The Definitive Part One

Cloven Hoof

The CLOVEN HOOF 'brand' always moved me. From the The Opening Ritual EP's early days […]
By Grigoris Chronis
April 4, 2008
Cloven Hoof - The Definitive Part One album cover

The CLOVEN HOOF 'brand' always moved me. From the The Opening Ritual EP's early days to the dominance of the (band's most impressing?) A Sultan's Ransom LP (1989) to the Eye Of The Sun 'comeback' CD (2006), everything related to this legendary British act does tug my heartstrings in a bizarre way. The anticipation - for many CH fans - for the upcoming Throne Of Damnation album, featuring again the 'trademark' voice of Russ North, has already grown high. Thus, The Definitive Part One release has already been greeted with enthusiasm, as a 'teaser' for the forthcoming brand new studio release from CLOVEN HOOF.
In a fair Metal world - and that's no 'big news' - CLOVEN HOOF would be rated in high standards in regards to what British bands have donated to our beloved music all these years. Still, for those who have tasted the CH fire, this rating surely applies. I always believed the 'just a NWOBHM band' title was everything but fitting to the status of this Wolverhampton, England outfit. And this, because this band - assembled by majestic and multi-talented bassist Lee Payne in 1979 - showed in a set of only four studio releases (back in the 80s) the dynamics of an ultra-skilled horde grabbing the British Hard 'n' Heavy standards and 'spewing' them to an unspoken heavy/power/epic/mystique level, bringing unsaid owe to the potential listener waiting to hear another riff-only in-your-face NWOBHM gang. The facets of JUDAS PRIEST, LED ZEPPELIN, DEEP PURPLE/RAINBOW, U.F.O., URIAH HEEP, YES, BUDGIE transposed to meet the double-dealing British side of bands like IRON MAIDEN, DIO, ANGELWITCH and WITCHFYNDE or the 'mystic-yet-melodic' part of US Metal a la (early) QUEENSRYCHE, WARLORD, CRIMSON GLORY, LIEGE LORD, TITAN FORCE or (even) RIOT are not something anyone can get through in success.
OK, the CBS deal fell through (back then) but heroes never die. CLOVEN HOOF's return in 2006 was more than warm, with Eye Of The Storm being a more in-your-face album than usual, but always 'Metal' and flirting smartly with a vivid production. Still, the news that Russ North (singer in the Dominator and A Sultan's Ransom monumental releases) was back in action after E.O.T.S. hit the stores was grand news! And what someone would expect from CLOVEN HOOF now? A new album - waiting to be released in later in 2008; 'till then, the The Definitive Part One CD featuring re-recorded versions of CH classics is now available. The old fans will have a good reason to hold their horses while listening to this combo, plus hordes of (young, mostly) Metal devotees should grab the chance and get familiar with one of the Metal prides of England, through some 'updated' versions of incredibly 'qualitative' CLOVEN HOOF songs spanning their whole career.
To the tracklist: The Opening Ritual EP (1982) 'offers' the epos of The Gates Of Gehenna (this song re-appeared later in the band's debut fill-length), Cloven Hoof (1984) 'donates' the armory of Return Of The Passover and Laying Down The Law, 1998's Dominator is represented by the expedition of Nova Battlestar, Reach For The Sky and Road Of Eagles, A Sultan's Ransom (1989) suggests the exotic mystique of Astral Rider and Mistress Of The Forest.
All of the above songs are re-recorded with the tendency to sound more fresh and consistent. OK, the originals are non-defeated in our rusty(!) hearts but bear in mind the scope of this combo is also to get these treasures known to people never bonded to the CH name in prior. In any way, the equivalent 'new' takes are very good, sounding more to-the-bone while showing another aspect on how specific song parts could be treated again. The band's in fine mood, Russ' voice tops the most 'credited' voices in Metal music and nothing less than a bright smile will you suffer listening to the new takes; trust me. Mistress Of The Forest's arrangement, Astral Rider's harmony and Reach For The Sky's neat (at last!) sound, will haunt you instantly, no questions asked.
Of special importance is the fact that CLOVEN HOOF have included - in here - takes of a couple of songs from 2006's Eye Of The Sun. Inquisitor and Kiss Of Evil, in the hands of Russ' throat, evolve from interesting tunes to bonecrushing Metal thunders, leaving no regret to those questioning the band's songwriting-with-top-singing in the 21st century. As for Mutilator (to be included in the upcoming Throne Of Damnation CD) it would be too immature to estimate how the whole new album will sound judging by one and only track. Still, listening to it alone for a dozen of times, my side sees a bombastic opening up with bells tolling and some twisted leads backing Russ' screams, to burst out in a furious-tempo speed Metal 'evil lunacy' tune, featuring some horrifying soloing and a surprisingly powerful (new) BLITZKRIEG-meets-EXCITER(!) vibe. I'm really looking forward to the new album!
The Definitive Part One's target is solid. Give a fresh air to classic tunes (some of them never having the production they deserved) while letting young Metal fans getting familiar with the CLOVEN HOOF legacy, prior to the new album. Paul O'Neil produced the album - recording all backing tracks live in the studio - and Jon Astley (LED ZEPPELIN, THE WHO, JUDAS PRIEST, ROLLING STONES) is in charge of the mastering.
This combo will hit the world in less than a couple of months (May 1st - distribution by Universal), but the band offers signed copies from now on via its official site. Taste the fire and walk the CLOVEN HOOF path; little bands deserve such enthusiasm; 'nuff said!

 Cloven Hoof - Nova Battlestar

8 / 10


"The Definitive Part One" Track-listing:

Nova Battlestar
The Gates Of Gehenna
Astral Rider
Kiss Of Evil
Reach For The Sky
Road Of Eagles
Return Of The Passover
Laying Down The Law
Mistress Of The Forest

Cloven Hoof Lineup:

Russ North - Lead Vocals
Lee Payne - Bass
Jon Brown - Drums
Ben Read - Guitars

linkcrossmenucross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram