|Newcastle upon Tyne "Athletic Rock" outfit that made a huge impact on the NWoBHM but sadly failed to live up to initial promise in thier home country despite recognition abroad. Their early efforts are manic metal sprints through excellent riffs and high pitched distinctive vocals. Despite waning popularity in Britain RAVEN command respect and a healthy fanbase across the world.
RAVEN date back to 1974 with an initial line up of brothers John and Mark Gallagher and Paul Bowden. However, at this fledgling stage RAVEN had only one classical guitar between them! Santa Claus came to the rescue and in December of that year the band got electric guitars for Christmas.
RAVEN's first live date in December 1975 was memorable if not only for the fact that both Gallagher brothers managed to fall offstage. By this point the band had added drummer Paul Sherrif. Within months Sherrif was out in favour of Mick Kenworthy. In this incarnation RAVEN opened for THE STRANGLERS and THE MOTORS locally. One of RAVEN's early headlining gigs included a Hells Angels convention where the band were ordered to play 'Born to be Wild' no less than ten times in the pouring rain. The band only stalled the show by Mark faking an electric shock!
Kenworthy drifted away in late 1977 to be replaced by Sean Taylor. Bowden also departed in 1979 having his position filled by Pete Shore. RAVEN suffered another blow when Taylor quit, eventually to join SATAN.
Augmenting the band line up once more with the addition of drummer Rob Hunter whose previous act FASTBREEDER also included future DURAN DURAN guitarist ANDY TAYLOR. RAVEN cut their first two track demo featuring ''She Don't Need Your Money' and 'Wiped Out'. Courtesy of TYGERS OF PAN TANG manager Tom Noble this tape secured the band a deal with local Newcastle label Neat Records.
RAVEN's debut single 'Don't Need Your Money' created a huge swell of interest in the band and helped the first album reach the British album charts. During 1980 RAVEN also had a track 'Let It Rip' on the 'Brute Force' compilation album. At the time RAVEN were certainly originators of the fast and powerful approach.
Album number two 'Wiped Out' saw the songs getting faster and the band honing their direction. Regrettably, the intended mixes for the album were not used and substituted for a mix unapproved by the band. However, the band's fans were still impressed. RAVEN's first American shows in 1982, alongside RIOT and ANVIL, were promoted by Johnny Zazula of the 'Rock n Roll Heaven' record store in New Jersey.
Producer Michael Wagner was drafted in for 'All for One' as RAVEN sought a more mature sound. It was also their first American release for Zazula's Megaforce label. This Affiliation led to RAVEN's first 36 date American tour with opening act METALLICA, further tours had EXODUS and ANTHRAX supporting.
At RAVEN's 1984 New York show the band headlined above METALLICA and ANTHRAX. Rumour has it that an A&R representative for Elektra Records was suitably impressed by RAVEN but upon inquiring to the band's name was informed it was METALLICA. Once signed the same person was confused to find the band he had signed were now a quartet and not a trio. Allegedly...
With Megaforce's connection to Atlantic Records 1984 saw RAVEN ink a major deal. However, Atlantic manouvered the band away from their speed attack towards a more mainstream approach even getting the band to wear bizarre spacesuit stage gear. RAVEN's audience were by now finding it hard to equate the killer live act with a succession of records that were ever more experimental, even drafting in horn sections at one point. RAVEN undertook a 1985 American tour utilizing JUDAS PRIEST's 'Screaming For Vengeance' stage set. The show included a pyro rocket firing guitar that set fire to the venue roof in San Diego. RAVEN also contributed two tracks to the movie soundtrack of 'Hot Moves'. Songs cut were 'Hot Moves' and 'Ladykiller'.
'The Pack Is Back' was produced by Eddie Kramer but did little to stop the rot. RAVEN toured once more with support from fellow brits TANK. Further shows supporting TWISTED SISTER where to follow but the headliner pulled out at the last minute. 1986 saw RAVEN opening for JUDAS PRIEST in America before headline dates. The tour ended with support shows to YNGWIE MALMSTEEN.
To promote 'Life's A Bitch' RAVEN made up a three band touring package including SLAYER and W.A.S.P. RAVEN fared well in front of rabid SLAYER fans intent on demoralizing W.A.S.P.
Hunter departed without warning in 1987 following Atlantic severing all ties with the band and RAVEN found an able replacement in ex-SIMMONDS, BURNING STARR and PENTAGRAM drummer Joe Hasselvander prior to signing a new deal with Combat Records. RAVEN were back out on the road in America for headlining dates promoting 'Nothing Exceeds Like Excess' before another batch of gigs with TESTAMENT through into 1989. The band's first European tour for many years was offered with KREATOR, a German act that had recently covered a RAVEN track. Impressed by KREATOR's organization RAVEN soon signed to their management and record label.
In 1990 John Gallagher assembled an extracurricular project titled SLIDER comprising of former BLUE CHEER, SIMMONDS and SHAKIN' STREET guitarist Duck McDonald, ex-THE RODS and SIMMONDS bassist Gary Bordonaro and session player Bob Fortunato. The band issued one album 'The Slider Project' on Feedback Records in 1990.
The 'Architect Of Fear' album was a welcome return to previous heaviness. RAVEN set out on European dates with RUNNING WILD in April and May of 1991. However, RAVEN was to go on ice shortly after. John Gallagher formed KILLERS with ex-IRON MAIDEN vocalist PAUL DIANNO, ex-TANK guitarist Cliff Evans, ex-DRIVE SHE SAID guitarist Ray Ditone and former PERSIAN RISK drummer Steve Hopgood for a proposed tour of South America. A rehearsal tape, recorded in an empty venue in New York, featuring Gallagher later surfaced as the 'South American Assault' album.
The 1992 EP 'Heads up' prompted yet more European dates with support act RISK. 1993 proved a disastrous year for the band as John's house burned down as well as having all his guitars stolen.
In 1994 RAVEN performed at the Los Angeles Foundations Forum in an effort to secure a new deal. Before long RAVEN had signed to Japanese label Zero recording 'Glow' the same year. Hungry for the road the band performed American dates in early 1995 with WIDOWMAKER and ANVIL before headline shows of Japan. One of these shows became the 'Destroy all monsters- Live in Japan' album. The band toured Germany alongside TANK and newcomers HAMMERFALL during 1997.
The band returned with renewed vigour during 1999 with a fresh studio album 'One For All' produced by Michael Wagener. The album would be issued in Europe by Massacre Records and the following year licensed into America via Metal Blade. A retrospective box set, provisionally entitled 'Stark Reven Mad', would also be announced but fell by the wayside. The band therefore took matters into their own hands issuing a collection of demos and rarities billed 'Raw Tracks'. Various territories saw differing track listings with the American version closing on a take of QUEEN's 'Tie Your Mother Down'. Japanese variants ended with 'All For One' and 'Young Blood' whilst the European imprint's last tracks would be 'Architect Of Fear' and 'Enemy'.
RAVEN toured Germany in early 2000 as guests to U.D.O. The two acts would unite once again for a series of American mid Summer 2001 dates. The band looked set to get back in gear during 2002, announcing German summer festival gigs, but these would be curtailed when guitarist Mark Gallagher suffered severe leg injuries, shattering an ankle on one leg and seriously damaging the other, when a 20 foot wall collapsed on him in early November the previous year. The recovery process proved slow and further complications would put the band on hold.
Both Mark Gallagher and Joe Hasselvander re-appeared in late 2002 uniting with former VIRGIN STEELE guitarist Jack Starr's new band project JACK STARR AND THE GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME for the February 2003 album 'Under A Savage Sky'. RAVEN would be back on the road in the USA during 2003, acting as guests to SEVEN WITCHES East Coast tour dates beginning on 31st October in Springfield, Virginia. The band, assembling their debut DVD release, would see renewed live action the following year, featuring as part of the 'March Metal Meltdown VI' festival in Irvington, New Jersey cast then opening for Welsh veterans BUDGIE on 24th March at Jaxx in Springfield, Virginia. November of 2004 saw RAVEN back in the recording studio.