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(Live Review) RAVEN + SUPPORT - Chicago, IL (4/14/24)


The Beard & Little Johnny

Good morning friends, fans, and followers, it is your dynamic reviewing duo The Beard and Little Johnny, and we are here with show #21 and bands #70-73 of our 2024 season. Tonight, we are on the south side at one of our regular metal stops (Reggie’s Rock House) for British NWOBHM act Raven.

Raven are supported by Bay area power/thrash act Vicious Rumours, Canadian melodic metalers Lutharo and east coast hard rock group Wicked. This one excited both The Beard and Little Johnny as it had bands from the east coast, west coast, Canada, and England all represented in one show. Musically, with NWOBHM, power, thrash, melodic and hard rock, a wide array of styles was also represented tonight. There is something for everyone at this show.



First up were Rochester four piece Wicked. My first thought was that these guys were an assault of peroxide. Four member bleached blonde hard rock/metal act. Wicked combined hair metal with some basic hard rock. Singer Chad Michael’s voice was fair at best. The band were promoting Sunbird their new album. Each was outfitted in either a vest or jacket with bare chests underneath. I am not certain of the drummer, but the other three each also sported a bicep tattoo as well. It was like someone gave them a book entitled “How to look and act like a glam band from 1981.”

This also showed the kind of audience Wicked seemed to be looking for, (which was NOT the Beard or Little Johnny who choked on his IPA then said, “UHHH…Definitely NOT wicked Beard.”)  I agree little dude. They did try to be energetic, but the moves seemed so stagey. Lean into each other guitar solo. Check. Singer turns and shakes his ass at the crowd. Check. Guitar players spin around in circles while flipping their blonde hair. Check. My thought was Wicked would have been lost in the 1980’s shuffle of “don’t call us, we’ll call you” type bands. They ultimately seemed to be pretty boys with no actual edge. This made them an odd selection on a Raven tour. I am going to have to go a disappointing 65/100.



Second on the stage were Canadians Lutharo whose brand of trad metal mixed with symphonic, death and thrash was evident when hearing their latest material from 2024’s Chasing Euphoria.

Although Lutharo has been around ten years, the band is largely still unknown to the masses, (despite releasing two EP’s and two full length albums). Led by front woman Krista Shipperbottom, this band combined symphonic power metal chords and death lyrics with actual guitar melodies and harmonies. They opened with a spooky montage leading into the death metal vocals from Shipperbottom and some excellent melodic guitar work from Victor Bueur. Johnny looked at Corey Hofing and yelled out, “That drummer looks like you Beard.” He was not wrong, although one might question the complementariness of such a comparison.

Krista Shipperbottom had quite a vocal range. She regularly got up there into the high notes and then came back to death growl a second later. I don’t care who does it, that’s impressive voice control. Slotting also helped as this was a “real” metal band (after whatever Wicked was.)


Lutharo surfed a niche between musical genres to create their own singular style. "Wings of Agony" was a nice example of their ability to flex musical range. It had a symphonic start including some long high notes, and then dropped into a driving beat that was not quite thrash and not quite death either. Little Johnny said “This chick can sing Beard. And their music is definitely metal. Plus, the dudes all look like you except younger.” Thanks, (I think) Johnny. The Beard does dig this act, and there might be a stop at merch for Lutharo stuff. A good mix of styles, and worth 85/100.



Third up was a bay area band that got its start in the early 80’s emerging west coast thrash scene Vicious Rumours.

Citing thirteen albums in their almost forty-year history, Vicious Rumors never quite found the “A” level of sustained success that other west coast stalwarts like Testament, Exodus or Death Angel had, and their power metal meets thrash style attack probably peaked in the late eighties with Digital Dictator (1988). That album got them signed by Atlantic and noticed by MTV leading to some sustained popularity in the early 90’s.


Moderate success on the festival circuit supporting acts like Metal Church and Paul Di’anno kept them going until founding singer Carl Albert was killed in a car accident in 1995. Since then, frequent lineup changes and stylistic switches have left the band with two original members and a new album released about every five years or so.


Right from go, Vicious Rumors had a good feel. Geoff Thorpe’s guitar was full, and thick and they had the best “sound” of the night. The vocals were also particularly good. Brien Allen both looks metal and has that 80’s thrash tone. His “growl/sing” (but with clarity) works well for the Vicious Rumour songs which are hook filled just enough that you enjoy both that part of the song and the metal aspects of it at the same time.


These guys were thoroughly enjoyable, yet, when looking back on their four decade long career, historically they never got a big following which limited their success. Like Anvil, Vicious Rumours is the girl you fuck, not the one you marry. I had a fun time listening to the set but did not feel the need to go buy their catalog of songs. (Although truth be told I did get a shirt.) Little Johnny initially said, “I can’t pit with these dudes. It’s like I want to, but they just don’t get me all the way there.”


‘March or Die’ though changed that issue as the lad started a circle march on that one and got a handful of followers. Little dude can always get them going. Great finishing solo by Thorpe. As the set went on, and Brian Allen continued to reach for (and hit) the high notes, I had to admit I really started to like these guys. They did everything a band should do; played well, sang well, had good crowd energy and rapport, and ultimately gave us a set that reminded me why I go see live bands. The Beard is cracking a cold one for Vicious Rumors with a high 93/100.



Headliners Raven were formed fifty years ago in 1974 by the Gallagher brothers (John & Mark). Initially, they would go through drummers like Britain’s Spinal Tap (running through four of them in just the first five years.) The early 1980’s saw Raven touring as support for such mega names as Ozzy, Motorhead, and Iron Maiden and in 1983, (in a story that would infamously define their career arc), they headlined America with support from a brand-new thrash act called Metallica.


The mid 80’s saw Raven's longest string of sustained success under Atlantic records until drummer, (and crowd favorite), Rob “Whacko” Hunter left the band in 1987. Although replacement Joe Hasselvander would remain in place for thirty years behind the drum kit, Raven was never quite as big again.


The 1990’s saw Raven largely touring Europe and Japan, (where they remained popular), and they released another three albums. An accident to founding guitarist Mark Gallagher in 2001 took Raven out of commission until 2005 when the band worked their way back into the festival circuit, playing such mega-fests as Blood Stock and Open Air. Despite maintaining a cult following on festivals, rock cruises, and supporting acts, not much new happened for Raven until 2014 when Metallica (who had obviously enjoyed a somewhat more successful career than Raven over the past three decades) invited the boys to open for them in San Paulo Brazil in front of 70,000 fans. This exposure helped Raven to release another album (their 13th ExtermiNation) in 2015. Two more albums have followed and now the Gallagher brothers along with drummer Mike Heller (2017) forge onward behind their 15th release (2023’s All Hell’s Breaking Loose) This will be The Beards’ first opportunity to see this now legendary band live.

Phantom of the Opera style musical entrance (which was cool.) Then right into the storm. Johnny was off and running in a circle. Raven’s brand of metal was aggressive, but not overly thrashy. In fact, following Vicious Rumors, I felt they struggled on the first few numbers. The Gallagher brothers wailed away while Heller kept pace on the drums, but although the crowd response was fairly good, they seemed almost sloppy in their style.


Raven plays and performs like a car with no brakes racing down a hill in danger of crashing the whole time. They are just barely organized chaos. Johnny liked running around on most of their numbers, but I also noticed a definitive crowd thinning after Vicious Rumors. Granted it was Sunday night, but that is never a great sign for a headline band.


Your intrepid reviewer though stayed true to the end and although they never played my favorite Raven track "Wiped Out", I did get to hear "Faster than the Speed of Light", "Inquisitor", and "Chainsaw". Raven really aren’t that good at singing or playing. They win audiences with their manic energy, and they did have that, but I still have a tough time ranking them over the previous two bands since Vicious Rumors killed it, and Lutharo was innovative.


Raven did maintain good crowd support from the faithful that were going to remain and rock right until the last note. Mark Gallagher did an old-fashioned metal guitar solo & John did a bass solo. Both were fine but nothing memorable. In the end, I cannot give Raven more than 83/100 and that is on energy alone. I do believe the brothers really love performing live even after four decades.


So that concluded show #21 and bands #70-73. In just a few days we will be at it again so until next time, keep reading The Mighty Decibel for reviews and other great metal content. Follow the videos of all our shows on TikTok at thebeard0728 and keep up with the Beards non-metal events by friending or following Mark McQueen on Facebook. Thanks for reading.

This is the Beard & Little Johnny saying stay heavy and ...

Horns Up!!!


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