Released: 2015, SPV/Steamhammer
Last year in October as part of a project to catch up on some older albums we missed reviewing, I wrote a review of Raven’s WALK THROUGH FIRE. At the end of the review I hinted that I felt it might be their last album because at that point it had been over five years between albums (March 2009 to October 2014) and technically their 40th anniversary, so they could go out on a high note. A few months later I was pleased to learn that they had proved me wrong and that were indeed going to release a new studio album in 2015. Raven did a crowd-funding campaign and I contributed so I could get the bonus disc of cover tunes PARTY KILLERS, which I reviewed on this site a couple of months ago. Then I realized no one had reviewed EXTERMINATION yet, so here it is!
EXTERMINATION has an eye-catching cover with the classic riveted Raven logo in place. Released in conjunction with SPV the 15 track disc is unfortunately a digipak but it comes with a nice, super glossy 12-page booklet with lyrics and lots of photos. It is a generous 63 minute long album and if you were like me and did the crowd-funding campaign, you get an extra six bonus tracks taking the album to 21 cuts for an 90 minute album, longer than STAY HARD, THE PACK IS MAD and the MAD EP all combined! I won’t review the six digital-only bonus tracks but there are four demos, one live song and one new song.
I’m not the only one saying it, EXTERMINATION is the fastest heaviest Raven album in over two decades, at least since ARCHITECT OF FEAR (1991) and perhaps the heaviest album they have ever done. The albums rips into the six- minute cut ‘Destroy All Monsters’ (a nice nod to the name of their second live album from 1995) and it is relentless. A strong statement of intent to exterminate any doubt that they can no longer compete! The song titles are littered with words like ‘Burn’, ‘Battle’, ‘Fight’, ‘Scream’, ‘Thunder’, ‘Blood’ and ‘Monsters’ giving the whole album a mean edge we haven’t seen in a long, long time. I guess they had some pent up frustration after a six-year gap between albums! Even the album art is more aggressive than the last several admittedly dull album covers and it is easily the most striking since the 1991 EP HEAD'S UP! featuring the decapitated heads and pile of skulls! Joe pounds the drums, John screams, Mark shreds and the trio putting the word ‘power’ in the phrase ‘power-trio’! Only the brief acoustic instrumental 'Golden Dawn' could be considered not heavy. The album goes from high to high, fast and catchy NWOBHM inspired cuts, with crystal clear modern production by the band themselves. The guitar tone is just awesome! The band now has 13 albums, and it is getting damn hard to pick favourites but this one is way up the scale, Top Five for sure.
I’ll gamble again and say that if this is their last album (I hope not!) they will have gone out exterminating the nations of the world with a killer, deadly Metal album.