Raven-Rock until you drop, 1981
Long before they donned athletic equipment on stage, long before drummer Rob Hunter called himself "Wacko" and long before Atlantic records sucked the life out of this band. Long before all of that these guys were part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. I would say they were a major part as well. They would unwittingly come to be a big influence on the soon to be flourishing speed metal scene. Between 1981 and 1984 they were one of the best early speed metal bands around and there was once a time when Metallica opened for them(!). Like Venom, I think Raven stumbled upon a sound and excelled at it for a while. Brothers John (bass and vocals) and Mark Gallagher (guitar) formed this band along with drummer Rob Hunter in 1979. By 1981 they were signed to Neat records and released their debut "Rock until you drop". From the opener "Hard ride" you know right away that this band plows through their songs with lots of energy. They had their own sound yet I think they sound a little like some of Judas Priest's faster material crossed with the straight ahead romps of Ted Nugent. There are a lot of fast pace changes and some unexpected twists here and there. The frequent guitar runs and the pounding beats that are prominent here. Their style was easily a huge part of the blueprint that many up and coming speed metal bands would use between say 1983 and 1986 when speed metal was really emerging. Another thing I really liked about Raven was that their music felt fun. There came a time later in the decade when so many metal bands thought that wearing all black and frowning made them a real metal band. Raven's early material showed a band can play real metal and yes, it was okay to have fun with it. For me I think I actually enjoy Raven's earlier stuff more now than I did back in the 80's. I take it for what it is and both respect and thank them for their huge contribution to the metal world.