Raven – Screaming Murder Death from Above: Live in Aalborg (Steamhammer/SPV)Sunday, 6th January 2019
The more infamous Gallagher brothers of metal John and Mark have been together as Raven since 1974 – 44 years now slugging through the scene delivering their brand of no-nonsense heavy music to anyone that will want to crash, bang, and wallop with them. Recruiting Mike Heller as their drummer following the heart attack/health concerns of long-time kit man Joe Hasselvander after thirty years in the group, what we have here is another live document of a show in Aalborg, Denmark in the form of Screaming Murder Death from Above. Their third official live album (who can forget the double record Live at the Inferno from 1984?) and first since 1995, you’ll get an eleven-song effort that encompasses selections from the past and present of Raven’s vast catalog.
The selections they choose from their latest studio effort ExtermiNation including the rabble rousing opener “Destroy All Monsters” (it’s hard to not scream ‘exterminate’ as it careens around the brain) and “Tank Treads (The Blood Runs Red)” keep the addictive British riffing and anthem-oriented hooks front and center – energetic and primitive in the best bare bones trio format. John’s maniacal range from bird-call piercing screams to sadistic mid-range and below keeps Raven on point, 100% metal to the bone while his bass action holds down the bottom end tight as a rope and still excites because of his progressive additions. Mark’s fleet axe activities and crazy bends get a solo spotlight for the almost four-minute “A.A.N.S.M.M.G.N.” – where you feel a lot of bluesy nods of influence in this instrumental outing. The bulk of the setlist caters to those early classics that are NWOBHM staples – “Hell Patrol”, “Rock Until You Drop”, “Faster Than the Speed of Light” among them – but it’s nice to hear the Stay Hard mainstay “On and On” where John cajoles the crowd to sing along and have a good time.
With another studio album in the pipeline to hopefully come out also in 2019, Raven have seen peaks and valleys in their illustrious career – but seem to be enjoying this burgeoning interest in their music once again. If you want a decent primer into their discography, invest your time here.