The other week, like many others, I bought a ticket for Judas Priest’s gigs next year with Saxon and Uriah Heep. As I did, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that I wished Iron Maiden would be as brave as Halford’s men and put together a bill like that.
However, after listening to “All Hell’s Breaking Loose,” I now have another regret: that Raven aren’t out there touring with Priest in the arenas next spring.
The Gallagher Brothers, not the bellend ones, but the two in Raven, along with drummer Mike Heller, always seem to go under the radar. However, for decades, they’ve been creating brilliant and quintessentially British Heavy Metal. The ten songs on “All Hell’s Breaking Loose” continue in this tradition, although they were recorded in LA if you want to be pedantic.
The album kicks off with “Medieval,” a track that begins with a maelstrom of guitars and straddles the line between thrash and metal, epitomising what proper heavy metal sounds like – none of this “core” bullshit, just pure.. “Surf The Tsunami” underlines it, offering more of the same excellence, showcasing Raven’s mastery of their craft.
“Turn Of The Screw” shines with John Gallagher’s impressive vocal range, while “All Hell’s Breaking Loose” carries the spirit of bands like Wolfsbane (who also had an album with this title, nearly) and makes references to the lockdown, but adds “I’m free!” and I guess that’s the power of rock n roll, right?
“The Far Side” starts with a solo from Mark Gallagher, displaying his rare class and skill. “Desperate Measures” delivers a real fists-up-in-the-air chorus, while “Victory’s Call” represents the sound of northern English power metal- grandiose but gritty.
“Edge Of A Nightmare” harks back to the rawness of the early Maiden albums, evoking a sense of nostalgia, as well as adding a rawness the Irons just wouldn’t want these days. “Invasion” subtly hints at violence, adding a touch of aggression to the album.
“Go For Gold” wraps up the record, and if my notes for it say simply “if you like Raven you’ll love it”, then the same goes for the album as a whole.
But with the caveat, if you love heavy metal the way it used to be (or when the new wave was new I guess) you’ll love Raven. This is their 15th album, and I’m saying they’ve never made a bad one. “All Hell’s Breaking Loose” is a cracker, mind you. Horns up high and deserving of not being some best-kept secret type thing.