Raven: Extermination

Newcastle’s proto-thrash pioneers still in the mood for mania

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Cutting their teeth in the boozers of 70s Tyneside, Geordie hellraisers Raven have survived the vagaries of fashion, major label shenanigans and near-death experiences (frontman John Gallagher was once crushed by a wall) for over 40 years.

The joyous sound forged in their first releases – crucial cornerstones for 80s thrash, as early support bands Metallica and Anthrax will attest – was so defined by the hyperactive energy, hunger and zeal of youth it’s natural to wonder if Raven might struggle now they’re pushing 60.

Walk Through Fire in 2009 had its moments, but ExtermiNation ups the ante with a rampant parade of blazing attack riffs, goofball choruses and a big, bright, beefy Kickstarter-funded production.

John’s voice still rings with demented conviction, while his harmonies and arrangements are stronger than ever, and Joe Hasselvander’s rhythmic battery is emphatically nailed-in. A few of the 15 tracks are expendable, but Raven’s lunatic joy predominates./o:p