Raven was born on 16 January 1961 in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, and was the son of folk musician Jon Raven. His early musical career included stints in Neon Hearts, who released 3 singles from 1977–79 and the album Popular Music in 1979, and the short-lived 1982 glam rock band, Kitsch, which also included Rook Randle and Tyla, before he would go on to larger success with his band, Dogs D'Amour. In the summer of 1980 he played bass with the also short-lived Tony McPhee's Turbo. The band played a few gigs and recorded a three-track session for Capitol Radio. Turbo included Clive Brooks, the drummer with Tony McPhee's band the Groundhogs (1972–1975).
Raven's big break came when he replaced original Killing Joke bassist Youth in mid-1982, just in time for the North American tour documented on the Ha! live EP. He was with the group through its most commercially successful period, appearing on the Fire Dances, Night Time and Brighter than a Thousand Suns albums, before leaving during the recording of 1988's Outside the Gate, rejoining in time for 1990's Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions.
After touring in support of this album, Killing Joke split up, with all members except lead vocalist Jaz Coleman going on to form Murder, Inc. in 1991, adding vocalist Chris Connelly. During this time, Raven also participated in Pigface, a project conceived by drummer Martin Atkins, which operated with a fluid change of differing musicians in their lineup.
Killing Joke reformed in 1992, but it was with original bassist Youth back in the fold. Raven next joined Prong, appearing on their Cleansing and Rude Awakening albums. After leaving Prong in 1996, he began a career as a producer and remixer and also played with the group Zilch, along with hide, Joey Castillo and Ray McVeigh.
In 2002 Paul Raven had been brought on for a Godflesh two-month tour of the United States, but the band disbanded just before departing. In 2003, Raven played bass on Exit Through Fear with Society 1 and performed on the subsequent tour for the album. He later left Society 1, rejoining Killing Joke for their 2003 release, Killing Joke (their second album by that name), and its follow up, Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. In 2005, Raven began working with Al Jourgensen of Ministry for their album Rio Grande Blood. In 2006, Raven completed a European and American tour with Ministry. In 2007, Raven wrote and recorded on Ministry's next studio album The Last Sucker and also began work together with Mark Gemini Thwaite (of The Mission and Peter Murphy's band) on a new project called Mob Research. Warrior Soul frontman Kory Clarke and ex-Queens of the Stone Age (and later Peter Murphy) drummer Nick Lucero completed the line-up.
Raven died of a heart attack in his sleep on 20 October 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was recording with Treponem Pal vocalist Marco Neves.