When I consider this music, this band, it always brings me back to a specific moment: 16 years old, steering down blizzard conditions on foot, and marching forward. The wind made tangles of my too long, too unkempt hair, the crunching sounds of boot to ice muffled by parka and hat and headphones. Being removed from the aural added a nice effect to the movie of a life I felt I was directing / living. (I was 16, remember. Self importance and staging was my bread and peanut butter).
The image brings forth ideas of Shackleton or Hillary, but personally it felt like I was living in a Rush CD cover. White on white whipping winds with visibility so low it turned inward. I felt like a viking, left abandoned by his brothers for being toooooo bad ass. Or maybe a rebel taking my one man army to the kingdom. Blood beat in my ears, sweat flowed beneath multiple layers. The perfect ending was a bloodbath where I killed the King and claimed the Queen. And the people chanted my name.
Alas, the reality of it was a kid with a cassette Walkman (but no car) heading towards his shift at Finest Supermarket for Bulk Food duties.
This is the power of music, yes, but specifically the power of heavy music, heavy metal to out a name to it. This was a Mind Over Matter matter. I’m convinced this walk would not have been possible if not for what particularly I had in the Walkman. The music made me march, made me put myself into these terrible conditions cause I knew I could take it. I knew I was more than the sum of those parts. And any other music would have faltered and had me running back home.
‘Fifteen thousand feet, danger all around us
Mother nature fights, will she ever rest
What is there to prove, climbing up a mountain
Why do we do it, Why do we suffer?
Just because it’s there…’
Raven’s ‘Wiped Out’ (and their near perfect debut ‘Rock Till You Drop’) was a product of the NWOBHM era scene, in the year of our Lord 1982. For those who appreciate Metal, it was truly the last Golden Age (till the next).Saxon’s ‘The Eagle Has Landed’, Accept’s ‘Restless and Wild’, Motorhead’s ‘IronFist’, Scorpions ‘Blackout”, Venom ‘Black Metal’, Loudness ‘Devil Soldier’. Iron Maiden. ‘The Number Of The Beast.’
Look at Heavy Metal from that year. I could go on for hours.
Meanwhile…in Newcastle…a dirty and classic low budget label (that’s ‘Indie’ to you kids) named NEAT was recording something that would never be bested in terms of the amorphous but specif category of ‘Balls.’
Find a picture of Raven (the brothers Gallagher and Whacko) anD that paints the picture. These were not your usual British Heavy Metal stars. No denim, no leather. They looked like Soccer Hooligans. They looked absolutely insane. Not even including the football helmet Whacko wore to keep from continually hitting himself in the head.
This was a power trio that didn’t come with that vaguely souring Cream influence of endless soloing and the bottom falling out with every bass solo. They were jet fueled, nuclear. tight. Absolute Madmen, perfect for tying any PYT to a train track.
‘Wiped Out’ is a perfect Metal record. I should note ‘IMO’ or some similar disclaimer.
But No. This is definitive fact. Doubt me? Find it.
This record is a collection of some of my favorite things about NWOBHM:
Best opening cut of the era? Yes. It starts like a strange sci fi engine with special effects audio (surely discovered drunkenly) and the creep and still absolutely baffling ‘Listen here, Mission Control…Einstein Was Wrong….’ and then rips the time space continuum with ‘Faster Than The Speed Of Light’.
Now…lets dial back…..what sorta hogwash was that opening line about? It has puzzled me more than actual astrophysics (which I have no hope of understanding, so why try?)
Best Song To Play Out Your Droogy Fantasies? ‘Bring The Hammer Down’ The beat is a natural rhythm for dancing around the burning homes of the rich and privileged.
Best Riff In Metal: I gotta go with ‘Star War’. That’s a hard one….Ive listened to a lot of Maiden…..but I’m sticking with it.
Most accurate psychopath vocals: John Gallagher, the whole record. He sings like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family looks.
Just Do It: