Our top 10 Raven songs list digs deep into the music of a legendary British ensemble best known for its impactful role in the establishment of the thrash metal scene. Raven was formed in 1974 by the brothers, John Gallagher (vocalist) and Mark Gallagher (guitarist). Guided by their enthusiasm for metal, the Gallagher brothers delivered audacious performances even before the band released its first album.
Raven built its reputation as an up-and-coming outfit with its occasional opening performances for the pub rock/punk rock outfits The Motors and The Stranglers. The band would eventually sign a recording contract with Neat Records in 1980, issuing its debut single “Don’t Need Your Money” the same year. “Don’t Need Your Money” was critically acclaimed, motivating the band members to prepare new songs for a debut studio album. Before the end of 1980, Raven had toured the UK opening for reputable acts such as Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, and Motörhead.
Raven’s Album Releases over the Years
In January 1981, Raven issued its debut studio album, Rock Until You Drop through Neat Records. Despite releasing the album through a minor independent record label, Raven achieved critical acclaim with Rock Until You Drop, thanks to the musicianship of the band members. The album managed to peak at number sixty-three on the UK Albums Chart. “Hard Ride,” “Don’t Need Your Money,” “Lambs to the Slaughter,” and “Rock Until You Drop” are the best Raven songs from the album. “Lambs to the Slaughter” would later be covered by the German thrash outfit Kreator in 1988. Rock Until You Drop also featured the band’s cover of the 1975 hit “Action” by the UK glam rock act Sweet.
Raven returned in 1982 with its sophomore studio album, Wiped Out. Unlike the band’s debut studio album, Wiped Out failed to make it to the mainstream charts. However, this heavy metal/speed metal record managed to feature popular songs by Raven including “Faster than the Speed of Light,” “Chainsaw,” “Hold Back the Fire,” and “Bring the Hammer Down.”
All for One, issued in 1983, marked the band’s third LP and last release through Neat Records. The album failed to make it to the mainstream charts but still remains one of the band’s finest heavy metal/speed metal work. All for One featured former Accept vocalist Udo Dirkschneider on the backing vocals and production. Joining Udo in the production of the album was Michael Wagener, known for his successful work with Dokken, Accept, Bonfire, HammerFall, Skid Row, and Helloween. “Mind Over Metal,” “All for One,” and “Break the Chain” are some of the best Raven songs from the album.
In 1985, Raven issued its fourth studio album, Stay Hard through Atlantic Records. This was the first time the band issued any of its releases through a major label. Stay Hard finds the band exploring some glam metal influences. The album was Raven’s first release to make it to the Billboard 200, peaking at number eighty-one. “On and On,” “Stay Hard,” and “When The Going Gets Tough” are some of the best Raven songs from the album.
Raven returned in 1986 with its fifth studio album, The Pack Is Back. This glam metal album was fairly received in the US, peaking at number one hundred and twenty-one on the Billboard 200. The album was produced by the legendary Eddie Kramer, who has worked with multiple artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame including Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, John Mellencamp, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Kinks. “Nightmare Ride,” “Don’t Let It Die,” and a cover of Spencer Davis Group hit “Gimme Some Lovin’” are the most popular songs by Raven from the album.
Raven returned to its usual blend of heavy metal and speed metal with its sixth studio album, Life’s a Bitch. Unfortunately, the album failed to impress in the mainstream forcing Atlantic Records to cut ties with the band. Nevertheless, this 1987 album managed to feature some of the most sought-after songs by Raven including “The Savage and The Hungry,” “Life’s a Bitch,” and “You’re a Liar.” In 1988, Raven issued its seventh studio album, Nothing Exceeds Like Excess. The album featured musical gems such as “Into the Jaws of Death” and “Lay Down the Law.”
Architect of Fear, issued in 1991, marked the band’s eighth studio album and first release through SPV GmbH. The album title track, “Just Let Me Go,” and “Got the Devil” are the best Raven songs from this LP. Glow, the band’s 1994 ninth studio album, saw Raven take on heavy metal. Still issued under SPV GmbH, Glow features musical gems such as “So Close,” “Far and Wide,” and Raven’s cover of the 1973 hit by Thin Lizzy. Everything Louder marked the band’s tenth studio album and third album issued through SPV GmbH. While the album failed to achieve mainstream success, it featured top songs by Raven including “Everything Louder” and “Blind Eye.”
One for All, the band’s eleventh studio album, was issued through Metal Blade in the US. The album saw Raven rekindle its relationship with Michael Wagener who had produced the band’s albums All for One and Stay Hard. “Seven Shades,” “Roll with the Punches,” and “Get Your Motor Running” are some of the best Raven songs from the album. Walking Through Fire, ExtermiNation, and Metal City are the most recent albums issued by Raven, all issued through SPV Records.
Raven played a central role in the development of thrash metal, a genre that was best exemplified by bands such as Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth, and Kreator. Thanks to its growing popularity that Raven was selected as the headlining act in Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All for One tour in 1983. While most of the band’s contemporaries have creatively taken a nosedive, Raven remains among the few consistent thrash metal acts over the years. The band’s survival since the ‘80s has been facilitated by the unique personality and musicianship of the Gallagher brothers. Here are the ten best Raven songs of all time.
#10- Metal City
Ushering us to the top 10 Raven songs list is the electrifying hit “Metal City.” The song serves as the album title track of the band’s most recent fourteenth studio album. While the album features other hits like “Top of the Mountain” and “Not So Easy,” “Metal City” remains the true emblem of the Raven’s endured success and relevance in the thrash metal scene.
The furious pace of this loud singalong anthem makes it quite a masterpiece evocative of the band’s groundbreaking work. “Metal City” features a spectacular drumming assault by drummer Mike Heller. Mike Heller is best known for his tenure as a member of the death metal band Malignancy and the industrial metal outfit Fear Factory.
#9- Architect of Fear
“Architect of Fear” is one of the timeless musical gems by Raven whose legacy lives on to date. The song serves as the album title track of the band’s 1991 eighth studio album. “Architect of Fear” features transcendent guitar riffs delivered by the remarkable band’s guitarist Mark Gallagher. The aggressive and heavy nature of the guitar riffs makes “Architect of Fear” quite a classic. We cannot seem to forget the impressive drumming by Joe Hasselvander, who left the band in 2017. Mike also served as the drummer to the doom metal act Pentagram.
Coming in at number eight on our top 10 Raven songs list is the hypnotic hit “Chainsaw.” The song is among the top musical gems featured on the band’s sophomore studio album, Wiped Out. “Chainsaw” boasts of incredibly hard-hitting guitar riffs by Mark Gallagher. This impulsive and raw hit is part of the reason Raven has been cited as the progenitors of the thrash metal genre. Former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman cited Wiped Out as the album that influenced him the most.
#7- Destroy All Monsters
ExtermiNation, the band’s thirteenth studio album, featured a ferocious yet inspirational performance by Raven reminding us of the band’s good old ‘80s. “Destroy All Monsters” is the best Raven song from this uncompromisingly hard-hitting thrash metal album. The song is delivered in a rattling affair that takes us back to the band’s cutting-edge thrash affair in its groundbreaking albums.
“Destroy All Monsters” features superb guitar riffs by Mark Gallagher complemented by Joe Hasselvander’s implausible drumming. John Gallagher gives us a taste of his frenzied vocals, which complements this song’s classic thrash metal attack. “Destroy All Monsters” played a huge role in rekindling the love for Raven’s signature thrash metal sound, guiding ExtermiNation to minor success in the mainstream.
#6- Break the Chain
Number six on our top 10 Raven songs list is the brilliant hit “Break the Chain.” The song is among the best songs issued on the band’s third studio album, All for One. “Break the Chain” is yet another singalong rocker that brings the best of Raven’s thrash metal sound. Amped-up energy levels on the vocals and soaring guitar riffs crown “Break the Chain” one of the best Raven songs from the band’s third outing.
#5- Rock Until You Drop
When Raven issued Rock Until You Drop, the album was cited to be among the landmarks of the flourishing new wave of British heavy metal scene. With this release, Raven sought a sound faster than the typical Judas Priest sound and heavier than the archetypal Iron Maiden sound.
The result was a new speed/thrash metal sound as evidenced by top musical gems such as the album title track. “Rock Until You Drop” buzzes with an outrageous amount of energy with John Gallagher delivering powerful high-pitched vocals. This song is an exhibition of Raven at its ferocious best.
#4- Faster Than the Speed of Light
“Faster Than the Speed of Light” is among the top musical gems from the band’s sophomore outing, Wiped Out. The Gallagher brothers, joined by drummer Rob Hunter, proved to be a formidable trio in the speed/thrash metal genre as evidenced by the power and fast tempo of this hit. Raven’s unrelenting performance on this song helps solidify the band’s impact on the thrash metal genre. Together with songs like “Bring the Hammer Down” and “Chainsaw,” “Faster Than the Speed of Light” serves as a magnificent display of Wiped Out’s musical charm.
#3 – Mind Over Metal
The third pick on our top 10 Raven songs list is the terrific hit “Mind Over Metal.” “Mind Over Metal” is the most sought-after hit by Raven from the band’s third studio album, All for One. This speed metal classic finds John Gallagher delivering some of his best high-pitched vocals.
His piercing screams complement the song’s razor-sharp guitar riffs. We cannot forget Mark Wagener’s production inputs to this heavy metal/speed metal song. While the album never made it to the mainstream, All for One remains among the band’s best releases as a forerunner in the speed/thrash metal scene.
#2- Don’t Need Your Money
“Don’t Need Your Money” is among the fan-favorite tracks released by Raven. The song was issued in 1980 after the band signed a recording contract with Neat Records. “Don’t Need Your Money” would eventually feature on the band’s 1981 debut studio album, Rock Until You Drop. The energy yielded on this song’s performance displays Raven’s archetypal influences in the new wave of British heavy metal scene.
#1- On and On
Number one on our top 10 Raven songs list is the ravishing hit “On and On.” The song is among the top musical gems from the band’s fourth studio album, Stay Hard. Unlike most of the songs featured on our ten best Raven songs list, “On and On” has the intensity of the guitar riffs slowed down.
Juxtaposed to most of the songs from the band’s first three albums, “On and On” also feels a tad bit off Raven’s speed/thrash metal influences. However, this doesn’t make the song any less impactful! “On and On,” almost singlehandedly, guided Stay Hard into mainstream success in the US. Despite featuring a more commercial sound, “On and On” still manages to feature the band’s signature energy and power in delivery.
Feature Photo: Frank Schwichtenberg, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Raven Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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