The first two songs, much of the artwork (the band is shown standing on the prow of a vikinglongship) and the album title refer to Norse mythology. The album deals with a variety of issues including Japanese ritual suicide ("Ice"), heroin use ("(Don't Bring) Harry"), the Iranian Revolution ("Shah Shah a Go Go") and Genetic engineering ("Genetix").
The Raven was released on 21 September 1979. It reached No. 4 in the UK albums chart, remaining in the chart for eight weeks.
The album was originally released with a limited edition 3D cover. Another limited edition was inadvertently created when the band was forced to remove an image of Joh Bjelke-Petersen from the inner sleeve artwork. Petersen was the subject of the album's sixth track, "Nuclear Device (The Wizard of Aus)".
"Duchess" was the first and most successful single from the album, released on 10 August 1979 and reaching No. 14 on the UK singles chart. "Nuclear Device (The Wizard of Aus)" was the second single released, reaching No. 36 in the same chart. An EP, Don't Bring Harry, was released in November, consisting of the title track, "Wired" (credited to Hugh Cornwell and Robert Williams), "Crabs (Live)" (credited to J.J. Burnel) and "In the Shadows (Live)". It reached No. 41.