Raven - Nothing Exceeds Like Excess

edited November 2021 in Reviews 1980s

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ARTIST: Raven
ALBUM: Nothing Exceeds Like Excess
LABEL: Combat
SERIAL: 88561-8262-1
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: 2011, Back On Black (UK), BOBV241 LP (LP reissue)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: John Gallagher - vocals, bass * Mark Gallagher - guitars * Joe Hasselveander - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Behemoth * 02 Die For Allah * 03 Gimme A Break * 04 Into the Jaws Of Death * 05 In the Name Of Our Lord * 06 Stick It * 07 Lay Down The Law * 08 You Gotta Screw Loose * 09 Thunderlord * 10 The King * 11 Hard As Nails * 12 Kick Your Ass

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

1988 marked a turning point in Raven's career as they were dropped from their major label deal with Atlantic, quickly followed by the departure of drummer Rob Hunter.

He had left to pursue production duties rather than perform. Raven drafted in Pentagram drummer Hasselvander as a replacement and signed to the Combat label, more known for it's roster of dodgy thrash bands.

Given the harsh nature of 'Nothing Exceeds..', Raven fit right in with such extreme acts, shedding themselves of the lightweight metal direction of 'It's Hard' and 'The Pack Is Back', instead taking the heavier route of 1986's 'M.A.D.' ep and 1987's 'Life's A Bitch' a notch further.

It reaffirmed many people's belief in the band, many thinking they were incapable of reclaiming the wildly original sound of their first three NWOBHM albums of 1980 -83.

The Songs

This was one of my favourite albums for years and it still retains a special charm. Unabashed metal, full of speed and crazed riffing it reminds one that here was a band once on the same level as Maiden, if not better circa 1980, such was their ground-breaking use of thrash like dynamics.

'Die For Allah' banishes memories of Raven's 'American' period, the warp speed style more in common with relics like ' Bring The Hammer Down' . Always melodic, 'Gimme A Break' is as catchy as it is heavy, much like 'Into The Jaws Of Death', which has a real 1988 thrash tinge to its sound for those familiar with the era.

If the band was eager to recapture their reputation for musical insanity then 'Stick It' and the speed metal of 'Lay Down The Law' ram the message home in a rampant manner, authentic wildmen in action! 'The King' is a fierce ode to Elvis Presley, a melodic anthem, which in my opinion is a warranted classic.

The quartet of 'You Got A Screw Loose', 'Thunderlord', 'Hard As Nails' and 'Kick Your Ass' have to be heard to be comprehended, so over the top in terms of lyrical content, pace and ferocity that it's as laughable as it is tough. Manowar would have been easily brushed aside by these maniacs in 1988.

In Summary

Typically this is one of Raven's most forgotten albums, but one of the few that stands alongside 'Rock Until You Drop' or 'Wiped Out'. It's one of those typical 'back to basics' deals, but one that works so well that it shows the band more aggressive than their earliest recordings, which says something especially if you've heard them.

Raven never came to close to equalling the intensity of 'Nothing Exceeds..' in the 90's, incorporating too many slower tracks, their last album to date 1999's 'One For All' quite a letdown. Raven are still in existence after a period of uncertainty following Mark Gallagher's leg injury in an accident several years back, although a new album still seems a long way off.

Those who like their metal raw and primitive will never find a better representation than most of Raven's catalogue and 'Nothing Exceeds..' is as good as any album to begin with.


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    Last Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing Raven at an obscure bar in Phoenix. There was probably about 20 paying punters in total, so trying to figure out how the band makes any discernible profit is futile. To the lads credit they tore the joint up with their tried and tested setlist, still showing the same energy they had back in the 80's. There was a guest appearance from humiliated ex-Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson, who jammed with the band on a cover of 'Hell Bent for Leather.' It would have been great to hear a track or two from this legendary album, but you can't have it all.

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