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Relentless Raven Wrecks London's Boston Music Room

When digging through what was labelled the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, fans can find a plethora of amazing music, with so many different styles of heavy metal at a time before the likes of thrash and death metal were established genres. A common theme though is bands losing members to the point where groups such as Diamond Head, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Saxon and Venom only have one member who appeared on the first album. However, one of the era's most exciting bands, Raven, still have their backbone firmly in place, as the Gallagher brothers (John and Mark) are still going and after forty four years, making sure the Raven is flying as high as ever. Now with a new drummer, Mike Heller, the trio are on a headlining tour across Europe and all who attend are guaranteed a great show.

Opening up their final British show of the tour was Manchester based hard rockers, Heavy Sentence. I've criticised some bands in the past for offering nothing new but in this case, it was good fun to hear some no frills, balls out rock and roll in the vein of Motorhead and Rose Tattoo. As opening band, they almost naturally played to the smallest crowd of the night, though those that weren't here were treated to some hard and heavy, foot tapping rock. Sometimes the simplest things in life can be the finest.

Up next was American thrash metal outfit Hatchet. Much like Heavy Sentence, Hatchet wear their influences on their sleeves, with the likes of Exodus, Vio-Lence and Forbidden clear to hear in their music, which unsurprising given that they also come from the Bay Area. Promoting their new album, "Dying To Exist," the band brought a huge energy with them, though this wasn't to prove infectious. The band received a decent reception from the crowd who appreciated their retro thrash style but British crowds can be hard to motivate, especially when the venue isn't packed or the crowd themselves are mostly middle aged. I've no doubt Hatchet will be back in the UK soon though, hopefully on a more thrash orientated bill.

Finally it was time for the Geordie brothers (and American drummer) to take to the stage. Raven performed a strong selection of material tonight, with more recent songs like "Destroy All Monsters" and the storming, "Tank Treads (The Blood Runs Red)" from their latest album, "ExtermiNation" fitting in great alongside vintage material such as "Hell Patrol," "Faster than the Speed of Light" and "Hung, Drawn and Quartered." The band also maintained a strong connection with the crowd during the show, with plenty of humour and banter throughout.

Perhaps it was this connection that made Mark Gallagher's guitar solo halfway through the set one of the most entertaining I've ever seen, blowing away the bloated wankery of so many other guitarists with a frenzied energy that the three displayed from the first note to the last. Of course, there was plenty more classics on offer, including a brilliant rendition of "Mind Over Metal," a stomping take on "Rock Until You Drop" and a performance of "Break The Chain" which was almost impossible not to sing along to, plus the American favourite "On And On" and a crushing finale of "Crash Bang Wallop." If you're a fan of old school heavy metal and hard rock, do not miss Raven when they come through. After over forty years, they're still having a great time and making sure other people are too, coupled with a pride and passion which many younger bands don't have. Put them on your bucket list right now.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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