Cloven Hoof

Cloven Hoof

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Question the motives behind their excessively over-the-top stage theatrics, or silly pseudonyms (denoting the four elements of water, fire, air, and earth) if you will, but no one can refute the fact that the members of Cloven Hoof submitted one of the most consistent debuts of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal's golden years. Indeed, this eponymous album from 1984 boasted an impressive array of classic heavy metal songwriting, including the group's namesake "Cloven Hoof," the Old Testament-themed "Return of the Passover," and the stunning "The Gates of Gehenna." With their cinematic, fantasy metal lyrics, epic lengths, and complex arrangements, these efforts aspired to (and only barely fell short of) the grandeur achieved by earlier N.W.O.B.H.M. powers like Diamond Head, Witchfynde, and, most notably, Iron Maiden. The fact that Cloven Hoof had been performing many of these songs for at least four years goes a long way towards explaining their proficiency; but the band was hardly sitting on their laurels here, coming up with some exceptionally accessible new singles in "Crack the Whip" and "Laying Down the Law." Sadly, despite their laudable efforts, Cloven Hoof ultimately failed to become the next Iron Maiden. Instead, they almost became the next Manowar, thanks to the disappointing albums and unnecessary macho-man posturing that characterized the twilight of their career. But with this self-titled release, at least, the group scored a small, but lasting document from the second generation of New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands. [Much to the delight of N.W.O.B.H.M. collectors, Castle/Sanctuary reissued Cloven Hoof in 2002 with extensive liner notes, and three bonus cuts culled from the band's June 1983 Friday Rock Show session.]

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