History & BiographyOne of two NWOBHM bands using the monicker, the earlier and more famous Raven was founded in ‘metal city’ Newcastle in 1974. The band was brothers singer and bassist John Gallagher and guitarist Mark Gallagher. Paul Bowden was on second guitar and Paul Sherrif was on drums soon. The latter would be out within a year, but the former would stay until 1979. The group’s first concert was in December 1975. Moreover, the band played a set for a Hell’s Angels’ club where they were asked to repeatedly play Born To Be Wild. Drummers Mick Kenworthy and Sean Taylor would come and go. Taylor would join Satan/Pariah later. The line-ups were playing pubs locally. Drummer Rob Hunter of Fast Breeder, however, would be most associated with the band’s early days since he would be part of the early records’ line-up. Drummer Pete Shore would come and go as well, but by the time the band hit its stride Raven would be known as a trio and a one-guitar group. The band, inspired by its tempos and concerts, would soon enough be termed athletic rock as it had displayed a live energy and inclusion of various sports’ paraphernalia including helmets and masks at shows.
The group was first heard on a Neat Records’ single called Don't Need Your Money in 1980. Neat Records’ Steve Thompson, who had already worked with Tygers Of Pan Tang, would produce at the label’s Impulse Studio home. This opportunity had been presented owing to a connection made by Tom Noble the manager for local boys Tygers Of Pan Tang. John Peel would play the song on his radio show. Raven opened for Ozzy Osbourne and Iron Maiden in the UK. The trio would have the opportunity to record another single for Neat called Hard Ride for 1981. This single is noteworthy for featuring the group’s permanent logo for the first time. John had designed the band’s monicker to exclude any curves. The band was now officially on Neat and working on its debut full-length from which the single was culled. Rock Until You Drop would become an apt title for the band from Northeast England. An EP, called Crash Bang Wallop in praise of Men’s liberation, would appear in 1982 and also show the band’s humour given the inclusion of a song called Run Them Down, which was dedicated to Italian motorists. Working steadfastly, the band recorded and released Wiped Out in 1982. The producer was Keith Nichol who would go on to work with virtually all Neat Records’ bands and had already sat behind the console for Venom. The album showcased a leading NWOBHM band bordering on thrash metal. Raven, which was Neat’s bestseller, flew to the USA and opened for Anvil and Riot. A New Jersey show was promoted by Johnny Z of Megaforce. The next EP came in 1983 and was called Break The Chain. Udo Dirkschneider of Accept and Michael Wagener, who had produced the German band, were in charge of the sound here. The same was true for the band’s full-length, All For One. There was a rumour that this album was to be called Athletic Rock initially. Wagener would call Raven “crazy” years later. A subsequent tour had the act headline over Metallica and then over Exodus and Anthrax, which was on Megaforce. The ensuing live record, Live At The Inferno, was licensed to Banzai in Canada and Megaforce in the USA. Raven contributed the songs Hot Moves and Ladykiller to the soundtrack for the 1984 film Hot Moves.
The band was at its heyday now and made inroads into North America as well. As such, they may have sung Don’t Need Your Money ages ago, but when major label Atlantic Records came a knocking the Raven trio were all on-board. Signed to Atlantic (after some interest from Elektra for whom they recorded a demo, although the label later signed another Megaforce band Metallica instead) after flying to the USA to make a nest in New York City, the group recorded Stay Hard in the USA and issued it in 1985. Ironically again, this was not the band at its hardest. In fact, songs like Pray For The Sun, which was the album’s single, screamed ‘sell out’ on the record. They even included a horn section. A fan segment at home called the band out for selling out for American success. This album also featured a new version of the song Hard Ride from the group’s debut album. The image too had gone glam. Informatively, the band had written the record before finalizing a deal with Atlantic. Raw Power issued a compilation called The Devil’s Carrion whose cover artwork targeted both death metal fans and moms doing laundry. The band proceeded down the major label alley with The Pack Is Back, with its sexy cover aside, sealed the tomb shut and made a definite breakthrough and breaking big for the band what love, peace and understanding is to the USA. The band had covered other acts before and it was no different here. The single was a cover version called Gimme Some Lovin'! Raven opened for Yngwie Malmsteen. The group was still a group, but for whatever reasons the cover of the Mad EP of 1986 featured a sole member that some might have mistaken for a wrestling advertisement. Either way, this led to Life’s A Bitch, which would be an ominous indicator of the band’s relationship with a major multinational record company. The band and Atlantic parted ways (a.k.a. Raven was dropped) and the heavier Nothing Exceeds Like Excess was on Combat Records and featured a Combat-ish cover artwork, which was something different for the birds. American drummer for Pentagram Joe Hasselvander was on the stool now. The man is a drum-for-hire, but idiosyncratically would remain with Raven for twenty years. Gothic Slam’s Just A Face In The Crowd was produced by drummer Rob Hunter. The man had left Raven claiming the desire to spend more time with his growing family. Raven was featured on the Ultimate Revenge 2 video and compilation of Combat Records alongside the more extreme Death, Dark Angel and others. Shows in America included opening for Testament and opening for Kreator, which had covered Raven, in Europe. Raven signed up with Kreator’s management. The band switched labels again, took a little more time this round and issued Architect Of Fear through Germany’s SPV. Raven opened for Running Wild in Europe in 1991. John joined Paul Di’Anno’s Killers for two years at this juncture without leaving Raven. The group toured Europe with Risk as openers. Heads Up! Was an EP featuring studio and love tracks. A live video was called Electro Shock Therapy.
The year was 1994 now and the band had been overshadowed by glam, thrash metal, underground death metal and everything else, but Raven kept flying and issued Glow through Hellion Records. The group was touring Europe semi-regularly.
The obligatory (Japanese) live record aside, which was taped at the band’s first Japanese tour in 1995, the title for Everything Louder perhaps echoed Deep Purple’s ‘Everything louder than everything else’ line before the band jumped to Massacre Records, the label of last resort. Hammerfall supported its debut record opening for Tank and Raven in Europe. Predictably, given the band’s affiliation with Massacre, the band’s profile was lowered and it was promoted less than ever before. The band figured all this out and jumped back to Steamhammer for a 2010 record after releasing an EP called For The Future through someone in his basement. In the meantime, guitarist Mark had sustained an injury in 2001 and required surgery, rehabilitation and time off for half a decade. Mark's legs were crushed after a six-metre wall collapsed on him. The band had cancelled a tour and a show at Wacken as a result in 2002. Several 2004 shows had the band perform with John in a wheelchair.
The 25th anniversary of a radio show by DJ Bill Peters, called Metal On Metal, was commemorated in Cleveland, Ohio, USA through a show featuring Destructor, Anvil, Raven and Piledriver. The band toured its home country with Lost In Vegas in 2008 and played in Japan in 2009. Still, Mark Gallagher had knee surgery in 2009. The band cancelled a showing at Germany’s Rocktower festival. Walk Through Fire followed its predecessor by more than ten years. The band was booked for the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise and Sweden Rock Festival in 2010. Steamhammer issued a compilation and documentary DVD on the band, called Rock Until You Drop - A Long Days Journey, in 2013. The act commemorated the 30th anniversary of its All For One album by playing concerts called All For One Forever. Raven and Girlschool toured as the "British Classic" double headliner tour in November and December 2013. The band played in the USA in 2014. Raven would open for pop crooners Metallica at the Estadio Do Morumbi in Sao Paulo, Brazil on March 22, 2014 as both bands happened to be touring the continent.
Remember that 1995 live album? Raven issued a single called Destroy All Monsters in 2015 and included the track in its immediate next record. The band was funded through Kickstarter and gave contributors a covers’ album called Party Killers upon ExtermiNation’s release. Former Overkill guitarist Bobby Gustafson initiated a project called Hail Mary with former Overkill drummer Sid Falack and John called Hail Mary in support of The Cheri Pogue Medical Fund. The wife of Steve Pogue (guitarist of Infectus 13) had had a motorcycle accident, which severed her left foot. John would guest as the bassist for the System Deceive demo of Canada-based band Arapacis in 2016. Di’Anno’s Steph Honde contributed guitar to the same recording. The band was touring Europe with Hirax and Kill Ritual. Drummer Joe Hasselvander announced an inability to tour citing health issues and Raven recruited several live stand-ins in 2017. Kill Ritual drummer Dave Chedrick stood in for Europe and Jimmy Mess from Tattooed Millionaires helped for a US show. It was then revealed that Hasselvander had suffered a heart attack.
That was it for Raven until 2019 and a live record called Screaming Murder Death From Above: Live In Aalborg. There was a live single and video for the song Hung, Drawn & Quartered. Another drum-for-hire, called Mike Heller, had arrived. Heller had helped when Hasselvander had not toured due to illness. Two compilations, collecting the band’s Neat and Atlantic outputs, came before Metal City referencing the group’s hometown. In an interview John called the global pandemic, ”an overblown nightmare.” One could see that the man had moved to the USA although to be fair denialism and anti-science conspiracy theories were everywhere. The trio was touring the USA in October and November 2021 using the Metal City monicker. The band’s Metal City album was issued in 2020. London, England-based LA Riot Survivor Records was issuing All For Raven - The Tribute. Featuring twelve bands from Europe, USA, Africa, Latin America and Asia. John Gallagher himself appeared as a guest on vocals with Anthony Drago’s band. Drago owned the label. The band released a new self-cover version album, called Leave 'Em Bleeding, through SPV/Steamhammer on 30.09.2022. The album was to contain several bonus tracks including cover versions. Raven announced it would commemorate the 40th anniversary of its All For One album with a U.K. tour in 2023. Hellgrimm was to open the tour. All For One was the band’s third record. Raven replaced Bonfire at the Blast From The Past festival. Raven’s next album was called All Hell’s Breaking Loose and out through Silver Lining Music in May 2023. The group appeared at the reconstituted Milwaukee Metal Fest in 2023. John and Heller were also in Helms Deep now.
Raven started as a rock/prog band claiming influence from Rush and The Who before evolving, but it has influenced everybody from Kreator to Razor to Metallica over the years. The act is also known for its craziness as well as mundane album cover art.