I've been collecting hard rock and heavy metal CDs since the late '80s.
Raven – Party Killers
Original Release: Independent, 2015
Reissue: Iron Shield Records, 2021
Run Time: 36:45, 11 Tracks
For a diehard music collector, the most satisfying feeling in the world is when you finally land that last elusive, hard-to-find piece that completes your collection of a particular artist. That was the case for me with Raven's Party Killers CD.
The stalwart NWOBHM trio released this cool collection of hard rockin' cover tunes in 2015 as a bonus incentive for those who donated to the Kickstarter fund raising campaign for the Extermination album. I wasn't able to take part in the Kickstarter effort, so I missed the boat on Party Killers... and having that hole in my otherwise-complete Raven discography had been bugging the hell out of my collector's O.C.D. ever since.
Since I had given up hope of ever finding a copy of Party Killers out in the wild, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was about to receive a limited-edition CD reissue via Germany's Iron Shield Records. Naturally, I ordered a copy from the band as soon as the CDs became available, and I did a happy dance when it arrived in my mail box this past week. This must be what big-game hunters feel like when they finally nail that big water buffalo after a week in the wilderness (hah)!
Of course, the fact that Party Killers also happens to be an awesomely obnoxious, balls-to-the-wall, loud 'n proud listen makes the victory even sweeter!
Raven has always had fun with cover songs; their back catalog has featured Raven-ized takes on tunes by Sweet ("Hellraiser/Action"), the Spencer Davis Group ("Gimme Some Lovin'"), Thin Lizzy ("The Rocker"), and Montrose ("Space Station #5") over the years, and when you see them live, the mid section of "Break the Chain" is always set aside for a jam/medley where you might hear bits of Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Blue Cheer, or The Who (to name just a few).
On Party Killers, the trio (brothers John and Mark Gallagher on bass/vox and guitars and drummer Joe Hasselvander) continue that tradition, ripping through a set of eleven classic tracks by the '70s hard rock, glam rock, and power pop bands that made them want to pick up instruments and make noise in the first place ... and they are clearly having a blast the entire time!
On a slightly bittersweet note, it's worth mentioning that Party Killers features some of the last Raven recordings to feature Hasselvander, who was forced to step down from the drums in 2017 due to health issues.
I must confess that I was only familiar with a handful of the songs featured on Party Killers: Deep Purple's "Fireball," which opens the album in fine style, Cheap Trick's snotty "He's a Whore" (see above), Queen's "Ogre Battle" (which sounds absolutely massive here!) and Slade's catchy-as-hell "Tak Me Bak Ome." The rest of Party Killers offered an intriguing assortment of bands and songs that I have mostly heard of, but may not have actually heard.
Naturally, the band puts their own stamp on each and every track, with the Gallagher brothers' frenzied guitar and bass abuse (and John's trademark high-pitched squealing vox) in fine form throughout. The sizzling take on Thin Lizzy's "Bad Reputation" is a treat, as is the pummeling version of Budgie's "In For The Kill." Raven turns Status Quo's "Is There a Better Way" and the Edgar Winter Group's "Queen of My Dreams" into a pair of chugging metal treats, but my favorite track on the CD might just be their killer version of Nazareth's "Too Bad So Sad," whose vocal harmonies have been stuck in my head for days.
By the time the disc wraps up with Sweet's "Cockroach" and David Bowie's "Hang On to Yourself," I was rockin' out with my metal horns in the air and making a mental note to check out the original versions of some of these songs on YouTube, because clearly I've been missing out on some cool, classic stuff!
Summing It Up
Obviously I've been having a blast with this album and I definitely would advise any Raven Lunatic who missed out on Party Killers the first time around to get hold of a copy quick, before they're all gone. This CD is definitely going to be spending a lot of time in my player in the near future. It's a killer party, indeed!
© 2021 Keith Abt