RAVEN – Metal City

RAVEN - Metal City
  • 8.3/10
    RAVEN - Metal City - 8.3/10


Release date: September 18, 2020

User Review
8/10 (1 vote)

Rock’s original Gallagher brothers have returned with Metal City, Raven’s fourteenth studio album. Metal City is the Raven studio recording debut of the well-traveled Mike Heller (Fear Factory, Malignancy, Abigail Williams, among others), who also played on last years’ concert document Screaming Murder Death From Above: Live in Aalborg. Heller replaces long-term drummer Joe Hasselvander behind the kit after health issues forced Hasselvander to exit the band. His addition appears to have injected a spike of adrenaline into a band well into their fifth decade of performing.

Kicking off with “The Power”, Raven quickly lay down a riff-heavy assault reminding fans they were one of the early progenitors of the Thrash/Speed Metal sound. Heller meshes seamlessly with the Gallaghers, propelling the music forward at a rapid clip. “Top Of The Mountain” follows another frenetic thrasher featuring a quadruple dose of dive-bomb guitar effects from Mark. While never considered to be among the elite vocalists launching as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Brother John can still shriek with the best of them–he’s quite likely a better singer now than he was when the band first started recording.

“Human Race” starts Thrashy but winds up with an extended Progressive Metal riff; the next couple cuts “Battle Scarred” and the powerfully fun title track hew to a more Traditional Metal sound, putting the catchy, singalong choruses Raven cut their teeth on front and center. “Battle Scarred” features some fine soloing from Mark, whose playing is couched securely in the bedrock pocket groove laid down by Mike and John. Mark kicks off the next track “Cybertron” with a pleasantly nasty riff, while Mike blazes the trail on “Motörheadin'”, a speedy headbanger that must be intended as a nodding tribute to that other great (usually) three-piece Speed Metal outfit.

With each successive song, one is struck with just how much the inclusion of Heller adds to Raven’s sound. The Gallaghers clearly elevated their game for Metal City, which is easily one of their best albums in the catalog, utterly bereft of the plodding, ham-handed numbers that marred many of their previous releases. “It’s Not So Easy” and “Break” charge ahead, launched with exuberant screams and carried by killer choruses and locked-in playing.

If the masters of “athletic rock” were going to have a goal-line fumble, it most certainly would have been with closing track “When Worlds Collide”, which at six minutes sixteen seconds is one of the songs of their lengthy recording career. Instead, they deliver a credible Progressive Metal inflected mini-epic, a solid capstone to a mighty Rock fortress. Metal City is fast, fun, frenetic, a late-game leap forward from a veteran band who still, indeed, have “The Power”.


  • Daniel Waters

    Daniel was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. Iron Maiden’s Piece Of Mind wasn’t the first Metal album he owned, but it was the one that lifted the lid off his soul when he received the record as a gift on his 15th birthday. He's been a Metal fan ever since. He's probably best known as the author of various Young Adult novels such as the Generation Dead series and the ghost story Break My Heart 1,000 Times, now also a major motion picture entitled I Still See You, starring Bella Thorne. Writing and music, especially Heavy Metal music, has always been inextricably linked in his mind and career. His first paid gig doing any type of writing was for Cemetery Dance, where he wrote a horror-themed music column called Dead Beats, and when he was writing the first Generation Dead novel he had a ritual where he started his writing day with a Metal playlist that kicked off with “Crushing Belial” by Shadows Fall.

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