Walk Through Fire

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Raven have certainly had their creative ups and downs over the years. After showing great promise in the beginning, things took a turn for the worse when they signed with Atlantic in the mid-'80s and followed the label's advice to go in a much slicker, glossier direction. What worked well for pop-metal bands and hair bands didn't work nearly as well for Raven on commercial discs like 1985's Stay Hard and 1986's The Pack Is Back. But eventually, Raven got back on track and returned to the balls-to-the-wall approach that put them on the map. Walk Through Fire, in fact, finds Raven's 2010 lineup (John Gallagher on lead vocals and bass, Mark Gallagher on guitar, and 1988 arrival Joe Hasselvander on drums) sounding undeniably focused and inspired -- and there is no shortage of either passion or aggression on forceful tracks such as "Breaking You Down," "Against the Grain," "Bulldozer," and "Trainwreck," all of which recall Raven's classic pre-Atlantic output of the early '80s. This isn't Raven trying to be more commercial in order to please the marketing department at a major label; this is Raven doing what they do best and recalling the spirit of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Because Raven disappointed listeners a lot in the past, one can't help but greet the arrival of a new Raven album with some skepticism. But Walk Through Fire isn't the least bit disappointing, and there are no weak tracks to be found this time. Fans of early Raven albums like 1981's Rock Until You Drop, 1982's Wiped Out, and 1983's All for One can't go wrong with Walk Through Fire.

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