Sound — 9
Raven came about during the NWOBHM movement, when bands like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath started. They even shared the same record label as Venom. However, they did not receive the recognition and fame that the other bands of that time did. They had a select few hits on the U.K. charts, but not much more. But, they survived the past few decades and have continued to record music. Their newest album, "Walk Through Fire", had been delayed for over 5 years due to guitarist, Mark Gallagher, being on the receiving end of a falling wall. Over those 5 years, emotions, anger and music had been building up inside them. And they released it in a grand fashion with most recent work. The main star of the show is Mark. His riffs are energetic and keep the song moving, while his solos are fast and furious (pun intended). His delicate yet violent playing tears through the airwaves and get you bouncing in your seat or bouncing off the walls, whichever suits your style. But Mark is not the only star, his brother John does a terrific job as vocalist. They often transition from Mark's riffs to John's fist-pumping choruses. His frequent changes between mid-range croons to high-pitched shrieks create a great effect and add to the excitement of the album. Drummer Joe Hasselvander does a decent job, but between the two Gallagher brothers he is outmatched. He keeps the beat and adds in a fun drum roll, but can't compete with the other two. Despite the talent displayed, Raven's strength lies in their songwriting. Each song, with the exception of two, finish at about four minutes. Each song follows a strict "riff-melody-chorus" structure, providing a sometimes repetitive and almost always exciting experience. "Walk Through Fire" does falter (ironically, right after the song "Trainwreck"). "Grip" sounds disjointed, messy and difficult to listen to. But, once Mark does his thing during the solo, they pull it together and it finishes on a high note (figuratively). The next track, "Running Around In Circles", sounds more like a pop-rock flowery ballad than what Raven does. Once that two-track stint ends, "Hard Road" gets you back into the mood.
Lyrics — 7
I've always preferred the music to the lyrics (but I like neither in the Hugh Grant movie). For me, the drums and guitar (bass, as well) have always made the song while the vocalist adds the finishing touches. I don't usually pay attention to what they say, unless they sound like Bruce Dickinson. Joe Gallagher does a great job at singing, and after listening to the lyrics, they really add to the music. They make sense, are relevant to the mood and sound great with Joe's voice. But they aren't anything special.
Overall Impression — 9
It is a real shame that Raven never received the recognition they deserved, even now. When writing this review, Raven wasn't even listed as an artist. They are noticeably from the NWOBHM era, but have their own unique sound. "Walk Through Fire" is their best work yet, and hopefully this review will help them get noticed. One man summed up Raven better than I ever could: "When the Raven trio jumps onstage to play their athletic rock live it must be like wrestling a grizzly on speed with your ears. The canned studio stuff on Walk Through Fire doesn't come off quite as viscerally as the two live bonus tracks, but it is still pretty rowdy like wrestling a sober bear, more or less. And for a bunch of determined NWOBHM hold-outs, that's pretty darn good." I've always wanted to wrestle a grizzly on speed. "Walk Through Fire" is the closest I'm ever going to get. But if you like what became from the NWOBHM movement, get "Walk Through Fire".