All Photos and Words: DJ
Just about any seasoned Metalhead will tell you that British NWOBHM pioneers Raven, is on the list of early influencers to many of the Thrash Metal bands in it’s early days. Pioneers are not lightly putting it, brothers John and Mark Gallagher have been grinding it out for so many years, they should build a statue just for how long they have been kicking ass. The outfit has been notoriously dishing out Metal for decades, and to this day they still churn out quality material.
Although they never reached the level of commercial success as the likes of Metallica, let’s not forget that Metallica’s “Kill ‘Em All” from 1983 and “Ride The Lightning” from 1984, both of which were first made available on Megaforce Records. Metallica served as RAVEN’s opening act on METALLICA’s initial tour. This is why recently it was announced that Raven would open for Metallica at a show in Florida celebrating the life, legacy, and achievements of Megaforce Records founder Jon “Jonny Z” Zazula and his wife Marsha Zazula.
Just two days prior we got the news that Raven was playing a show in Huntsville, at the brewing joint Fractal Brewing Project. To be honest with you first time at the venue, and even though I have heard of it before, did not know they had live music there. So the fact that Raven was playing there out of all places, was pretty unique.
On a rather cool night, we get things going early with opening acts Temple of Blood, a local band and they did some songs off their album “Overlord”. Interesting band bit on the extreme side, but one that I have not heard of before. Very impressed with the cover of Metallica’s Creeping Death.. very well done. Nice way to warm up the night for sure. Check them out if you get a chance. Next up was AATXE pronounced (AH-chay), another one I have not heard of before. Nonetheless, their death metal infusion was pretty explosive, and a nice mix to the lineup. Their singer/guitar player JP was pretty intense with some technical licks being played on the stuff they delivered.
Next up was Riot Act features former Riot guitarist Rick Ventura and Don Chaffin-vocals, and boy they were great live. The last time I heard from Don was his Voices of Extreme project years ago, which he was great on.. .but pretty cool that they we’re opening for Raven, and Chaffin still sounds freaking fantastic live, very powerful range even after all these years. Guitar player Rick Ventura previously mentioned was part of Riot one the most underrated Metal bands on the planet. RIP Mark Reale… He found new avenues with Riot Act and damn now I need to go back and check out some of their past works. Very impressed with these hard-driving Hard Rock grooves, and again Chaffin is on fire during the set.
Finally, we get Raven and at first, it seems that John Gallagher has some technical issues with his microphone, but like true veterans they are, they push through it and kick things off with “Take Control”, a classic of “All For One” album. Another classic comes via “Hell Patrol” off their debut, with killer energy, and top-notch musicianship. I can’t believe how great Raven sounds live, even after all these years, is something to behold. Another one I enjoyed was “Top of the Mountain”, some killer riff-fest on that one.
More killer numbers fire via “Fire Power” and “Battle Zone”, later followed by “Chain Saw” and “Wiped Out”.
A nice way to end the night and frills and thrills nonstop grind of molten Thrash Metal as only Raven can dish out. Very cool to see these guys live and for the varied crowd there, nice setlist to enjoy a band that is the epitome of Grind. For any new generation of Metal fans, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to Raven and respect the influence they have had on many Metal artists. The fact they are out here still crushing live is a testament to the devotion to their music and their fans.