John Gallagher, lead vocalist and bassist from the legendary metal band Raven spoke with me recently about the band’s new release, Walk Through Fire. I grew up listening to these guys and it was with great pleasure and anticipation that I received their new disc. Walk Through Fire is an album that showcases the band in top form. This is metal the way metal was meant to be played; hard, heavy and visceral.

First off, I just want to say welcome back. As a fan of Raven since the beginning, it is really great to have you back in the saddle.
John: Hi! And thanks… it’s great be back… although we never really went away!

The first thing that struck me about Walk Through Fire is how well it flows. It is a very natural sounding album and the songs just seem to complement each other extremely well. I take it you are satisfied with the outcome?
John: Very satisfied. We took our time where it counts on this one – and the running order is so important to make it flow in the way it does!

What was the writing process like for Walk Through Fire? Did you guys all write together? How long did it take?
John: I did a lot of the songs in my little home studio. We did quite a few together. Joe had ideas… Mark had ideas… basically when Mark had his accident we concentrated on writing and when he was literally back on his feet we jammed on some stuff also. So out of that pile of songs we whittled it down to the ones that seemed to work the best as an album and went with that!

What can fans expect when they pick up a copy of Walk Through Fire?
John: They’ll get the best album we’ve done… if not ever, then the best in many a year. It’s heavy, melodic, aggressive… fast in parts, mid tempo in the face in others.

When you compare the early days of metal to the scene today what do you feel has changed for the better? What do you feel has become worse?
John: The scene is getting better today due to a whole new audience wanting to hear the “real” stuff but there’s still too many of the down tuned, coo6kie monster vocals and 500 mile an hour kick drums that sound like freaking Tupperware. Some of these guys would not know a TUNE if you bashed them on the head.

In a hundred years from now what will the music history books say about your band?
John: That we created our own spin on the music we love… that we hopefully entertained and influenced a lot of people to start doing their own thing musically and one more thing… every show is the most important one we’ll ever do!

Are there any contemporary or classic bands that you guys admire?
John: All the bands I grew up with… and any one the ones from our era that are still kicking it out! I mean, you have to have respect for the Priest… yeah!

Did you ever imagine you would be releasing albums more than 25 years later?
John: Jeez you actually mean 36 YEARS later! We started this freakin’ band in 1974… so when people call us an eighties band I have to laugh. It has been a long trip. But the funny thing is, when we get up there, plug in and look at each other – we are those fourteen-year-old miscreants, annoying the next-door neighbors with our racket!

How much roadwork do you expect to be doing this 2010?
John: We are doing a load of the Euro festivals – Rocktower, Hellfest, Sweden Rock, Graspop, HOA, Wacken, Alcatraz… then a bunch of US dates. So it’s looking gooooood!

Any closing words?
John: Thanks to all for the support – check out the new album as I think you will like it! And see ya on the road!