If you heard Raven’s second album, Wiped Out, today, for the first time and unaware of the band’s history, you’d have not an inkling that the album was recorded a staggering thirty six years ago.
That’s how good this record is.
Even at its most Gumby – Bring the Hammer Down is basically Vardis with a better drummer – this album is so irrefutably metal it should come with a sponsorship from Ziebart. At the heart of the madness are the vocals of bassist John Gallagher, whose barking mad wailing was literally too much for many a timid soul when the band were in their pomp, however quaint it might sound today, and the fabulous drumming of Rob ‘Wacko’ Hunter, whose relentless pummelling drives the band over the border from fast n’furious NWoBHM into full on, heads-down proto thrash.
And let’s not forget guitarist and brother of John Mark, whose vicious tone will still scour the wax from your quivering ears even after all this time.
But what about the songs, I hear you ask… Well, here’s where the band lost ground in the NWoBHM world domination stakes. Whilst the likes of Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Toad the Wet Sprocket went on their sedate way writing hit singles and songs with solos you could whistle on the way to work, Raven offered no such concessions to the ear. Every song here is a ferocious assault on the sensibilities, often pushing the listener to the point of exasperation as the band strain to squeeze just that last drop of heaviness out of every track. This often results in what can only be described as cacophony, and was certainly too much for many listeners in the early eighties.
Still, we’re all grown up now, and, quite frankly, modern ears won’t bat an eyelid, as it were, at what’s going on here. To The Limit To the Top is a bit long at eight minutes plus but features some ridiculous musicianship and singing – mid way through the song the band somehow morphs into a Geordie Rush – whilst opening track Faster Than the Speed of Light is just top drawer British heavy metal, nothing more, nothing less.
The only temptation to buy again for those of you that already own this album is a sub two minute outtake at the end of the album that features some farting, but if you’ve not made acquaintance with Raven before I would suggest that this is a marvellous place to start – Wiped Out is out today, so get down to your local record n’tape emporium and get hold of it now!