of influences from all those bands that had their heyday in that era but with patience waited seven years until its debut album was released. The band did get a lot of attention with the 1980 release of its first single “Don’t Need Your Money” and opened for many of the big players of the day such as Ozzy Osbourne, Motorhead, Whitesnake and even an early Iron Maiden. When the band finally released ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP, a heavy metal starved public was eager to embrace any band that had the gusto to take things to the extreme and therefore this debut was met with enthusiasm. RAVEN was also known for its fiery live performances and has even been referred to as athletic metal due to the bombastic nature of the band’s playing.

ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP could never be mistaken for having debuted at any other timeline than the early 1980s with simple compositions that basically take the hard rock paradigm of blues oriented riffing and simply augmented with faster tempos, more extreme guitar solos, more ambitious drumming and a somewhat goofier vocal style where John Gallagher juxtaposes macho growling vocals with sudden King Diamond-like falsettos. The tunes are all catchy but not sophisticated. The album comes off as somewhat of an AC/DC styled blues hard rock only sped up a few notches with more biting irreverence that would fuel the world of speed metal along with the darker sounds of Venom that would inspire new bands to develop the world of thrash metal.

Yeah by the standards of the 21st century RAVEN can sound a bit goofy as the band was more of an inspiration much like neighboring Venom than actually crafting anything that could be the pinnacle of achievement but sometimes just plain old good fun is enough to win the day. ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP was for all intents and purposes a really rockin’ good party metal album somewhat in the vein of the attitude of KISS but only more interesting in a musical sense. The band also paid tribute to its antecedents such as the excellent Sweet cover of “Hellraiser / Action.” In short, RAVEN perfectly caught the real zeitgeist of the early 1980s with ROCK UNTIL YOU DROP. Metal about this time was all about just getting wild and crazy without overthinking things. Sometimes less is more and in the case of RAVEN’s debut, the bold and brash performances outweigh any criticism over production values, artistic statements or avant-garde eccentricities. Basically this is just a really enjoyable good old fashioned metal classic.
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