It’s often small things that can give powerful impetus to a musician’s creativity. In the case of USA-based metal trio Raven, featuring the English brothers John (bass, vocals) and Mark (guitar) Gallagher, it was the unanimously positive reactions to their 2015 release “ExtermiNation,” and of course the arrival of drummer Mike Heller (he joined the fold in summer 2017 to replace Joe Hasselvander, who had left the band due to health issues) which resulted in an awesome new album. “Our initial goal was just to raise the bar once more. We did a good job on ‘ExtermiNation,’ and decided we just wanted more of everything next time,” John Gallagher grins. “however things changed once we got Mike on board. Attitude and tempos got revved up a lot! Mike is a ball of energy. He has a good ear and is a big fan of the early albums, especially the crazy feel. He’s kicked us into a higher gear where we feel that we can play anything and everything we write with no restrictions.” Gallagher’s explanations ring with pure, unadulterated musical enthusiasm and passion, so curtain up for “Metal City,” which sees Raven deliver ten songs with no holds barred. “Metal City,” will be available on Steamhammer/SPV from September 18th, 2020 on CD, vinyl LP and as digital stream/download.
As on its predecessors, the band has again accomplished a perfect combination of their classic strengths and contemporary influences. Gallagher: “We definitely have a couple of traditional Raven rock & roll tunes on the album. ‘Top Of The Mountain’ definitely has lineage to the past. Also ‘Not So Easy’ has a bit of that early vibe. Besides that there’s so much aggression in songs like ‘Human Race,’ ‘Cybertron’ and ‘Break’.” In addition, “Metal City,” also holds a number of surprises in store, as Gallagher reveals: “‘Human Race’ is just blistering, then we change gears radically in the middle. You also have our little epic ‘When Worlds Collide’ and a few with an anthemic feel like ‘Battlescarred’ and ‘Metal City.’ But there’s serious left turns in all the songs.”
The Gallagher brothers have devoted the title track to their British home city: “Newcastle upon Tyne has been referred to as Metal City for good reason. We come from there for a start. But it’s about a mindset, the people there have a tenacity and an ability to go beyond the limits to get to where they are going.” Alongside this homage, Raven have included a whole range of interesting themes: “’The Power’ is our Game Of Thrones song,” Gallagher says with a chuckle, “all very cut-throat! ‘Break’ is a kind of anarchistic rallying cry, and ‘Cybertron’ is all about the surveillance state and the AI singularity, disaster porn.”
“Metal City” with its humorous cover artwork (“it’s a comic book inspired theme, we are all lunatics and we figured we all wanna be superheroes, so we went for it”) was recorded at production legend Michael Wagener’s studio in Nashville. “The album was produced by us, Mike Heller engineered his drums and Michael Wagner engineered everything else. We then turned the tracks over to a guy called Zeuss who did a great job mixing and mastering it. So it’s been a departure for us process-wise. We kinda got dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming…but the new tools are great as long as you use them, and they aren’t using you.”
So the only question that remains is: when and how will Raven’s worldwide fan community get to see their idols live on stage again? Raven’s 2019 live recording “Screaming Murder Death From Above: Live In Aalborg” is a lasting document of their live power, so their fans are really looking forward to their upcoming “Metal City On Tour”. Gallagher: “There definitely will be lots of touring. We have an opening slot on a good tour here in the States in 2021 and are planning dates and festivals in Europe and to visit our fans again in the Far East, Australia, South America… basically everywhere we can!”
Read our review here.