Raven have been annihilating the world for so long that an argument can be made that they were the first-ever speed metal band, with Rock Until You Drop being remarkably well-formed for 1981. Metallica’s first real tour ever was in direct support to Raven in 1983. Forty years after that tour, and nearly 50 after Raven started the band, and Raven’s new record All Hell’s Breaking Loose shows that they still have it.
Many older bands trying to show that they can still write in the same style as in their golden years decades later crash and fail. Hell, most do. The riffs don’t work; the songs are long and plodding, the musicianship is the same as ever—The end result is just sad. Raven’s new thrasher neatly misses all of those mistakes by just going as hard as ever, maybe even harder. It’s clear that the brothers behind the band, John and Mark Gallagher, still love what Raven does and that they’ve spent the years in between Rock Until You Drop and All Hell’s Breaking Loose doing something other than twiddling their thumbs.
The high level of musicianship that the Gallaghers display perfectly matches the force of their music: the rhythms are tight as hell, John’s in complete control of his voice, and new-ish drummer Mike Heller proves exactly why he was picked to jump in after the departure of longtime drummer Joe Hasselvander with an absolute storm of precision percussion.
The end result is something that’d feel compelling and fresh from a band a quarter as experienced, all pounding lance strike riffs, anthemic headbanging choruses, and delightfully romping song structures that fluidly jump around in a way that’s nearly whimsical. All of this shines with stellar production from Lesse Lammert (Warrel Dane, Glacier, Sigh) and reveals something that, if not necessarily matching the highs of Raven’s most classic 1980s hits, is still legitimately worth checking out for anyone that ever liked Raven, speed metal, or the NWOBHM.
Last year, Raven did a sprawling month on the road in the U.S. to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Wiped Out, playing the album in full. How did the tour go? Were there any songs in the setlist that hadn’t been broken out since the original Wiped Out tour?
John Gallagher: The tour was exceptional ... but we hit it hard ... 42 dates with three days off, and two of those were travel days!!!
But we had such a good time doing the Wiped Out album ... there were a few songs that had actually never been played live such as “To The Limit - To The Top” and “Battlezone,” so it’s great to change things up and play “new” songs like that!
Will you be doing something similar for All For One in the United States?
As the new album will be out, we will be doing two or three from that! So we will try and do a bit of both!!!
All Hell’s Breaking Loose is your second album with Mike Heller on drums. Has his presence changed anything in terms of your writing, or just generally with how the albums have come together?
JG: Yes! This album was certainly different in that Mike was in at the ground floor as far as writing the songs this time ... so that made a big difference as we all contributed ideas, riffs, arrangements, etc. We were certainly all onboard with the concept of a 10 song/35-40 min long album with absolutely “all killer - no filler” in the same general vein as “Metal City”... too many metal bands have these endless 70-80 min albums that just fall a bit short....
When you set out to write something like that, are you writing more than needed and then pruning down, or writing exactly the amount of songs you want from the beginning?
JG: Oh we always overwrite ... We had a collection of about 30 songs that were in consideration for this album. Some were more fully formed than others ... and some were more “ oddball,” so we picked 10 that worked as an album. You know, “What would be the best opener?” etc.
The gap from Metal City to All Hell’s Breaking Loose was your shortest between albums since the 90s. Should we expect another album sooner rather than later?
JG: Oh hopefully! That whole “ five years between albums" thing was driving us nuts. It certainly wasn’t by design ... just circumstances!
This is your first album on Silver Lining Music after quite a few years on Steamhammer. What triggered the change, and how’s it going so far?
JG: Yeah, the contract was up and we had a great offer from Silver Lining and we decided to go with them ... so far we have nothing but praise - they are totally on top of things and are very excited about the album!
Buy or stream All Hell’s Breaking Loose here.